Jazz and Blues

News about jazz, blues, Studio Sessions, and music samplings from jazz artists in the northwest and around the world.

The New Cool: Modern Voice of Gretchen Parlato

4 hours ago
Modern jazz singer Gretchen Parlato.
Jeaneen Lund, used with permission of the artist.

After more than a dozen years in the heart of the jazz world in New York City, Gretchen Parlato has become one of the most mesmerizing voices in modern jazz. And in a time when modern jazz singers seem to have at least one foot in soul and r&b, Parlato is blazing her own trail.

Ray Barretto plays the congas at the Tito Puente Auditorium in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2002
Andres Leighton / Associated Press

This week's Jazz Caliente includes music from conguero, composer and bandleader Ray Barretto.  One of the first musicians to introduce Latin percussion to American be-bop, he was known as Manos Duras (Hard Hands), a true power-hitter of the congas. 

Robin Lloyd takes the stage at Hermann's Jazz Club during their Save KPLU fundraiser, May 2016
Brenda Goldstein-Young / KNKX

As Canada’s longest continuously operating jazz club, Hermann’s Jazz Club in Victoria BC has held an important position in the West Coast jazz scene for 37 years. 

It’s been a source of work, a laboratory for experimentation, and a friendly hang-out for local musicians.  It’s also an education center for jazz students, who can listen, learn and participate with professionals.  And it’s an intimate venue for visiting national and international jazz acts.

Since the death of the club’s founder Hermann Nieweler in 2015, the future of this community resource has been uncertain.  Now there’s an urgent effort to save Hermann’s Jazz Club.

The New Cool: Fresh Grooves Triumph in Seattle

Aug 11, 2017
Seattle band The New Triumph.
Courtesy of The New Triumph.

The New Triumph has released their 2nd album Keep On Push'n, but their official CD release party is Friday night, August 11th at the Pono Ranch in Ballard.

Musican playing a bamboo horn called Vaksen
Alfonso Lomba / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0

In the early 1800s French slave owners fled the revolution in Haiti and many settled in Cuba.  They brought approximately 27,000 Haitian slaves with them to work on the coffee and sugar cane plantations.

Haitian culture is closely linked to Cuba’s because of their shared African heritage.   Creole is the second most spoken language in Cuba, after Spanish, and it has its roots in Haiti.  The Haitian language, religions and music and dance traditions remain a large part of Cuban culture.

The New Cool: Singer Meets Drummer, Revisited

Aug 4, 2017
Zara McFarlane sings on Later with Jools Holland in 2014
Rex Features via AP Images

As the modern jazz scene continues to bloom in England, a powerful young singer is gaining greater attention. With a recent cover of a classic Abbey Lincoln collaboration with Max Roach, she should be catching the ears of vintage jazz fans as well.

Pablo Menéndez and Mezcla
courtesy of the artist

Guitarist Pablo Menéndez takes fusion to the next level.  His band Mezcla (meaning "mixture") blends jazz, blues, rock and several styles of Cuban and African music into one raucous, joyous expression of life.

DVD cover of "Saxophone Colossus"
MVD Visual

A new 4K transfer of the 1986 film “Saxophone Colossus” will be available on DVD, Blu-Ray and digital platforms starting today, August 4. 

Sonny Rollins has intrigued and delighted me since I first saw him in concert in 1978.  His power and stamina, his robust improvisational skills, and the joy he exuded on stage still fascinate me. 

Abe Beeson

Seventeen year-old Manny Aldape will be a senior at Lake Stevens High School.  He shares an hour of his favorite jazz with Abe Beeson on Thursday, August 3 from 8-9 p.m.

The New Cool: Jazz in Rock Clubs

Jul 28, 2017
Live at Nectar Lounge with Living Daylights and Skerik
Abe Beeson

In my formative years, catching live music around Seattle was a lot more beer-and-cigarettes than coffee beans-and-iPhones. It wasn’t just the heavy rock tagged as “grunge”, either – clubs in Seattle also offered some of the best jazz in town.

Mambo steps on the street
John Henderson, Flickr / Creatiive Commons (CC BY 2.0)

According to Rebeca Mauleon's indispensable "Salsa Guidebook for Piano and Ensemble,"  the Mambo is:

An up-tempo dance style, developed through the 1940s and 1950s, which blended several elements of North American instrumentation and harmony with the Cuban son (a style of popular dance music that combined Spanish and African elements).

The New Cool: Sub-mission Part 2

Jul 22, 2017
Skerik's Bandalabra live at Nectar July 21, 2017.
Abe Beeson

KNKX Music Director Nick Francis subs once again for Abe Beeson this week, back to regular hosting duties next time, hep cats!

Jerry Gonzalez in 2012
By Andrea Zapata Girau (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

“Andy and Jerry Gonzalez changed the face of Latin jazz—in fact, they defined that hybrid.” — Arturo O’Farrill

The New Cool: The New Host?

Jul 18, 2017
KNKX Music Director Nick Francis
Parker Miles Blohm

Your intrepid host of The New Cool since the show began last Fall, Abe Beeson is taking a couple much needed weeks off. He'll be back on 88.5/knkx.org Monday the 24th.

album cover "Patato Valdes Live at the Canal Room"
USA Records, 2006

Conga drummer Carlos Valdés carried his nickname with pride.  "Patato" in Cuban slang means "potato,"  in the sense of something small and low to the ground.  Valdés was small in stature, but the Little Spud was a giant in Afro Cuban jazz.  

Japanese DJ and pianist Jazztronik aka Ryota Nozaki
Used with kind permission of the artist: jazztronik.com

Many jazz fans are still suspicious of electronic music.  It seems like child's play that doesn't require the hard work and years of dues paying that typifies the life of a jazz musician. Working as Jazztronik, Tokyo's Ryota Nozaki has been challenging that stereotype of the "nu-jazz" DJ for nearly two decades.

Pianist, educator and social activist Danilo Pérez
photo courtesy of the artist / Mack Avenue Records/Danilo Pérez

The Republic of Panama has produced some stellar modern musicians like popular singer and actor Rubén Blades and jazz drummer Billy Cobham.   Add to that list the prolific pianist, educator and social activist Danilo Pérez.

Book Cover:  Queen of Bebop - The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan
photo of Sarah Vaughan by Herman Leonard Photography LLC / Ecco Press/Harper Collins

"The Divine One."  "Sassy."  "The High Priestess of Jazz."  "The Girl with the Magic Voice."

Jazz critics, fans, producers and musicians all praised Sarah Vaughan's warm, supple, nearly four-octave range voice and her flawless technique.  Her life in music (and music was her life) is explored in the new book "Queen of BeBop-The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan" by Elaine M. Hayes.

The New Cool: Live At The Locks Monday

Jun 30, 2017
Industrial Revelation live in the KNKX studios.
Justin Steyer / KNKX

The country celebrates Independence Day on Tuesday, and seeing as jazz is a music based on freedom, why not celebrate jazz with KNKX a day early at our Jazz On A Summer's Day party at the Hiram M. Chittenden (Ballard) Locks Monday afternoon.

Rebecca Corbaley, KNKX

Two informative, fun and  in-depth resources for learning about Latin music debuted  in 2009:  the interactive exhibit "American Sabor" and the PBS series "Latin Music USA."

Kenny Barron Looks Back

Jun 28, 2017
Pianist Kenny Barron performed an intimate solo set at the 2017 TD Vanvouver International Jazz Festival Sunday evening, June 25, 2017.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

At this year’s TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, KNKX jazz host Abe Beeson had an opportunity to speak with the great jazz pianist Kenny Barron. 

Donny McCaslin at the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival 2017
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It was my honor to travel to Vancouver for a second time to work with the folks at Coastal Jazz on the 2017 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival. We were given the opportunity to set up a tent near Robson Square where the festival’s free downtown jazz concerts are (find the free jazz on Granville Island for Canada Day July 1 ), and to emcee a few of the hottest shows on a toasty early Summer weekend in one of North America’s most beautiful cities.

Here are Abe Beeson’s fond memories of his trip to the land of jazz lovers and world-class poutine:

Zem Audu in the recording studio.
Courtesy Zem Audu at zemaudu.com

KNKX is excited to debut a pair of new releases from talented musicians with international backgrounds on The New Cool this week, both released on Seattle's Origin Records. Along with modern music like electronica, hip hop, rock and soul, modern jazz is finding a world of inspiration and influence in traditional folk music from around the globe.

courtesy of the artist / ponchosanchez.com

Conguero and bandleader Poncho Sanchez was born in Laredo, Texas but grew up in a melting-pot suburb of Los Angeles.  His music reflects the various influences of jazz, Latin jazz, R&B and soul, and it's a joyful mixture.

Sammy Miller and the Congregation live in the KNKX studios.
Michael Goude / Vibe Vision Seattle/KNKX

One of North America’s great jazz festivals is ramping up for its 32nd edition, and KNKX will be there for the first weekend. Stop by and say hello at our tent in the middle of the free jazz stages downtown in Robson Square near the Vancouver Art Gallery this Saturday and Sunday.

The New Cool: Barrett Martin Gets Busy

Jun 16, 2017
Charles Peterson

He may call himself a "rock musician by profession", but drummer, songwriter, bandleader, record label owner and producer Barrett Martin might more accurately be called a musician/student. His drive to learn about music has taken him all over the U.S. and around the world, and is evident in the five albums released as the Barrett Martin Group.

YACIEL PEÑA DE LA PEÑA

Emiliano Salvador is perhaps the most overlooked of Cuban jazz pianists.  His intensity and focus drew comparisons to Thelonious Monk, he had the sensitivity of Bill Evans, and his innovative approach echoed McCoy Tyner and Herbie Hancock.

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