Jazz and Blues

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

Havana Theatre
“club español” by Pablo Trincado is licensed under CC BY 2.0 bit.ly/2qnc53Q

Jazz Appreciation Month wraps up once again with International Jazz Day on April 30, and the annual All-Star Global Concert.   This year's host city for the concert is Havana, Cuba.

Courtesy of Greta Matassa

Since she was 14, Seattle jazz singer Greta Matassa has been drawn to the music of Ella Fitzgerald. She considers Ella a major influence and uses her singing as a teaching tool for her voice students.

Tuesday is Ella's 100th birthday. To celebrate, Matassa sat down with KNKX to talk about her life with Ella.

Bruno of Hollywood / courtesy of Smithsonian Jazz

On Tuesday April 25, we will celebrate Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th birthday all day on KNKX. 

Ella is, without a doubt, one of the most important and influential jazz singers of all time, and her centennial is a perfect time to review her life and contributions to jazz.

  • Seattle Women's Jazz Orchestra (SWOJO) with special guest Christine Jensen
  • May 6, 7:30 p.m.
  • Shorewood Performing Arts Center, Shoreline

Courtesy of Jacob Collier

Calling Jacob Collier a jazz musician isn’t quite right; it’s better to simply call him a musician. Born in North London to a musical family, Collier’s first stage work was as a young actor, often in musical productions, but that world wasn’t big enough to contain him.

The pioneering Cuban jazz band Irakere nurtured some of Cuba's leading musicians who went on to gain international fame.

Parker Miles Blohm

In his fourth visit to the KNKX Studio Sessions, we finally put saxman Anton Schwartz together with one of our School of Jazz all-star combos.

Lynnwood High School was the beneficiary of Anton's mentoring, and his advice to the teenage musicians sounded just as applicable to life: "You gotta be where you are, not where you want to be. By perfecting where you are, you'll get to where you want to go."

Mary Osborne, photograph by Paul Smith; Betty Carter, photograph by Bob Barrett; and Toshiko Akiyoshi, photograph by Bob Barrett / University of North Texas Press

Music educator and author Carolyn Glenn Brewer tells the story of the birth and untimely demise of the Kansas City Women's Jazz Festival.  It was a unique undertaking, especially in the late 1970s, when jazz was at a low point nationwide. Musical tastes were changing, even in a city that was proud of its jazz history.  

In Kansas City, you still had to be in top form to survive a jam session, even though you might not be able to make a living playing jazz. Could a jazz festival that focused on women instrumentalists, bandleaders and composers kindle enough interest to thrive?

Dino Perrucci

Singer, songwriter and keyboard player Marco Benevento was in town recently and I didn’t go. I’d rather see the keyboard player leave the singer/songwriter behind.

I first heard about Benevento from his second album, "Me Not Me," a mix of his original tunes and smart covers of obscure songs by artists ranging from Led Zeppelin to My Morning Jacket.

Mack Avenue Records

There's a new wave of young Cuban jazz pianists who are pushing boundaries while still honoring the traditions of Cuban music and the modern masters like Chucho Valdes and Gonzalo Rubalcaba.  

Meet Harold López-Nussa, your guide for "El Viaje," the journey.

Justin Steyer / KNKX

When my wife and I first started getting romantic, comparing our musical loves was critical to determining our compatibility. Happily, we love a lot of the same jazz musicians, so the romance began to blossom, and then she asked if I knew about Sex Mob.

After a quick blush, she said, “The band, dummy!” I hadn’t, but it didn’t take long to hear what she was so excited about.

KCTS9

Juan de Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All Stars return to Seattle on the night of Wednesday April 12 for a show at the Moore Theater.  We're delighted that they've also agreed to perform for a live studio session that afternoon, broadcast live at 12:15 p.m. on KNKX.

Juan de Marcos is marking 20 years since the amazing success of the Buena Vista Social Club recordings and the resulting world tour that made stars of "los viejos," the elder musicians who paved the way for modern Cuban music.

Abe Beeson

This month's guest student DJ, Drew Thomas, plays trumpet in the Lynnwood High School jazz band. 

Herbert Behrens / Anefo / CC BY-SA 3.0 nl

The story of trumpeter Lee Morgan's death in 1972 pops up every few years to be hashed over and nit-picked by jazz enthusiasts, critics and journalists.  I've read the articles, the essays, and even the transcripts of the taped interview of Helen Morgan, the "lady who shot Lee Morgan."  

None of the above prepared me for the emotional depths of the story told in the film "I Called Him Morgan."

Photo/Daniel Sheehan/eyeshotjazz.com / http://www.danielsheehan.com/

The Jazz Journalists Association's annual Jazz Hero Award recipients were announced this morning.  Jazz Heroes are the advocates, altruists, activists, aiders and abettors of jazz who have had significant impact in their local communities.  

The New Cool: Unstoppable Grooves of Velocity

Mar 31, 2017
facebook.com/realvelocitymusic

Tacoma quartet Velocity builds some serious musical inertia when they motor up to Seattle for a show at the Seamonster Lounge on April 1. No fooling, these four take their grooves seriously.

Their songs are mostly written by keyboard player Peter Adams, with Cliff Colon blowing a muscular tenor sax; Rob Hutchinson and Brian Smith form the rhythm pocket at the bass and drums.

courtesy of the artist

Second cousin to the Latin jazz we play on Jazz Caliente is the blend of jazz, Latin, soul and funk that grew up in the streets of New York in the 1960s.  Called Latin soul or boogaloo, it's rhythmic, fun and immensely danceable.

The New Cool: Jazz Philosophers Of Moon Hooch

Mar 24, 2017
Erica Hernandez

The band Moon Hooch only exists thanks to their stubbornness. When sax players Mike Wilbur and Wenzl McGowan were studying at The New School in New York, they didn’t get along. Wenzl says he even dropped a class so he didn’t have to play with Mike. But they had a friend in common, drummer James Muschler, and eventually their proximity (the two young sax men lived across the hall at school) drove them to play together in subway stations to make a few bucks.

Bex Wade

Peruvian music is a blend of Andean, West African and Spanish influences.  Add some American jazz to the mix, and you've got something unique.  You can hear it on Saturday Jazz Caliente, courtesy of innovative musicians like guitarist Richie Zellon and trumpeter Gabriel Alegria.

The New Cool: A Pair of Cool NW LP Previews

Mar 17, 2017

Do you still call them records? Or maybe you refer to a new CD? You're not still talking about the latest tape release, are you? Whatever you call them, new album releases are to musicians what children are to parents - although old albums are a lot easier to forget.

On this week's edition of The New Cool, you'll hear previews of two new releases due in May from two talented young Northwest groups. Both of whom KNKX is working with on upcoming live events.

Pixabay / CC0 public domain

This week on Jazz Caliente, we'll hear the sweet sounds of violins.  The violin came to Latin jazz through a style of music called "charanga," as did the flute.  And just like the flute, the violin's history in Cuba has deep roots.

The New Cool: Blackstar Jazz Star Donny McCaslin

Mar 10, 2017
Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images North America

It’s not the kind of fame you want, but sax player Donny McCaslin is reaping the rewards of his band’s work backing up David Bowie on his final album, "Blackstar," released just two days before Bowie’s death.

Accepting one of the five Grammys the album received at this year’s ceremony, McCaslin said, “I’m a better artist and better person for having known him.”

The Bowie influence on McCaslin has been profound, his new release with his quartet "Beyond Now" has been described as a continuation of the music they made on "Blackstar."

Bebeto Matthews / AP Photo

Latin jazz flutist Dave Valentin died March 8; he was 64.  I remember very well the first time I heard him play on his album "The Hawk."

Dave Valentin became one of the pre-eminent flutists in Latin jazz. He was known for his creative combination of fusion, pop and R&B.

He won a Grammy in 2003 for best Latin jazz album for "The Gathering," by the Caribbean Jazz Project. Vibraphonist Dave Samuels was also featured on that record.

Manager Richie Bonilla told news agencies that Valentin, 64, who had suffered multiple strokes over the last several years, died Wednesday from stroke complications and Parkinson's disease.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The all-star combo from Juanita High School's jazz band made their studio session on 88.5 with young trumpeter and educator Jared Hall featured on trumpet, and proved they're ready to take their place among the promising teen jazz ensembles around the Northwest.

The New Cool: Passion for the Hammond B3

Mar 3, 2017
Ernie Sapiro Photography

Unveiled to the public in 1935, the Hammond Clock Company sold nearly 2,000 Model A organs to churches in the first three years of production. To this day, when I hear the warm, pulsing of the B-3, it sounds like gospel music.

In the '60s and '70s, with the help of jazz players like Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, Shirley Scott and rock groups like the Allman Brothers, the Hammond organ became a powerful messenger of soul and funk. For many jazz musicians of the 21st Century, the Hammond organ is reclaiming it's place as the backbone of countless varieties of soulful sounds.

drummercafe.com

I was disheartened to see a recent Facebook post about master percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo.  It said he was having medical problems which have prevented him from performing for the last couple of years.  The future of Latin jazz without contributions from Mañenguito (Hidalgo's nickname) would be unthinkable.

Abe Beeson

Sixteen year-old Mairead Rising plays tenor saxophone and sings with the Glacier Peak High School Jazz Band in Snohomish, Wash.  She shares an hour of her favorite jazz with Abe Beeson on March 2 from 8-9 p.m. on KNKX's Evening Jazz.  Check out Mairead's killer version of The Jazz Messengers' "Moanin'" from Glacier Peak's School Of Jazz studio performance from January.

Which instrument do you play and why?

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