Jazz and Blues | KNKX

Jazz and Blues

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

Seattle Art Fair

Jul 13, 2018
Seattle Art Fair

  • Seattle Art Fair
  • August 2-5, 11:00 AM - 8:00 PM
  • CenturyLink Field Event Center. Seattle

Poncho Sanchez

Jul 13, 2018

The New Cool: Producers Out Front

Jul 13, 2018
How can anyone know what all these knobs do?
Abe Beeson

Music producers have traditionally been behind the scenes, but this week's New Cool brings new releases from three multi-talented knob-twisters and fader-riders getting a lot of attention recently. Now to be sure, these three are multi-instrumentalists. But, like Ellington, Basie and all the big band leaders, they have their minds focused on the sound of the group first.

Herbert Behrens / Anefo / CC BY-SA 3.0 nl

Legendary trumpeter Lee Morgan would have celebrated his 80th birthday today.

The story of 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 2016 film "I Called Him Morgan."

The New Cool: Holiday Weekend Funk Party

Jul 6, 2018
Abe Beeson

With the Independence Day parties landing smack in the middle of this week, the New Cool helps you keep the barbecue hot through the weekend with two hours of funky modern jazz. It's a mix to get you moving Saturday afternoon, from the funk origins of New Orleans to Africa-via-London, from cutting edge dance floor experiments to good ol' greasy organ trios, KNKX has what you need.

Kiki Valera with La Familia Valera Miranda at Seattle's Town Hall 2013
EyeShot Jazz/Daniel Sheehan Photography / eyeshotjazz.com

Son Cubano is one of the most popular musical styles of Cuba.  We're lucky to have one of its foremost practioners right here in Seattle.  His name is Kiki Valera, and he's presenting a Cuban serenade at the Triple Door next week:  La Serenata Cubana.

ABE BEESON/KNKX

Eighteen year-old Conrad Medina, who recently graduated Auburn Mountainview High School is KNKX’s guest DJ on July 5 from 8-9pm. Conrad received the “Louis Armstrong Award” at his High School in recognition of his outstanding musical achievement and an incredible dedication to the program. It is the highest level interscholastic award given to a musician. He will be attending The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall. 

José Mangual, Sr. on the cover of the 1977 album Buyú
Turnstyle Records/Martin Cohen/congahead/Latin Percussion

Bongocero José Mangual performed with nearly all of the American musicians who were discovering Latin rhythms from the 1940s through the 1970s, including Count Basie, Miles Davis and Erroll Garner.  He was also a huge inspiration to the founder of the one of the most popular percussion instrument manufacturing companies in the United States.

Dee Dee Bridgewater at the Victoria International JazzFest
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Memphis-born singer Dee Dee Bridgewater broke into jazz with the great Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, and she's collaborated with Ray Charles and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1975 she won a Tony Award for her role as Glenda the Good Witch in The Wiz, and also won accolades for her tributes to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Horace Silver. Three times a Grammy winner, Bridgewater is renowned for her live performances, including her recent album and tour honoring the soul music she grew up with, Memphis... Yes, I'm Ready.

Ghost-Note is co-led by Snarky Puppy rhythm section mates Robert Searight (drum kit) and Nate Werth (percussion). Originating as a percussion duo, they've built a band with a "rotating cast of serious cats" including former Prince bass player MonoNeon on their new album Swagism. Funky grooves with more than a touch of psychedelic improvisation is their trademark, with rhythm in the spotlight.

The New Cool: Duende Libre's American Drift

Jun 22, 2018
Abe Beeson

Seattle-based trio Duende Libre is releasing its new album Drift with a party at the Rainier Arts Center on Friday, June 29th. Band leader and keys player Alex Chadsey sat down to talk with me about the trio's latest release, and their continuing exploration of musical influences from around the globe.

The New Cool: Loads Of Live Action In Seattle

Jun 15, 2018
Tom Collins

Summer officially arrives June 21st, and the busy concert season is kicking into high gear for fans of modern jazz in Seattle. Along with popular international jazz festivals in Victoria and Vancouver, BC beginning next weekend, there are some amazing modern jazz shows happening around the Emerald City in the next few days. Do your stretches, put your phone on mute, and try to catch 'em all!

Pianist and bandleader Oscar Hernández
courtesy of the artist

The Spanish Harlem Orchestra returns to Seattle's Jazz Alley June 21-24.  It's their 15th anniversary tour, and a celebration of the release of their latest CD Anniversary.

I caught up with bandleader Oscar Hernández by phone, and we talked about his early days as musician and arranger in New York, forming the SHO, and more:

The New Cool: trioKAIT's New Adventure

Jun 8, 2018
Peter Figen Photography, Los Angeles

A listener recently asked about a pianist they heard on KNKX, who "sounded like Lyle Mays. Thanks!" A little research led me to L.A. based pianist Kait Dunton's cover of "Under the Bridge" by Red Hot Chili Peppers. While she may remind you of the great keys player from the Pat Metheny Group, the TrioKAIT do things their own way.

1974 album cover Fania All Stars Latin Soul Rock
courtesy of Fania Records/www.fania.com

This week's Latin Soul selection on Saturday Jazz Caliente is "Viva Tirado," from the Fania All Stars 1974 collection Latin-Soul-Rock.  The composition, written by the great jazz arranger Gerald Wilson, has an interesting history and has proved to be an enduring piece of shared culture. 

Here's the original and just a few of the many different recordings of "Viva Tirado."

Abe Beeson/KNKX

Seventeen year-old Ballard High School junior Joe Fotheringham shares his favorite jazz with Abe Beeson on Thursday, June 7 from 8-9 p.m. on KNKX's Evening Jazz.  Joe received an Honorable Mention-Trumpet Soloist at the recent Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition in New York City.

The New Cool: The Expansions' Funky Fusion

Jun 1, 2018
Charlie Moreton

Unleashing their debut album nearly five years after their first single, the London-based quartet The Expansions lay down the jazz fusion grooves that will have you reaching for bellbottoms and wide collars. The sounds of the funky 70s are back on the six-song effort Murmuration, and on The New Cool this week, you'll hear a tune that could've been a lost track from Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters.

The New Cool Stage at Folklife

May 25, 2018
Abe Beeson

The KNKX modern jazz show The New Cool returns to host a stage at the Northwest Folklife Festival on Saturday, presenting three of our favorite forward-thinking groups from our own backyard. Yours truly, Abe Beeson, will be on stage to introduce Tacoma group 322, recent studio session guests Bad News Botanists, and the powerful horns of the Ten Man Brass Band.

Students from Central Washington University and pianist Dawn Clement performed in our Seattle studios for a special School of Jazz performance.

Bassist Domi Edson arranged the first tune, a lively fun rendition of Chick Corea’s “Spain.” She said she has most of her ideas for arrangements at night when trying to fall asleep. It was fun watching Owen Evans, Ryan McKnight and Henry Sparks trading solos on the alto saxophone, tenor saxophone and trombone.

The New Cool: Busy Weekend In Ballard

May 18, 2018
Parker Miles Blohm

Not much of a post this week, I've dedicated my writing to preview the Ballard Jazz Festival. I hope to see you in the clubs Saturday night!

Percussion master Steve Kroon tosses the chekeré
courtesy of the artist

Steven Kroon was raised in Harlem and Queens, and what he learned there has taken him on 15 world tours and given him 50 years in the business of professional percussion.

Parker Miles Blohm

May 16 - 19, the Ballard Jazz Festival presents a big change in scheduling this year, but you'll find the same fantastic lineup of the Northwest's finest jazz musicians and internationally acclaimed talent over 4 nights in the city's increasingly crowded fishing village. Let's take a look at the changes, and preview some of my "must-see" performances.

Mountlake Terrace High School
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

We welcomed an energetic and skilled high school combo into our studios with Mountlake Terrace.  Band members included leader Ethan Pyke on trombone, Benjamin Leonard on tenor sax, Henry Smith-Hunt on trombone, Gian Neri on guitar, Josh Setala on drums and Dimitrio Neri on piano.  

The New Cool: Seattle-Portland Groovin' at Tula's

May 11, 2018
Used with kind permission of the costumed.

Seattle's mighty Hammond organ and drums combo of Joe Doria and Tarik Abouzied are friends and collaborators in McTuff, Happy Orchestra and other various line-ups. Their new project includes an icon of Portland's jazz scene, guitarist Dan Balmer, with a new recording and a live show at Tula's Friday, May 18th.

Pianist/Composer/Bandleader/Educator Rebeca Mauleón
Chuck Gee / courtesy of the artist

This week's Saturday Jazz Caliente celebrates Mother's Day with an (almost) all-women show.  Favorites like clarinetist Anat Cohen, violinist Regina Carter, percussionist Sheila E, and pianist Eliane Elias are in the line-up.  Here are the rest; perhaps lesser known, but just as talented female instrumentalists:

Abe Beeson / KNKX

I'm just back from a fantastic trip to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. There are far too many moments from the festival grounds to mention here, but on Sunday night I found an allstar group of New Cool favorites on the edge of the French Quarter.

Cinco de Mayo Parade, Mexico City 2017
(AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

As we celebrate Mexican and Mexican-American culture, let's go beyond tacos and tequila, and recognize Mexico's contribution to jazz and Latin jazz.  This week on Saturday Jazz Caliente, we'll hear from one prominent Mexican-American Latin jazz musician, Poncho Sanchez.  Here are a few more:

  • Peter Eldridge & Sara Gazarek
  • 1 pair of tickets for May 18th at 8:00pm
  • JazzVox: Renton

Issac Ford and Ian McTamaney, who attend Kelso High school, are KNKX's guest DJs on May 3 from 8-9 p.m.

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