Jazz and Blues

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

It’s 1937. Famous jazz impresario John Hammond has signed on as the Count Basie Orchestra’s promoter, and brings the band to New York for a pivotal engagement at the Roseland Ballroom.

Parker Miles Blohm / knkx

It was a return visit and a farewell party when the Tyrant Lizard trio performed in the knkx studios recently.

Bass player Carmen Rothwell had already relocated to New York City and guitarist Gregg Belisle-Chi was just days away from following her, leaving trumpeter Raymond Larsen to reassure us this wouldn't be the last we hear from this dynamic Northwest-grown threesome.

sonando.org

Get to know two of the local Latin jazz groups featured this week on Saturday Jazz Caliente: Sonando and the vintage Brazilian jazz outfit called Choroloco.

The New Cool: Coolest Grammy Nominees

Jan 6, 2017
knkx

It’s been a few weeks since the Recording Academy announced their nominees for this year’s Grammys – broadcast special on February 12 – but after the holiday craziness, I’ve just noticed them. And I’ve also noticed that a few of our favorites on The New Cool are up for big awards, and not always in the jazz category.

"El flautista cubano Orlando Valle 'Maraca'" by Maracavalle is Licensed under CC BY 3.0 bit.ly/2hYevpM

The flute may not be as prominent in jazz as trumpet or saxophone, but a well-played flute solo can really punch up a Latin jazz tune.

The flute came to Latin jazz through a number of paths.  Here are examples of the two main contributors:

Edmonds-Woodway High School senior Brandt Fisher is our first guest student DJ of 2017.  He shares his hour of favorite jazz with Abe Beeson Thursday, January 5 from 8 to 9 p.m.

Portland's jazz scene suffered a major loss to ring in the New Year. Jimmy Makarounis, the longtime owner of famed Portland jazz venue Jimmy Mak's, has died after a prolonged battle with cancer.

His death comes days after Jimmy Mak's closed down so Makarounis could focus on his treatment.

The New Cool: Coolness In The KNKX Studios

Dec 30, 2016
Parker Miles Blohm / knkx

Looking back at the year behind us, the newly christened knkx studios were home to a bevy of top young jazz talent, and on this week's edition of The New Cool, we'll remember four of our favorite groups who explored the limits of improvisation live on 88.5.

Mark Peterson/Corbis

In Tito Puente's musical career that spanned six decades, he earned the nickname "El Rey" (The King), three times:  King of the Timbales,  Mambo King and King of Latin Jazz.  

Regularly clad in a sports jacket with elbow pads and a casual, button-up shirt, Robert Walter comes off more professorial than soul jazz wild man. Don't be fooled, he's been laying down grooves and heating up dance floors on a variety of (mostly) electric keys for more than 20 years.

A founding member of the Greyboy Allstars, Walter has a sound that's earned him airplay on nearly every episode of The New Cool so far. Aside from the all-star band, his 20th Congress, and other solo albums, he's made himself at home grooving with funky New Orleans drummer Stanton Moore's trio.

waynewallacelatinjazzquintet.com

You wouldn't necessarily expect Bloomington, Indiana to be a hotbed of Afro-Cuban, Caribbean and South American jazz.  

Think again.  

They're not the first all-female jazz band to perform in the knkx studios, but after hearing the teens from Seattle JazzEd, it's about time it stops feeling like a special occasion.

Featuring their mentor Susan Pascal on vibes, the ladies thrilled our packed studio audience with jazz, soul, and a song by the modern jazz outfit Snarky Puppy, and made us forget about girls vs. boys.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Knkx, in partnership with the Broadway Center, presented the Holiday Jam concert and live broadcast on December 4, marking a 20-year tradition of bringing holiday cheer to the Northwest and audiences worldwide.

Parker Miles Blohm / knkx

Blowing down from Minneapolis, The Bad Plus have been world-wide icons of modern jazz since the beginning of the century. A unique blend of Ethan Iverson's aggressive acoustic piano with classical echoes, Reid Anderson's rock solid yet fluid bass, and Dave King's play-every-inch-of-the-kit drumming, the trio has all the energy of a young rock band, but with the collaborative improvisation of a long-running jazz band.

International Music Network

Cuban pianist are known throughout the world as among the best.  This week, we'll feature some of the modern-day Cuban piano stars:  Chucho Valdes, Omar Sosa and Emilano Salvador.  

The piano arrived in Cuba in the late 18th century and was quickly elevated to favored instrument status, especially for popular dances like the guaracha and contradanzas.  Thus began the Cuban piano tradition. 

Emma-Lee Photography

Female instrumentalists of all types have been part of jazz since its inception, but for many of them getting recognition and acceptance has been a long, hard road.  Even more so with Latin jazz, it seems. Times and attitudes do change, albeit slowly.  

Here are three talented, dedicated, and creative women making their mark in Latin jazz, and serving as mentors and inspiration for an upcoming generation:

NPR Music

In 1971, pianist, composer and bandleader Eddie Palmieri put out a formative album called 'Harlem River Drive.' Written in the heat of racial turbulence, its lyrics addressed the inequality Puerto Ricans faced in New York City. The album served as a form of protest, as well as commentary on social-justice issues for the people of El Barrio, East Harlem.

Though the Latin funk classic didn't take off in the early '70s, it later became an underground classic. Its enduring songs remain relevant today.

Every year, blues connoisseur John Kessler compiles a list of his favorite blues records. This year, he features a wide swath of talent new and old. Enjoy! 

The Grammy award he received for his “Black Radio” album in 2012 was in the Best R&B Album category, but there’s a lot of jazz improvisation happening in the music of Robert Glasper.

Ninth grader P.J. Colino, who plays alto sax and clarinet in the Seattle Academy Jazz Ensemble, is our guest student DJ for December.

Robin Llloyd 2013

Everyone is talking about Cuba.  

Fidel Castro's death combined with uncertainties about the incoming U.S. administration's stance on trade and aid in Cuba has put the island in the spotlight once again.  

It's a land of contrasts, that's for certain.  It's also a compellingly beautiful place with warm, funny, smart, resilient people.

The fusion of rock ’n’ roll with jazz has existed since the birth of rock – I would even argue folks like Cab Calloway, Louis Prima, and especially Louis Jordan, helped invent it. As jazz moves through a new century, and early rock stars and fans move into their 70s, there’s still plenty of choice territory for the two styles to intertwine.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Mercer Island High School has a remarkable jazz orchestra, so we were very much looking forward to this live distillation of that band—the Mercer Island Jazz Combo.  You’ll hear the students on saxophone, trombone, bass, drums and piano.  Their mentor, Thomas Marriott is the featured trumpet player.  This live KNKX Studio Session is hosted by our own Mary McCann. Hit ‘play.’

Latin Jazz is rich with compelling percussion sounds.  Many of the percussion instruments originate from Africa, and are tied to spiritual and religious ceremonies.  Here are a couple of favorites:

You've heard him live in the knkx studios with fellow Tacoman Kareem Kandi, and now he's in the spotlight - Hammond organ master Delvon Lamarr's debut with his organ trio, the DLO3, is out now, and it's just the thing to steam up a cold winter in the Northwest.

lpmusic.com

Latin jazz musicians believe in showing respect to the elders and originators of the music.  This week we feature 95-year-old conga drum master Candido Camero and we remember Cuban composer, arranger and bandleader Chico O'Farrill.

Epic Young Sax Star Kamasi Washington Returns

Nov 18, 2016

Although the Bumbershoot music festival wouldn't look familiar to anyone who'd seen jazz stars like Tony Bennett, Pharoah Sanders and Abdullah Ibrahim on the Seattle Center campus in past years, this summer's big Seattle music party did include one jazz group: Kamasi Washington.

Mose Allison had a sharp eye for the way the world works, and doesn't. The pianist, singer and composer's acerbic lyrics, syncopated piano playing and distinctive southern drawl were beloved by jazz fans — and by the British rockers who covered his songs, from The Who to The Clash to Van Morrison.

Tickets are no longer available for this event.  The Broadway Center is now taking names for a wait list and tickets will be released upon availability. 

Lena Adasheva

This week we feature music from some of the nominees for Best Latin Jazz Album for this year's Latin Grammys.  The awards show will be on November 17 in Las Vegas.

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