Jazz and Blues | KNKX

Jazz and Blues

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."

Courtesy of John Kessler

KNKX's long-time All Blues host, John Kessler was named Best Blues DJ at the 2018 Washington Blues Society "Best of the Blues" (B.B.) Awards on Sunday, April 15 at the Northwest Music Hall in Everett.  The awards show honored musicians, artists, events and venues nominated by Blues Society members in 32 award categories.  John was also nominated for this year's Keeping the Blues Alive Award. He won a national Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the Memphis-based Blues Foundation in 2009.

Earshot Jazz Managing Director Karen Caropepe, 2018 Seattle Jazz Hero
Daniel Sheehan Photography (www.danielsheehan.com)

April is Jazz Appreciation Month; a celebration of America's homegrown art form all month long, ending with a global all-star concert on International Jazz Day, April 30.  This year's concert will be held in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation.

In Seattle, the festivities began with a night of awards for musicians, presenters, educators and heroes.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Atlanta, GA 1966
Anonymous / AP

On the day we celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., let's revisit his thoughts on Jazz and Blues from his address to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival:

88.5 KNKX continues its tradition of bringing yuletide cheer to the Northwest with a concert of music for the season—incorporating some of the area’s best student groups and regional jazz musicians.  The KNKX Holiday Jam and Live Broadcast will be presented for the first time ever at Edmonds Center for the Arts on Monday, December 4 from 7-8 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson.  The event is free and open to the public, and will be broadcast live on-air and streamed live at knkx.org

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.

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.

iamthebluesmovie.com

Canadian filmmaker Daniel Cross spent three years traveling through Mississippi and Louisiana to search out the elders and originators, in order to compose his love song to the American blues.  

You can almost smell the crawfish boil and feel the muggy heat of the Deep South through the screen.  And of course, the blues is everywhere.

Abramorama

This well-constructed documentary is informative and entertaining.  Rarely-seen photos and home movies plus interviews with family members round out the picture of the iconic saxophonist who was always searching and pushing forward.  

Musicians Benny Golson, Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner and others are all eloquently emotional in remembering their friend John.  Denzel Washington gives convincing reads of Coltrane's words from interviews from 1957-1967.  Of course, the music is sublime.

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.

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.  

maceoparker.com

The Earshot Jazz Festival and Seattle Theatre Group will present Maceo Parker on Saturday, October 29 at the Moore Theatre.  As you may know, Mid Day Jazz on the new 88.5 knkx is home to the occasional feature, The Maceo Mandate, wherein we encourage listeners to take a break and "shake it loose" with the music of Maceo Parker.

Philadelphia has bred an astonishing number of great jazz musicians, like John Coltrane, Philly Joe Jones and so many more.  According to 81-year-old drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath, "Some guys joke and say it's in the water;  a lot of wonderful people that I grew up with and experienced playing with came out of Philadelphia."

chicofreeman.com

Saxophonist Chico Freeman has been on a 10-year journey of discovery. 

"I always wanted to try to live in another place, besides the United States.  I went from Chicago to New York, and I always had it in my mind that I wanted to base myself somewhere else in the world.  I wanted to edify myself about other cultures and how people express music relative to their cultures," he says. 

Michael Jackson

Drummer Matt Wilson delights in being a little different.  His enthusiasm for the quirky is infectious, as I found out in our phone conversation last week.

edreedsings.com

Singer Ed Reed and saxophonist Anton Schwartz met almost 10 years ago in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Ed was 78 years old at the time, and was just beginning to get recognized as a jazz singer.

Partly due to his love of jazz, Ed has survived drug addiction and multiple prison terms.  Four CDs later, he’s been on the Downbeat Critic’s Poll list of “Rising Stars” for six years, topping that list in 2014. 

Daniel Sheehan / danielsheehan.com

On April first, the Jazz Journalists Association announced its list of 2015 Jazz Heroes: advocates, altruists, activists, aiders and abettors of jazz who have had significant impact in their local communities.

The 'Jazz Hero' awards, made annually on the basis of nominations from community members, are presented in conjunction with the JJA's annual Jazz Awards honoring significant achievements in jazz music and journalism and with the month-long celebration of JazzApril.

Randy Cole

Initiated last year by Kent Devereaux, the former Music Department Chair of Cornish College of the Arts, the Seattle Jazz Experience is a youth jazz festival that presents two full days of workshops and performances this Friday and Saturday at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center.  It's  collaboration between Cornish, Earshot Jazz, Seattle JazzEd and Seattle Center.

Dr. David Deacon-Joyner, Director of Jazz Studies at Pacific Lutheran University is on the steering committee for the festival.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Although actor/singer/guitarist Tom Wopat is best known for his role as Luke Duke in the long-running television series "The Dukes Of Hazzard," his best artistic work was still ahead of him when that series ended.

Instead of seeking more television work, Wopat pursued his first love, music. He has recorded 10 albums in a variety of genres, and has performed in several Broadway musicals including "Annie Get Your Gun" with Bernadette Peters.

Wopat is currently touring with his jazz group, and we were very pleased that he could make time to visit the KPLU Performance Studio. All he brought with him was a guitar, his fine voice and some good stories.

Eddy Westveer

"The Sound of Redemption:  The Frank Morgan Story" will be showing on Saturday, Oct. 25 at NW Film Forum in Seattle as part of the Earshot Jazz Film Festival. Frank Morgan was a prodigy, a young West Coast saxophonist who was hailed as "the next Charlie Parker." Morgan's life and career were stalled for 30 years because of heroin use, felonies and prison sentences.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

For many years, pianist Helen Sung devoted herself fully to classical piano studies.  So much so, in fact, that when a friend invited her out to hear Harry Connick, Jr., Helen had no idea who he was.

When she heard Harry do a series of solo piano jazz pieces she says she nearly jumped out of her skin. She’d never heard piano played like that.

From that point on, Helen focused her considerable talents on jazz. Today, Helen Sung is one of the most inventive and respected jazz pianists of her generation.

Ever since the 1960s, when she worked as a solo blues singer and member of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, Maria Muldaur has been dedicated to traditional American music, primarily blues and gospel. In 1973, she had her biggest hit record, Midnight At The Oasis.  Maria and her band stopped by the KPLU Performance Studio during a tour celebrating the 40th anniversary of the recording of that song.

Joybox Express

Boogie-woogie and blues pianist Mark Braun (a.k.a. Mr. B) has fond memories of touring in the Pacific Northwest. KPLU has played his recordings for more than 20 years. I've followed Mr. B for some time, because there's not much I like better than his style of piano playing, the music that came up from New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta.

What I didn't know about him until recently is that he's also a dedicated amateur athlete, an avid bicyclist and an advocate for getting kids active in the arts and athletics.

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

I belong to a Facebook group called “Jam Of The Week.” Each week, the group’s founder, a wonderful Portland trumpet player named Farnell Newton, picks a jazz tune, and any musician from anywhere in the world can post a video of himself or herself playing a one chorus solo over the tune.

In about a month the group had more than 10,000 members, and hundreds and hundreds of videos posted. (Check it out if you get a chance, even if you’re not a musician.)

The other day, one of the members posted the idea of using a pop song one week. The comments that ensued were varied, but many of the jazz snobs on the site reacted negatively to this idea, with many of them slamming pop music as a whole as vacuous and worthless to jazz musicians.

Joe Goblin / Associated Press

Boz Scaggs: Memphis (429 Records)

A tribute to the Memphis soul-blues tradition, made with some of the city’s best players. His unique rasp has only improved with age, and perfectly complements the laid-back groove that permeates the release. Not all the material is “soul” music, some of the best tracks are the bluesy “Cadillac Walk” and “Dry Spell”. Boz is a master of the simmering blues vibe, slightly restrained, but overflowing with mojo.

James Cotton: Cotton Mouth Man (Alligator Records)

bunky's pickle

Female instrumentalists of all types have been part of jazz since its inception, but for the most part, they have been erased from the history of the music. The film "Lady Be Good: Instrumental Women in Jazz" intends to put the spotlight on the many talented women who have nearly been forgotten.

wikipedia

Guitarist Pat Martino was a jazz and soul-jazz star since the mid-1960s, recording for the Prestige, Muse, Warner Bros. and Blue Note labels.  In 1980, after operations for a brain aneurysm, he could remember nothing.

Steve Korn

Two Seattle natives have been honored by the Jazz Journalists Association Awards for Journalism and Media. 

Seattle author Paul de Barros was presented with the Best Book About Jazz award for his in-depth biography Shall We Play That One Together? The Life and Art of Jazz Piano Legend Marian McPartland.

Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos

Best known for his work with the Modern Jazz Quartet for its entire run (1952-1974), Percy Heath had only been playing bass for about four years when he joined the band.

Heath also recorded with most of the leading musicians in modern jazz, including Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman.

Library of Congress

One of the most influential figures in American music and one of the twentieth century's best known African-American personalities, pianist, composer and bandleader Duke Ellington was, to use one of his signature phrases, "beyond category."

Pages