Jazz and Blues

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

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Masters award, which comes with a $25,000 prize, is widely described as United States' highest honor for jazz. Today, the NEA announced its four newest recipients of the prize: pianist Joanne Brackeen, guitarist Pat Metheny, singer Dianne Reeves and producer Todd Barkan.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The energy in the KNKX studios was evident just days from graduation for three of the Shorecrest High School Jazz Band's Allstar quintet. With their mentor, saxophonist Mark Taylor's guidance, the fellows found the groove and wouldn't let go.

Justin Steyer / KNKX

The members of the Greyboy Allstars are a busy bunch, making their two-nights at Nectar Lounge in Fremont on June 15th and 16th a special occasion for their fans in the Pacific Northwest.

Yolydia / wikicommons CC BY-SA 3.0

What we call "Latin Jazz" is usually jazz played over Afro-Cuban or Brazilian rhythms.  We've explored Afro-Peruvian jazz, and now it's time to look to Puerto Rico.  

The folkloric Afro-Puerto Rican styles of Bomba and Plena also lend themselves nicely to latin jazz.

Abe Beeson

Everett High School seniors Paul Jaton and Ethan Schmidt are KNKX's guest student DJs for June.

Marc Ressang

You might imagine Doc Cheatham raising his eyebrows at the sounds of his grandson's music. Trumpeter Theo Croker was inspired to play by watching his famous trumpeter and band leader grandpa, but his young career has been driven by musical exploration.

Raised in Florida, Croker began to attract attention as a trumpeter in his teens, which led to being doggedly recruited by jazz legend Donald Byrd to study in the jazz program at Oberlin College.

Judy Morales/Fania Records

In 1964, multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Johnny Pacheco and his friend Jerry Masucci started a tiny record label called Fania.  The company grew from very small beginnings (Pacheco delivered their first records personally to music stores from the trunk of his car) to become the powerhouse of Latin music known as the Motown of salsa.

The New Cool: Mark Guiliana, Drummer Up Front

May 26, 2017
Deneka Peniston

When a friend recently told me that drummer Mark Guiliana is not just swinging through the Northwest with saxman Donny McCaslin's group next month, he's also bringing his own band to town this fall, it was juicy news indeed.

Guiliana is one of the most beloved drummers in modern jazz, or as the New York Times wrote, he's "a drummer around whom a cult of admiration has formed."

Jerry Lacay / Carlini Media

Francisco Aguabella was one of the Conga Kings, raised in the drumming tradition of Matanzas, Cuba, an area dedicated to preserving African traditions.

He played batá drums for religious and folkloric ensembles, and conga drums for the popular styles of mambo, rumba, son and Latin jazz.  

Dizzy Gillespie called Aguabella the "John Coltrane of the conga drums."

The New Cool: Too Many Zooz, Just Enough Rhythm

May 19, 2017
Brian Zak / Times Colonist

James Brown famously told his band that every instrument in the band was a drum, or at least, had the potential to be used to emphasize the beat rather than or in addition to the melody. The New York trio Too Many Zooz seems to take this philosophy to its logical conclusion.

The New Cool: Ballard Jazz Festival Preview

May 12, 2017
Ballard Jazz Festival photo gallery

Now in their 15th year, the folks at the Ballard Jazz Festival have put together quite a collection of talent for this year, including many of our favorite artists on The New Cool. On this week’s show, you’ll get a heaping helping of this festival’s coolest, and no lutefisk jokes.

Lionel DECOSTER / CC BY SA 3.0

Trombonist Steve Turre grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where, he says, he "absorbed daily doses of mariachi, blues and jazz."  

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.

Daniel Berman / www.bermanphotos.com

It’s one thing to play the coolest modern jazz on the radio for a couple hours each Saturday; it’s quite another to take the show directly to the people.

The full schedule for the 46th annual Northwest Folklife Festival has been released, and we couldn’t be more excited to bring you three of The New Cool’s favorite modern jazz groups from the Pacific Northwest live on stage at the iconic Memorial Day weekend music and arts extravaganza at the Seattle Center.

Daniel Shen / CC BY-SA 2.0

Us Latin jazz fans love our rhythms. They are the special sauce in the music that moves us.  Here's one of the rhythm makers who goes well beyond time-keeping, and transports us to different worlds: Airto Moreira.

Abe Beeson

Eighteen year-old Shelby Archer goes to Newport High School in Bellevue and plays saxophone in the jazz band.  She shares an hour of her favorite jazz with Abe Beeson on Evening Jazz, May 4 from 8-9 p.m.  More about Shelby:

Which instrument do you play and why?

My main instrument is alto saxophone, and I have played that in almost every ensemble I’ve been in up until this year. This year, I play alto in my school’s wind ensemble and I now play tenor in my jazz band. I also play percussion for my school’s philharmonic orchestra and marching band.

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.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

When the teenage all-stars of Five Feet Up came to play live on 88.5 recently, we were excited to see three old/young friends: Bell Thompson and Margaux Bouchegnies on trumpet and bass had performed in our studios as half of the 10 O'Clock Quartet. Guitarist Julia Tanner had played live on 88.5 with her bandmates from the Melba Liston All-Star Combo.

Pianist/keyboard player/composer Kris Bowers says the title of his debut album "Heroes + Misfits" refers to his generation. The “heroes” of the protest movements from Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter, and the “misfits” he sees in his peers’ drive to be individuals with their own style and personality.

That sounds like a generation of jazz fans to me.

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.

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 Sexmob.

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.

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