Jazz and Blues

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

The New Cool: Jazz Meets Funk For Mardi Gras

Feb 24, 2017
Justin Steyer / KNKX

In 1971, Bobby Byrd asked his boss James Brown what he was going to play next. James famously replied, "I don't know. But whatever it is, it's got to be funky!", and the drums and bass kick in.

For me, that's the heart and soul of funk music right there, and most people would say it happened at the beginning. But funk wasn't born in the '70s, or even the late '60s, but back at the birth of American music alongside jazz in New Orleans.

SFJAZZ

Saxophonist Miguel Zenón brings his quartet back to Seattle on March 1, for a performance at PONCHO Concert Hall at Cornish College for the Arts.  Their most recent recording, "Típico," focuses on the quartet itself, celebrating the magic that happens when a band creates together for more than 15 years.  We'll hear some of that magic this week on Saturday Jazz Caliente.

Mount Si Band

Knkx congratulates the Edmonds-Woodway, Mountlake Terrace and Mount Si High School jazz bands on becoming finalists in the 22nd annual Essentially Ellington Competition & Festival.  This year's event will be held from May 11-13 in New York at Jazz at Lincoln Center. 

americansabor.org

This week on Saturday Jazz Caliente, we'll hear the theme song of the orchestra known as Machito and his Afro-Cubans.  The piece is called "Tanga," composed by trumpeter and arranger Mario Bauzá.  This "Tanga" had nothing to do with skimpy underwear; the song title was derived from an African word for marijuana.

Getty Images

Late-February in the Northwest is a non-turning point. The Presidents’ Day three-day weekend feels like a holiday, but unless your making tracks on the ski slopes, the weather usually doesn’t offer much worth celebrating. With spring still a month away, this Puget Sound native knows it’s time to mix things up.

Jazz at Lincoln Center

The Grammy Awards show will be televised this Sunday, Feb. 12, at 5 p.m. PST.  This week on Jazz Caliente, we're featuring music from all five Grammy nominees for Best Latin Jazz Album, and believe me, I'd be hard-pressed to pick a "winner" this year.  They're all outstanding recordings.

The New Cool: Spanning The Globe With Coolness

Feb 10, 2017
Agogo Records

One of the biggest drivers of the creation of The New Cool show on knkx has been the proliferation of incredible modern jazz talent right here in the Pacific Northwest.

This week's show provides another opportunity to showcase "Cascade cool" with current Seattle residents Bill Frisell and Jeff Johnson, as well as Portland favorites Trio Subtonic and the Todd Bishop Quartet.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Until very recently, Decatur High School in Federal Way didn’t have a jazz combo.  What they had was a full jazz big band.  When knkx put out the call to regional school jazz programs to send us demo tapes so we could select groups for live studio sessions, Decatur’s band director, Jeff Chang, recorded the big band and sent it in. 

Geraldine Wyckoff

The Cultural Exchange Pavilion at this year's Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans will feature musicians from Cuba, like revered jazz pianist Chucho Valdes (the "Duke Ellington of Cuba") and timba stars Los Van Van.  The "heritage" part of this annual festival is all about acknowledging the many international influences present in New Orleans culture, food and music. 

Abe Beeson

As a young music fan, I considered the radio DJ the ultimate gatekeeper to good taste and sophistication. Humbly, now in that position, I still do.

But the next generation of music fans has a different idea of what a DJ is. No longer sequestered behind a microphone in a cramped, dimly lit room filled with records and maybe a stick of incense, today’s DJ is at the front of the stage in a giant arena, surrounded by lights and computers.

Molly Gillespie

Harrison Hannon is 21 years old and a senior at South Puget Sound Community College.  He plays drums in the jazz band. 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The Glacier Peak High School Jazz Band director Tad Morris has raised some talented musicians under his care, with a largely senior class combo well-equipped with skills and a deep understanding of the importance of jazz.

Asked what this music means to them, bassist Alex Sturlaugson talked about how jazz transcends race, religion and politics and connects us on a deep level. Then there was the music.

J. Scott Shrader

The New Cool knows that the essence of jazz is in its immediacy, as it's happening. Records can document amazing moments in time, but this music was meant to be ever changing. And so the most rewarding moments in jazz are most often when you experience the music in person.

This week's program brings another chance for you to catch the coolest modern jazz for free, as we give away tickets to catch the bicoastal modern jazz group Kneebody at Nectar in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood on February 19.

Most jazz fans are familiar with Brazilian samba and bossa nova, since those musical styles have mixed with jazz beautifully for decades.  But Brazil is a large diverse country with many other regional rhythms and musical styles that also blend nicely with jazz.  

Tim Knox Photography

Born and raised in soulful '70s Philadelphia, Adam Dorn’s father, Joel, was producing hits for Atlantic Records for Roberta Flack, Simon & Garfunkel, John Coltrane and George Benson to name a few.

Bass was Adam’s first instrument, and at age 15 he sent a fan letter to Miles Davis’ bass player, Marcus Miller, who invited the young man to hang out in his recording studio. One visit turned into three years, and eventually a degree from the prestigious Berklee College of Music.

  • Dave Peck Trio w/ Jeff Johnson & John Bishop
  • February 17, 7:30
  • Tula's Restaurant and Jazz Club

Seth Wenig / AP Photo

On this week's Saturday Jazz Caliente we'll hear some of maestro Eddie Palmieri's original music for the documentary "Doin' It in the Park," a film by Bobbito Garcia about the pick-up basketball game culture in NYC's parks.

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.

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