Jazz and Blues

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

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.

You May Already Be a Winner

Nov 11, 2016

Here we go again!

Musical Cannibalism With Cyro Baptista

Nov 11, 2016
NPR Music

Anthropofagia — cultural cannibalism — is a concept based on an essay published by the poet and father of Brazilian modernism, Oswald de Andrade. A passage from that "Manifesto Antropofagico" reads:

"Only cannibalism unites us. Socially. Economically. Philosophically. The unique law of the world. The masked expression of all individualism and collective movement."

pachecopiano.com

On this debut of the hour-long Jazz Caliente, I feature some music from Cuban pianist/composer Jorge Luis Pacheco.  The wonderful folks who joined me on the 88.5 Travel Club trip to Cuba in 2013 were amazed at this young man's performance at the Havana jazz club La Zorra y El Cuervo.  He's performing in Bellingham on Sunday, in Olympia on Wednesday, Nov. 9 and popping in to the Royal Room on Thursday, Nov. 10 to join the show with the Entremundos Quarteto and the Brazilian drum and dance group VamoLá.

The New Cool debut!

Nov 4, 2016

The time is now.

With a hundred years of recorded jazz behind us, KNKX looks to the future. The New Cool is the jazz of today, made by musicians who grew up with hip hop, punk rock, electronic music and a lot of soul. You'll hear a wide variety of styles, from the deep funk of Delvon Lamarr's DLO3 to the veterans of the scene, Medeski Martin & Wood; electronic elements from Mocean Worker and Koop; indie-rock influences of Industrial Revelation and Tuatara; highly rhythmic grooves with agressive improvisation from Theo Croker, Roy Hargrove, Kamasi Washington and more. There's also room for the Americana stylings of Bill Frisell and Julian Lage, and our ears are wide open to your suggestions as well!

A little over four years ago, we asked 88.5 knkx listeners if they wanted to hear more Latin Jazz in our Mid Day Jazz programs.  The response was overwhelmingly positive, and so the Jazz Caliente feature debuted at 2 p.m. on  Thursday July 19, 2012.  The 3-song, 15 minute set of Afro-Cuban and Brazilian jazz has been a highlight of Midday Jazz afternoons.

Meet 16-year-old Dakota Huffman, who hails from Maple Valley and plays in the Tahoma High School jazz band. 

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.

Abe Beeson / knkx

Fourteen-year-old Emma Usui-Villareal is our very first middle school student DJ, and she already possesses a very discerning jazz sensibility.  Emma plays drums in the Eckstein Middle School jazz band. 

Parker Miles Blohm / knkx

Named for their practice room at Pacific Lutheran University, 322 brought 4 of their 5 band members to the knkx studios for an afternoon of cool tunes they wrote themselves. Drawing on their jazz education in standards to the wide variety of music available to college kids, the band clearly finds as much inspiration from modern rock 'n' soul as they do the Great American Songbook.

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."

Note: Each month, knkx invites a teen guest DJ to play his or her favorite pieces on the air. The program is part of knkx's School of Jazz.

Dimitrio Nero from Mountlake Terrace High School is the Student DJ for the month of September. Dimitrio's hour aired from 8 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 8.

To get to know him better, we asked Dimitrio to answer a few questions about jazz:

Which instrument do you play and why?

Rudy Van Gelder, an audio recording engineer who captured the sounds of many of jazz's landmark albums, died Thursday morning in his sleep. He was at his home studio in New Jersey, according to Maureen Sickler, his assistant engineer. He was 91.

Bobby Hutcherson, a vibraphonist whose improvising and composition helped to define modernity for jazz as a whole, has died. He had long struggled with emphysema. He was 75.

As a mallet percussionist, he expanded the scope of what was possible on his instrument. And the sound he created was widely influential.

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. 

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