Jazz and Blues

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

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.

Abe Beeson

This month's guest student DJ, Drew Thomas, plays trumpet in the Lynnwood High School jazz band. 

Herbert Behrens / Anefo / CC BY-SA 3.0 nl

The story of trumpeter 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 film "I Called Him Morgan."

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.  

The New Cool: Unstoppable Grooves of Velocity

Mar 31, 2017
facebook.com/realvelocitymusic

Tacoma quartet Velocity builds some serious musical inertia when they motor up to Seattle for a show at the Seamonster Lounge on April 1. No fooling, these four take their grooves seriously.

Their songs are mostly written by keyboard player Peter Adams, with Cliff Colon blowing a muscular tenor sax; Rob Hutchinson and Brian Smith form the rhythm pocket at the bass and drums.

courtesy of the artist

Second cousin to the Latin jazz we play on Jazz Caliente is the blend of jazz, Latin, soul and funk that grew up in the streets of New York in the 1960s.  Called Latin soul or boogaloo, it's rhythmic, fun and immensely danceable.

The New Cool: Jazz Philosophers Of Moon Hooch

Mar 24, 2017
Erica Hernandez

The band Moon Hooch only exists thanks to their stubbornness. When sax players Mike Wilbur and Wenzl McGowan were studying at The New School in New York, they didn’t get along. Wenzl says he even dropped a class so he didn’t have to play with Mike. But they had a friend in common, drummer James Muschler, and eventually their proximity (the two young sax men lived across the hall at school) drove them to play together in subway stations to make a few bucks.

Bex Wade

Peruvian music is a blend of Andean, West African and Spanish influences.  Add some American jazz to the mix, and you've got something unique.  You can hear it on Saturday Jazz Caliente, courtesy of innovative musicians like guitarist Richie Zellon and trumpeter Gabriel Alegria.

The New Cool: A Pair of Cool NW LP Previews

Mar 17, 2017

Do you still call them records? Or maybe you refer to a new CD? You're not still talking about the latest tape release, are you? Whatever you call them, new album releases are to musicians what children are to parents - although old albums are a lot easier to forget.

On this week's edition of The New Cool, you'll hear previews of two new releases due in May from two talented young Northwest groups. Both of whom KNKX is working with on upcoming live events.

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