Jazz and Blues

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

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.

Pixabay / CC0 public domain

This week on Jazz Caliente, we'll hear the sweet sounds of violins.  The violin came to Latin jazz through a style of music called "charanga," as did the flute.  And just like the flute, the violin's history in Cuba has deep roots.

The New Cool: Blackstar Jazz Star Donny McCaslin

Mar 10, 2017
Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images North America

It’s not the kind of fame you want, but sax player Donny McCaslin is reaping the rewards of his band’s work backing up David Bowie on his final album, "Blackstar," released just two days before Bowie’s death.

Accepting one of the five Grammys the album received at this year’s ceremony, McCaslin said, “I’m a better artist and better person for having known him.”

The Bowie influence on McCaslin has been profound, his new release with his quartet "Beyond Now" has been described as a continuation of the music they made on "Blackstar."

Bebeto Matthews / AP Photo

Latin jazz flutist Dave Valentin died March 8; he was 64.  I remember very well the first time I heard him play on his album "The Hawk."

Dave Valentin became one of the pre-eminent flutists in Latin jazz. He was known for his creative combination of fusion, pop and R&B.

He won a Grammy in 2003 for best Latin jazz album for "The Gathering," by the Caribbean Jazz Project. Vibraphonist Dave Samuels was also featured on that record.

Manager Richie Bonilla told news agencies that Valentin, 64, who had suffered multiple strokes over the last several years, died Wednesday from stroke complications and Parkinson's disease.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The all-star combo from Juanita High School's jazz band made their studio session on 88.5 with young trumpeter and educator Jared Hall featured on trumpet, and proved they're ready to take their place among the promising teen jazz ensembles around the Northwest.

The New Cool: Passion for the Hammond B3

Mar 3, 2017
Ernie Sapiro Photography

Unveiled to the public in 1935, the Hammond Clock Company sold nearly 2,000 Model A organs to churches in the first three years of production. To this day, when I hear the warm, pulsing of the B-3, it sounds like gospel music.

In the '60s and '70s, with the help of jazz players like Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, Shirley Scott and rock groups like the Allman Brothers, the Hammond organ became a powerful messenger of soul and funk. For many jazz musicians of the 21st Century, the Hammond organ is reclaiming it's place as the backbone of countless varieties of soulful sounds.

drummercafe.com

I was disheartened to see a recent Facebook post about master percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo.  It said he was having medical problems which have prevented him from performing for the last couple of years.  The future of Latin jazz without contributions from Mañenguito (Hidalgo's nickname) would be unthinkable.

Abe Beeson

Sixteen year-old Mairead Rising plays tenor saxophone and sings with the Glacier Peak High School Jazz Band in Snohomish, Wash.  She shares an hour of her favorite jazz with Abe Beeson on March 2 from 8-9 p.m. on KNKX's Evening Jazz.  Check out Mairead's killer version of The Jazz Messengers' "Moanin'" from Glacier Peak's School Of Jazz studio performance from January.

Which instrument do you play and why?

If you're in Clarksdale, Miss., home of the Delta blues, everybody says you have to go to Red's juke joint. The hole-in-the-wall club is the real deal. It's just a small room, a few tables and a fridge full of beer. Red lights are strung around a low ceiling. On the night we visit, octogenarian Leo "Bud" Welch plays in the center of the room, hunched over a sparkly, hot pink, electric guitar. Red Paden, the owner, sits out front, surveying from behind the bar.

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. 

Pages