Live Studio Sessions | KNKX

Live Studio Sessions

Kenny Washington in the KNKX Public Radio Studios
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It's not a well-kept secret, at least in the Bay Area where he's been called the "Superman" of their jazz scene, but Kenny Washington's incredible vocal talents are just starting to get noticed. When he performed live in our studios, it was easy to see he's more comfortable as Clark Kent than the Man of Steel.

Kenny Washington was raised in America's jazz and party capital of New Orleans, but his father kept him away from the wild atmosphere of the French Quarter. His early musical training was in the gospel church, and he only picked up on jazz in his late teens.

Jacqueline Tabor in the KNKX Studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

As a sharp-witted friend noted recently, singer Jacqueline Tabor is " ruining the dour jazz musician stereotype!" The KNKX studio session audience was certainly drawn into the fun when Jacqueline celebrated her new album with The 200 Trio live on KNKX.

The Lady in the Gown, title inspired by our own Nick Morrison's thoughts on Tabor's previous studio session here, features mostly classic jazz standards. There's a reason these songs are still performed, they're both perfectly constructed and open to personal interpretation.

Frank Vitolo of Bad News Botanists live at KNKX Public Radio.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Enjoying a year that has brought his band a lot of positive attention, saxophonist Frank Vitolo brought his Bad News Botanists to our studios for a fun session of original funky jazz. It was a preview of their performance on The New Cool stage at the Northwest Folklife Festival, and more proof that this band is making its mark.

José James Performs Bill Withers
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Like a painter that uses the entire range of his color palette, vocalist Jose James has spent the last ten years working in a wide variety of musical arenas - jazz, soul, R&B, hip hop, pop, electronica, and experimental music. His albums have ranged from a brilliant tribute to Billie Holiday, all the way to a very personal and modern work called "Love In A Time Of Madness." One music critic has noted that his albums are like "a box of chocolates." One thing though, whatever Jose James does, he does it really well.

Jacob Szekely in the KNKX Studios
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

He's not just a terrific player and songwriter, cellist Jacob Szekely is blazing a path for future jazz cellists to follow. With his trio live in our studios, it's clear that his instrument is ready for the jazz spotlight.

Szekely told us that the traditional way of learning cello makes it nearly impossible to translate those skills to improvisation, so he retrained himself to play in a new way. He's also co-founded the String Project of Los Angeles to give other cellists a fresh direction in their musical expression.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Before his performance in our studios, pianist Danny Green told me he hadn't played many solo shows. In fact, his new album One Day It Will adds a string quartet to his long-running trio. After three dazzling songs, however, it was clear Green has plenty to say on his own.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This truck-driving, harmonica-blowing Bluesman won multiple awards in his hometown Minneapolis for his ace songwriting, singing and playing. Then about 10 years ago, Joe Cook moved his family to Seattle and had to start his musical career over again. He started going to some of the many local Blues jam sessions, where he met and teamed up with some of this area’s hottest Blues players.

The New Cool: Live Coolness In the PNW

Apr 13, 2018
Used with permission of the artist - facebook.com/lionelloueke

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, and there are countless ways to celebrate around Puget Sound. Listen to jazz on KNKX, buy some jazz for Record Store Day, and take advantage of the plentiful opportunities to see and hear live jazz. This week on the New Cool we'll preview a few modern jazz shows in the coming weeks.

Spike Wilner in the KNKX Studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

On his path to musical self-discovery, pianist Spike Wilner set out to make himself a part of his New York City community. He'd buy old pianos and give them to bars for free, in exchange for a regular night for Spike to play there. We were happy to provide a freshly tuned piano to Spike when he brought his New York friends with him for a spirited Studio Session.

Pianist and songwriter Marcia Ball brought her signature swampy, bluesy, boogie-woogie roadhouse sound to our studio to celebrate the impending release of her latest album Shine Bright, which comes out April 20.

Marcia’s won ten Blues Music Awards, ten Living Blues Awards, and had five Grammy Award nominations. She has been inducted into both the Gulf Coast Music Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. The Texas State legislature named her the official 2018 Texas State Musician.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

We've grown accustomed to his face, sax player Steve Treseler had performed in the KNKX studios as a sideman and as a mentor to School of Jazz combos, and his own dynamic "In Motion" quartet was a highly anticipated session for us all.

Treseler talked about his early mentors, including sax great Jerry Bergonzi, who taught his young student to love practicing as a way to celebrate a love for your instrument and the intimate act of playing what you feel.

Cole Schuster of 200 Trio
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Just a couple years after bringing guitarist Cole Schuster and bassist Greg Feingold from the Berklee College of Music to Seattle, drummer Max Holmberg and the 200 Trio have certainly endeared themselves to their new hometown.

Redhot & Blue
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Out studio audience had an acapella treat with Redhot & Blue, a 12-piece vocal ensemble from Yale University.

The group kicked off the session with a swinging rendition of “Zoot Suit Riot” featuring bass singer Denis Tse. 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Picking up his first saxophone in 5th grade, Stuart MacDonald made the most of the Seattle school system's jazz educators. Today, working on his Masters in jazz studies at the University of Washington, his education continues even as he teaches younger players a thing or two on the bandstand.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Violin player, composer and bandleader Ranger Sciacca is a massive fan of gypsy jazz guitar legend Django Reinhardt, and his partner, violinist Stephane Grappelli. That said, Ranger's band isn't like most groups who play in this swinging style.

The swing is still the motor that makes this band move, but the Re-Arrangers are breaking some of the unspoken rules of gypsy jazz bands. 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Sharing a guitarist and a studio session performance, Birch Pereira & The Gin Joints split time with the duo Sundae + Mr. Goessl in the KNKX studios, both excited to share new music from upcoming albums. Jason Goessl plays guitar in both bands, and it felt like hanging out in the living room with your most musically talented friends.

The new Gin Joints album is called Western Soul and transports the listener back in time to when jazz, country music and even early rock n roll were powered by an engine of sweet swing.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Pearl Django once again graced our studio for a lively performance that included founding member Guitarist Neil Andersson, now living and working as a painter in California. The group was preparing for a stint at Jazz Alley and gave our studio audience a short preview.

They kicked things off with a lively rendition of “With Friends Like These” written by Tim Lerch and inspired by the song “Just Friends.”  It is the title track to the group’s current release, which also features Andersson.

The Rumba Kings
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It’s only been 8 months since the Rumba Kings’ first Studio Session on KNKX, but we couldn’t resist their excitement over releasing their first recording, a double-disc CD:  The Instrumental and Vocal Sessions, Volume One. 

Once again, their energy and virtuosity delighted our listeners.  The Rumba Kings bold and romantic blend of Latin, Mediterranean and Gypsy music is irresistible!

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Bassist and composer Bren Plummer has put together a tasty band of Northwest allstars for his latest album, Moldy Figs. From Jay Thomas (trumpet) to Stuart MacDonald (sax), D'Vonne Lewis (drums) and Susan Pascal (vibraphone) as well as guitarist Frank Seeburger, it's a group of talented players and bandleaders themselves.

Pascal may have put it best when she explained that she finds Plummer's music fresh and challenging, just what a good jazz musician wants to play.

Saxophonist Joshua Redman
Jay Blakesberg / courtesy of the artist

Joshua Redman's last visit to the KNKX Seattle studios was in 2015, for a live Studio Session with the Bad Plus.  He's coming to Tacoma to perform with the University of Puget Sound Jazz Band on Wednesday night, and he recently took a few minutes to catch us up.

Cliff Colon of Contraband
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Following by ten years his original Contraband project, tenor sax player Cliff Colon has reformed the group to create more compelling modern jazz drawn from the melodies of late 80s video games. Whatever that looks like on paper to you, in practice Contraband Reloaded sounds like a genius.

Brent Jensen in the KNKX Studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Alto and soprano sax player Brent Jensen says no matter which horn he plays, people often tell him he sounds like Paul Desmond. That's a high compliment indeed, but live in the KNKX studios Jensen showed he's no imitator.

You've probably heard Brent Jensen playing around the Northwest, or from his hit debut album on Seattle's Origin Records, The Sound of a Dry Martini: Remembering Paul Desmond from 2002. But he's only just recently moved to the Puget Sound region about a year ago and says he loves having access to so many amazing jazz musicians with whom he can share a stage.

Vicente Hansen performs in the KNKX studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Based in New York City and featuring two graduates of Seattle's legendary Roosevelt High School jazz program, the trio Mughal Muesli returned to the West Coast for a tour supporting their debut album Imperial Cereal. We're tracking down carpenters now because they nearly blew the roof off the place.

Live in our studios, Mughal Muesli performed three new compositions that ebbed and flowed with intense grooves, aggressive and muscular sax and bass, and exotic melodies that reflected their musical passions.

Camilo Estrada of The New Triumph
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

"It's not loud, it's more... dynamic" percussionist Ricardo Guity told our studio audience as The New Triumph prepared to launch into their soulful, rhythm-heavy live session. It wasn't loud, but it was passionate and dynamic.

Tiempo Libre's latest album, Panamericano (2015)
courtesy of the artists / Universal Music LLC

It's a brand new year, and opportunities to hear live Latin Jazz and related music abound in our region.  Listed here are some  upcoming shows you'll want to put on your calendar.  Click on the links for more information.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

A Seattle native who's been soaking in the energy of New York City for the past half dozen years, Jessica Lurie has released the first new album from her ensemble in nearly as long ago as her relocation. It was worth the wait.

Long Haul is a diverse collection of all the style that Lurie has shown since her youthful days in legendary Seattle groups The Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet and The Living Daylights. At times playful, frantic, mesmerizing, funky, mysterious and downright beautiful, Jessica Lurie is playing and composing as well as she ever has.

Ryan Leppich in the KNKX Studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Now in his second year at the University of Northern Colorado's highly regarded jazz program, drummer Ryan Leppich returned home to Puget Sound with a pair of college friends to play a few shows around town. We were lucky enough to host them for an energetic set of clever original songs live in the KNKX studios.

Recent graduate Tom Amend showed off his well-honed piano chops alongside talented bass player Seth Lewis, and they both seemed right at home in the pocket of rhythm provided by Leppich.

The New Cool: Jessica Lurie - Beyond Bicoastal

Dec 15, 2017
Jessica Lurie and her NW Ensemble live on KNKX
Parker Miles Blohm

Jessica Lurie is a Northwest jazz icon, though she's been based in New York City for the past few years. She has returned to Seattle to unveil her new album Long Haul, and it's clear that no matter where her musical travels take her, she will always have a home here.

Roy Hargrove practicing ‘The Seattle Vibe’ before the start of his live performance in the KNKX studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

He's known as one of the top trumpet players in jazz for the past quarter century, and returned to the KNKX studios with a fantastic new song for the city Roy says has always inspired him.

"The Seattle Vibe" was so new, his quintet hadn't heard it until they arrived in town for their stay at Jazz Alley. There wasn't much time to chat with the band before our live broadcast, Roy was guiding them through the soulful changes and groovy tempo of his latest song.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Seattle's 45th St Brass find plenty of funky fun in the tradition of New Orleans brass bands, but they also take the opportunity to stretch the possibilities of this classic lineup of horns and drums.

Led by the baritone sax of Peter Daniel, forming a tight rhythm section with Nelson Bell on tuba and D'Vonne Lewis (playing on half of the new album) drumming for this performance.

The trombones of Jason Cressey and David Marriott play with and against each other, and trumpeter Shawn Mickelson added a bright sharpness to their sound. 

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