The New Cool

Justin Steyer / KNKX

The Earshot Jazz Festival returns this weekend, and the fine folks at Earshot continue their tradition of presenting world class live jazz that stretches the definition of this music to its limits. In other words, fans of The New Cool have plenty to be excited about. It's a different kind of jazz festival, one or two amazing shows nearly every night for more than a month - your only excuse for missing a show is because it's sold out. That will happen, so get your tickets now!

The New Cool: Ben Allison, Bass Up Front

Sep 29, 2017
Photo: Courtesy Ben Allison

When you live in New York City, you don't need to travel much. The world comes to you, as it has for bassist Ben Allison, who's just released his 12th album as a leader, Layers of the City.

The New Cool: Beyond Jazz and Bluegrass

Sep 15, 2017
Michael Wilson / http://www.michaelwilson.pictures/

Brad Mehldau plays piano and Chris Thile plays mandolin and sings a bit. Their new album is self-titled and is a blend of jazz and free-flowing bluegrass, but it shouldn't be defined by either genre. Brad and Chris are simply making great music.

John Watson jazzcamera.co.uk

Manchester trio GoGo Penguin make their Seattle debut at the Triple Door on Tuesday September 12.  I recently spoke with the band's bass player Nick Blacka.

The New Cool: Polyrhythmics Erupting Again

Aug 25, 2017
Seattle funk-soul-jazz group Polyrhythmics
Kelly Robbins Photo & Film

Their ambitious new double album Caldera comes out September 22nd, and Seattle's Polyrhythmics begin a West Coast tour shortly after which is sure to cement their reputation as one of the country's most efficient blenders of jazz, soul, funk, psychedelic rock and afro-beat.

The New Cool: Modern Voice of Gretchen Parlato

Aug 18, 2017
Modern jazz singer Gretchen Parlato.
Jeaneen Lund, used with permission of the artist.

After more than a dozen years in the heart of the jazz world in New York City, Gretchen Parlato has become one of the most mesmerizing voices in modern jazz. And in a time when modern jazz singers seem to have at least one foot in soul and r&b, Parlato is blazing her own trail.

The New Cool: Fresh Grooves Triumph in Seattle

Aug 11, 2017
Seattle band The New Triumph.
Courtesy of The New Triumph.

The New Triumph has released their 2nd album Keep On Push'n, but their official CD release party is Friday night, August 11th at the Pono Ranch in Ballard.

The New Cool: Singer Meets Drummer, Revisited

Aug 4, 2017
Zara McFarlane sings on Later with Jools Holland in 2014
Rex Features via AP Images

As the modern jazz scene continues to bloom in England, a powerful young singer is gaining greater attention. With a recent cover of a classic Abbey Lincoln collaboration with Max Roach, she should be catching the ears of vintage jazz fans as well.

The New Cool: Jazz in Rock Clubs

Jul 28, 2017
Live at Nectar Lounge with Living Daylights and Skerik
Abe Beeson

In my formative years, catching live music around Seattle was a lot more beer-and-cigarettes than coffee beans-and-iPhones. It wasn’t just the heavy rock tagged as “grunge”, either – clubs in Seattle also offered some of the best jazz in town.

Japanese DJ and pianist Jazztronik aka Ryota Nozaki
Used with kind permission of the artist: jazztronik.com

Many jazz fans are still suspicious of electronic music.  It seems like child's play that doesn't require the hard work and years of dues paying that typifies the life of a jazz musician. Working as Jazztronik, Tokyo's Ryota Nozaki has been challenging that stereotype of the "nu-jazz" DJ for nearly two decades.

The New Cool: Live At The Locks Monday

Jun 30, 2017
Industrial Revelation live in the KNKX studios.
Justin Steyer / KNKX

The country celebrates Independence Day on Tuesday, and seeing as jazz is a music based on freedom, why not celebrate jazz with KNKX a day early at our Jazz On A Summer's Day party at the Hiram M. Chittenden (Ballard) Locks Monday afternoon.

Zem Audu in the recording studio.
Courtesy Zem Audu at zemaudu.com

KNKX is excited to debut a pair of new releases from talented musicians with international backgrounds on The New Cool this week, both released on Seattle's Origin Records. Along with modern music like electronica, hip hop, rock and soul, modern jazz is finding a world of inspiration and influence in traditional folk music from around the globe.

The New Cool: Barrett Martin Gets Busy

Jun 16, 2017
Charles Peterson

He may call himself a "rock musician by profession", but drummer, songwriter, bandleader, record label owner and producer Barrett Martin might more accurately be called a musician/student. His drive to learn about music has taken him all over the U.S. and around the world, and is evident in the five albums released as the Barrett Martin Group.

Marc Ressang

You might imagine Doc Cheatham raising his eyebrows at the sounds of his grandson's music. Trumpeter Theo Croker was inspired to play by watching his famous trumpeter and band leader grandpa, but his young career has been driven by musical exploration.

Raised in Florida, Croker began to attract attention as a trumpeter in his teens, which led to being doggedly recruited by jazz legend Donald Byrd to study in the jazz program at Oberlin College.

The New Cool: Mark Guiliana, Drummer Up Front

May 26, 2017
Deneka Peniston

When a friend recently told me that drummer Mark Guiliana is not just swinging through the Northwest with saxman Donny McCaslin's group next month, he's also bringing his own band to town this fall, it was juicy news indeed.

Guiliana is one of the most beloved drummers in modern jazz, or as the New York Times wrote, he's "a drummer around whom a cult of admiration has formed."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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