The New Cool | KNKX

The New Cool

The New Cool: Snarky Puppy Charms Seattle

Mar 2, 2018
Photo by Freudian Slurp guitarist Ian Hughes.

The entry to Seattle's Moore Theater is surrounded by scaffolding as the old building's facelift continues, inside the hall Snarky Puppy was doing a bit of construction of their own. They're building a new kind of instrumental music, and they've already built a fan base who love what they hear.

The New Cool: Lance Ferguson's Hopeful Menagerie

Feb 23, 2018
Used with kind permission of the artist. @_lanceferguson_

Influenced by the vast history of jazz, and in particular the cosmic, spiritual music of the 70s featured on record labels like Strata-East and Oakland's Black Jazz Records, the new album from multi-instrumentalist and producer Lance Ferguson's Menagerie will fit comfortably in your record collection alongside new releases from Kamasi Washington and Snarky Puppy as well as classics from Pharoah Sanders and late-career John Coltrane.

The New Cool: MAST Takes Monk to Space

Feb 16, 2018
Hand painted by Tokio Aoyama.

Multi-instrumentalist Tim Conley, performing as MAST, has just released a new collection of Thelonious Monk tunes. "Another one?" I hear you saying. Well, this collection of Monk tunes, simply titled Thelonious Sphere Monk, takes the jazz giant's music to wild electronic destinations. Thankfully, to a Monk fan like me, it really works.

The New Cool: Jazzlandia in Portland

Feb 9, 2018
Used with kind permission of the artist.

The 15th Portland Jazz Festival begins February 15th, running through the 25th with big names like Abdullah Ibrahim, Regina Carter, Kurt Elling, Marcus Roberts and Dr. Lonnie Smith. On this week's New Cool show, we'll highlight a few of the modern jazz shows in Portland at this year's festival.

Seattle's Bad News Botanists.
Photo by Shahaan Smith

The landscape of talented jazz musicians in the Pacific Northwest continues to bloom, despite an especially wet January threatening to wash us all away. Take a look at the nominees for this year’s Earshot Golden Ear Awards and you’ll see the name Bad News Botanists and those of two band members, a solid indication that this band’s time has come.

The New Cool: Kraken Quartet Keeps the Beats

Jan 19, 2018
Evan Monroe Chapman/Four/Ten Media

The four drummers of The Kraken Quartet studied their instruments together at Ithaca College, but few expected the rhythm section to evolve into their own band. Now based in Austin, Texas, their 2017 debut release Separate / Migrate is bringing the four well-deserved attention.

The New Cool: A Saxman Raises His Voice

Jan 12, 2018
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

When I first met Braxton Cook, he was playing saxophone with the amazing trumpeter Christian Scott's band, live in our studios in the Fall of 2015. There was something intangible I noticed, maybe just his gregarious personality, but I knew there was more to be heard from Mr. Cook. How much more is a pleasant surprise.

The New Cool: Favorites of 2017

Jan 5, 2018
Abe Beeson

I'm not crazy about "best of" lists. Who could possibly listen to enough music to produce an objective list of the best recordings in a year? I prefer to list "favorites", and on this week's New Cool, you'll hear two hours of Abe Beeson's favorite modern jazz from 2017. I hope you enjoy it as much as I will!

The New Cool: Happy New Cool Year!

Dec 29, 2017
Abe Beeson

Paul Carlson subs for Abe Beeson this week. You can preview the playlist here. Happy New Year, everyone!

Abe Beeson

Though each member of Industrial Revelation are in high demand these days, they always find time to get together to make music. As they prepared for their first headlining show at the Neptune Theatre last week, the band told me how excited they were to unleash new music in the new year.

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.

By kind permission of Hunter Gather.

Warm up your genre blender for Seattle's Hunter Gather. Described in various hyphenates as avant-jazz, post-rock, folk-jazz, and their own "post-sad-jazz-rock", this quartet draws musical inspiration from all over. These descriptors are fun to read, but they only begin to describe the creative exploration Hunter Gather undertakes on their new, debut album, Getting to Know You.

The New Cool: Cuban Jazz Meets American Pop

Dec 1, 2017
Eduardo Rawdriguez /

I'm always suspicious of collections of modern pop covers. The songs of today don't normally equal the quality of the Great American Songbook. But the collaborations on the new album AmeriCuba from the Havana Maestros bring fresh energy and explore unexpected opportunities for improvisation.

The New Cool: Meet England's Ezra Collective

Nov 24, 2017
Stephen Leigh/Funkyfeet Photography

The modern confluence of reggae, hip hop, electronic and afro-beat music seeps to the surface of jazz in the talented young English quintet Ezra Collective. You'll hear a song from their new release Juan Pablo: The Philosopher on their New Cool debut this Saturday afternoon on KNKX.

Parker Miles Blohm

You may have noticed many more of our exclusive KNKX studio session performances mixed into our jazz in recent weeks. The New Cool is also committed to the art of live performance, and on this week's show we’ll hear four fantastic 88.5 studio session recordings from a wide variety of modern jazz styles.

The New Cool: Return of the Brass

Nov 10, 2017
Peter Adams/45th St Brass

The brass band tradition goes back more than a century both in the United States and in the United Kingdom, and today both countries continue to produce outstanding brass funk that continues to up the ante for old school party music.

The New Cool: Celebrating One Year on KNKX

Nov 3, 2017
Make a note, keep all papers organized in a file cabinet for easy access.
Abe Beeson

Fifty-two shows in the books! The New Cool celebrates one year on the air at KNKX this week. The essence of jazz is to push creativity forward, and we've shared some of the coolest music influenced by today's sounds - hip hop, rock, electronic, soul, funk and folk music from around the world. Now we're ready for Year #2.

The New Cool: London's THUMB Catches a Break

Oct 20, 2017
Check out THUMB's music at
Abe Beeson

"I hope this email finds you well," is a phrase that rarely earns instant excitement. Thankfully, in the case of young London neo-jazz group THUMB, the payoff is cool jazz from across the ocean that you probably haven't heard before.

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 /

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

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:

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

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.