School Of Jazz

The Northwest jazz scene is enhanced by some of the finest high school bands in the country, including Garfield and Roosevelt who are perennial finalists in the national Essentially Ellington Competition. Jazz has a tradition of teaching, learning and sharing and for KNKX, jazz education and performance is vital to the music’s future.

School Of Jazz sponsors include, Integrative Family Law, BECU, Beacon Plumbing and Half Price Books

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.

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?

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. 

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. 

Molly Gillespie

Harrison Hannon is 21 years old and a senior at South Puget Sound Community College.  He plays drums in the jazz band. 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The Glacier Peak High School Jazz Band director Tad Morris has raised some talented musicians under his care, with a largely senior class combo well-equipped with skills and a deep understanding of the importance of jazz.

Asked what this music means to them, bassist Alex Sturlaugson talked about how jazz transcends race, religion and politics and connects us on a deep level. Then there was the music.

Edmonds-Woodway High School senior Brandt Fisher is our first guest student DJ of 2017.  He shares his hour of favorite jazz with Abe Beeson Thursday, January 5 from 8 to 9 p.m.

They're not the first all-female jazz band to perform in the knkx studios, but after hearing the teens from Seattle JazzEd, it's about time it stops feeling like a special occasion.

Featuring their mentor Susan Pascal on vibes, the ladies thrilled our packed studio audience with jazz, soul, and a song by the modern jazz outfit Snarky Puppy, and made us forget about girls vs. boys.

Ninth grader P.J. Colino, who plays alto sax and clarinet in the Seattle Academy Jazz Ensemble, is our guest student DJ for December.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Mercer Island High School has a remarkable jazz orchestra, so we were very much looking forward to this live distillation of that band—the Mercer Island Jazz Combo.  You’ll hear the students on saxophone, trombone, bass, drums and piano.  Their mentor, Thomas Marriott is the featured trumpet player.  This live KNKX Studio Session is hosted by our own Mary McCann. Hit ‘play.’

Meet 16-year-old Dakota Huffman, who hails from Maple Valley and plays in the Tahoma High School jazz band. 

Abe Beeson / knkx

Fourteen-year-old Emma Usui-Villareal is our very first middle school student DJ, and she already possesses a very discerning jazz sensibility.  Emma plays drums in the Eckstein Middle School jazz band. 

Parker Miles Blohm / knkx

Named for their practice room at Pacific Lutheran University, 322 brought 4 of their 5 band members to the knkx studios for an afternoon of cool tunes they wrote themselves. Drawing on their jazz education in standards to the wide variety of music available to college kids, the band clearly finds as much inspiration from modern rock 'n' soul as they do the Great American Songbook.

Note: Each month, knkx invites a teen guest DJ to play his or her favorite pieces on the air. The program is part of knkx's School of Jazz.

Dimitrio Nero from Mountlake Terrace High School is the Student DJ for the month of September. Dimitrio's hour aired from 8 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 8.

To get to know him better, we asked Dimitrio to answer a few questions about jazz:

Which instrument do you play and why?

Note: Each month, KPLU invites a teen guest DJ to play his or her favorite pieces on the air. The program is part of KPLU's School of Jazz.

Brad Bjorn from Tahoma High School is the Student DJ for the month of August. Brad's hour aired from 8 to 9 p.m. on August 4th.

To get to know him better, we asked Brad to answer a few questions about jazz:

Which instrument do you play and why?

Puget Sound Community School is a private school with just 53 students.  So the school’s excellent jazz studies program only has a few participants.  So few, in fact, that the instructors often have to serve as performers, just to round things out. 

Note: Each month, KPLU invites a teen guest DJ to play his or her favorite pieces on the air. The program is part of KPLU's School of Jazz.

Anton Bingham from Shorecrest High School is the Student DJ for the month of July. Anton's hour aired from 8 to 9 p.m. on July 7.

To get to know him better, we asked Anton to answer a few questions about jazz:

Which instrument do you play and why?

The all-stars from the Mountlake Terrace High School jazz band were well-prepared for their live session in the KPLU studios, so well prepared, in fact, that their mentor, Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra saxophonist Travis Ranney, said all he had to do was show up.

Swinging through a pair of standards, the septet of kids also brought an arrangement of the very cool modern jazz tune, “Tall & Lanky” by Jeff Coffin to show off their own two-sax and a trombone front line.

Note: Each month, KPLU invites a teen guest DJ to play his or her favorite pieces on the air. The program is part of KPLU's School of Jazz.

Rose Reed from Kent-Meridian High School is the Student DJ for the month of June. Rose's hour aired from 8 to 9 p.m. on June 2.

To get to know her better, we asked Rose to answer a few questions about jazz:

Which instrument do you play and why?

When this Central Washington University combo made the trip from Ellensburg to the 88.5 F-M performance studio, it was a first.  For us, anyway.  The group is the first Eastern Washington jazz band we’ve hosted, and we hope it’s the first of many to come. 

Of course, it didn’t hurt their cause when they enlisted their mentor, trumpeter Thomas Marriott, to join the festivities.  Check it out—three delightful arrangements from a group of young musicians on their way up.

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