Seattle native Kassa Overall came up drumming in the celebrated Garfield High School jazz band, but he's always been exploring the action behind the scenes in music.
Early opportunities with samplers and keyboards led Overall to a passion for not just making music, but producing music for himself and others. Settling in New York about a decade ago, he's been busy in both rolls, and then some.
Kassa Overall found employment and educational opportunities with brilliant pianist Geri Allen's band, with whom he still plays and learns. He's also been making inroads in hip hop, collaborating with innovative rap group Das Racist and others in and around New York City.
Back in Seattle with a pair of our city's finest (Tim Kennedy on keys and Evan Flory-Barnes at the bass) Overall brought his friend, the wonderful young trumpeter Theo Croker, to the KNKX studios. He produced Croker's recent hit album of jazz powered by modern beats Escape Velocity, also providing his own live and programmed drums.
Live on 88.5, this group of modern talents celebrated a jazz giant who still inspires jazz musicians today, bringing new life to John Coltrane's classic melodies "Naima" and "A Love Supreme". Trane's music has been finding new cache in the recent resurgence of "spiritual jazz" spearheaded by Kamasi Washington and others.
A bit of programmed beats and Overall's own spoken vocals on "Unconditional Love" (from the Geri Allen songbook) showed off a deft skill for vocalizing while drumming. It made me think that all rappers should have jazz training to understand better how to be part of the song rather than simply rapping backed by music.
Kassa was excited to talk about his own debut album, which has been in the works for several years and is nearing completion. "Let's just say it's coming soon, that's non-committal enough," he told us.
As the fusion of jazz and modern electronics continues to evolve, I'm excited to hear that Kassa Overall's many projects are under way. This studio session was a fine example of the future of jazz - really, the future of modern music.