Live Studio Sessions | KNKX

Live Studio Sessions

When Anat Cohen returned to the KPLU studios this spring, the bright young star of the clarinet was joined by a piano great who’s been looking back on a fantastic career. Live in our studios, the two friends were intently focused on the moment at hand.

The pair talked about their shared love of New York City, where they both live and play, and about the intimacy of the duet setting. Fred also shared his thoughts on the new documentary "The Ballad Of Fred Hersch," and his own upcoming memoir, "Good Things Happen Slowly."

Parker Miles Blohm / KPLU

At a certain point in her not-too-distant past, Seattle’s Eugenie Jones decided she needed to give herself a challenge, something to make her feel more alive.  She decided to try her hand at jazz singing.  It worked out.  

In 2013, Eugenie won the Earshot Jazz Society award for best recording of the year with her debut CD, "Black Lace, Blue Tears".  Her second CD, "Come Out Swingin’," nabbed her the Earshot award for best vocal recording of the year.  So, how did she do it?  Listen to this live studio session and find out.

Eugenie Jones - vocals

Michael Goude

In his third visit to the KNKX studios, Christian McBride’s recent trio album "Live at the Village Vanguard" had just earned him a Grammy for best improvised jazz solo, and let us in on the little-known fact that 99 percent of the big awards that night are awarded well before the national telecast, and that he never gets tired of the red carpet.

The funk-jazz trio, McTuff did their first KPLU live studio session at 12:15 on an otherwise ordinary afternoon in 2015.  Before the performance, McTuff’s leader and organist, Joe Doria, asked if they should "tone things down" since it was early in the day.  We said they should follow their collective muse.  They did, and they rocked the house.  

A year later they came back and did it all over again — only different.  Here it is.

Joe Doria—organ

D’vonne Lewis—drums

Andy Coe—guitar

Back it 2012, pianist Cyrus Chestnut came to KPLU and treated us to a live, solo piano studio session and a delightfully lively conversation.  Recently, he did it again, only differently.  Different songs and different stories with the same result as his earlier visit—a good time was had by all. 

You’ll love all the songs and we think you’ll particularly like the story about the 9-year-old Cyrus begging his mom to buy him a Thelonious Monk album at Woolworth’s and then taking it to school for show and tell.

Jazz pianist, composer and political activist Abdullah Ibrahim is a true citizen of the world.  He was born and raised in South Africa and has since lived in many countries, spreading the messages of music and freedom wherever he is. 

In this rare and wonderful live studio session, Abdullah treats us to solo piano performances of three of his many compositions as well as a wide-ranging and open-hearted conversation with KPLU/Jazz24 host, Mary McCann.

Parker Miles Blohm / KPLU

Cory Weeds is a key member of the Vancouver B.C. jazz scene. The longtime owner of the Cellar jazz club is now focused on live jazz all around the city, including the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival (June 24 through July 3).

He's also one of Vancouver's top sax players. His latest album, "This Happy Madness," features the trio of all-star drummer Jeff Hamilton, and shows Cory at the top of his game.

Parker Miles Blohm

The first Ballard Jazz Festival took place in 2003.  The most recent Ballard Jazz Festival (the fourteenth annual) took place this past May.  In the intervening years the festival has grown, continued to get better and better and is now internationally known.

Few singers can match the sheer emotional power of Janiva Magness's voice. Over a 30-year career she has gradually found her own songwriting voice as well. 

“The voice is something that allows us to communicate past the limitations of the left brain,” Magness says. “It’s the primary instrument, the first instrument … and more than that, too. The voice has the power to link all the parts of ourselves—the brain, the heart, and even the spirit and the soul. That’s why the ability to sing is a gift, and I love nothing more than sharing it.”

Parker Miles Blohm / KPLU

Two-time Grammy nominee Jane Monheit returned to our studios for another exclusive session this spring, hot on the heels of her latest album, a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald's legendary recordings of the Great American Songbook.

Monheit is no stranger to these timeless standards, as she reminds us with gorgeous, intimate performances of classics by Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, and the Gershwins - with her longtime musical partner Michael Kanan her only accompaniment at the piano.

Jacqueline Tabor: The Lady In The Gown

May 6, 2016
Parker Miles Blohm / KPLU

Northwest vocalist Jacqueline Tabor discovered jazz when she was a kid watching old movies on TV.  She dug the black-and-white films noir that featured beautiful women in gowns singing jazz in dark, smoky nightclubs—she wanted to grow up to do that.  And, whaddaya know?  She’s now a lovely woman in a gown singing jazz from here to Japan.  

The nightclubs aren’t as smoky as they once were, but here she is, living her childhood dream—and doing it with a terrific band (see credits).  Together, they’ll treat you to three lovely pieces of music and a few good stories.

In the Puget Sound area, many may see Seattle as the hub of the regional jazz community, but Tacoma, just about 30 miles down I-5 has an extremely happening scene, as well. 

Take the band, Velocity—these guys get up on their back legs and howl. Their music is jazz rooted in funk and fusion and they can definitely throw down some killer grooves.  And they’re always challenging themselves.

Parker Miles Blohm / KPLU

When trumpeter Terell Stafford was nearing the completion of his classical trumpet studies in college, he was also developing an interest in jazz.  Since jazz was frowned upon by his classical mentors, Terell had to meet covertly with the school’s jazz studies professor, pianist Kenny Barron.  Barron agreed to help Stafford, but only if they could keep it a secret from the classical professor.  So Terell began going to jam sessions.  

One night — well, no, we’ll stop here.  Terell tells the story much better in this performance/interview with KPLU’s Abe Beeson.  

Parker Miles Blohm / KPLU

All the members of this U.S. Navy Sextet agree that serving their country by playing jazz is a pretty sweet gig. 

Heck, yes!  Unlike most young jazz musicians, they have steady work, decent pay, job security and great benefits.  And do they ever have fun.

Other military jazz bands that we’ve hosted seem to gravitate to music from the golden age of jazz—the ‘modern jazz’ of the late 50s through mid-60s—guided by the greats: artists like Miles, Coltrane and Bill Evans. 

Parker Miles Blohm

For 15 years, The Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra has been a mainstay of the Northwest jazz scene, and ever since KPLU has been doing studio sessions in our Seattle studios, we’ve wanted to have them come in and play live for you.  One problem:  our studio isn’t big enough for the entire orchestra. 

Parker Miles Blohm

Trumpeter Marcus Printup can really, really play.  He’s also really, really devoted to jazz education and mentorship, which is what brought him to the Northwest.  

Parker Miles Blohm / KPLU

It’s not every day that you come across a jazz trio consisting of a saxophonist, a bassist and a vocalist.  But that’s what we have with Anton Schwartz (sax), Chuck Deardorf (bass) and Inga Swearingen (vocals).  When this interesting configuration of musicians came to KPLU for a live studio session, we knew we were going to hear something new.  And indeed we did.

Parker Miles Blohm / KPLU

Generally, jazz musicians who devote themselves to avant-garde and free jazz begin by working in ‘straight-ahead’ groups and then begin experiment with music concepts that are more ‘outside’.  Not so with Seattle saxophonist, Jacob Zimmerman.  In this KPLU Studio Session, he tells host, Abe Beeson, that a teacher turned him on to avant garde musicians when Jacob was in 6th grade, so he cut his teeth on adventurous artists like Anthony Braxton. But is his new album ‘Record Ban’ avant-garde?  

Parker Miles Blohm / KPLU

Guitarist Lee Ritenour has been playing with pianist Dave Grusin on and off since he was a teenager in the 70s, Dave plays on much of Lee’s new album A Twist Of Rit, but they haven’t played much in a duet setting.

Parker Miles Blohm

Tenor saxophonist, Kareem Kandi, has been a lynchpin of northwest jazz for 20 years, and when it comes to be-bop, he’s the real deal.  His classic tone (think Dexter Gordon and Pete Christlieb) and straight-ahead approach lays the music on the line.  Kareem plays with different groups in different instrumental configurations but when he came in for his first KPLU studio session, it was just Kareem on tenor sax, DeVonne Lewis on drums and Delvon Lamarr tearin’ it up on the Hammond B-3 organ.  Want a be-bop smack-down?  Here it is.

In 2003, Seattle jazz singer, Stephanie Porter released her debut CD, Mood Swings.  The CD presented Stephanie’s unmistakable voice, singing a selection of excellent songs from The Great American Songbook (like, Cheek To Cheek, Get Out Of Town and Misty). Her second CD, How Deep Is The Ocean, released in 2010, showed the world that she had grown tremendously as a singer and, here again, the songs on the disc were wonderfully-done standards.

Klem Daniels / KPLU

Drummer Ryan Leppich has graduated Mountlake Terrace HS and is preparing to go off to college.  However, while at MTHS, he formed a jazz quintet consisting of some of his school band mates as well as fine players from other high school jazz programs in the area.  

3 of the 5 are graduating, so we were fortunate to get them into the KPLU performance studio before they went their separate ways.   In this session they take on some pretty complex jazz compositions and they do with an ease that belies their years.  Dig in.

Aaron Hushagen

A couple of years ago jazz/blues singer Catherine Russell made a stop at KPLU for a live studio session that was amazing.  So when she made time to drop in again recently, we were thrilled.

When it comes to singing, it seems there’s nothing she can’t do, but one of the things we love most about her is her ability to breathe new, vibrant life into old, sometimes almost forgotten songs.  In this session she takes songs from the past and plops them right into the 21st century, reminding us that great music never dies.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

In this KPLU studio session, the US Army salutes jazz, with the 56th Army Jazz Band from Joint Base Lewis/McCord.  

Hosted by Abe Beeson, this sextet of talented troops gives us two original compositions by members of the band (Ego and Fifteen Day Dream) and a delightfully sneaky rearrangement of Miles Davis’ So What.   Abe and the guys also talk about what a sweet gig it is to serve their country by playing music that they love.

Aaron Hushagen / KPLU

The Bad Plus is one of the most in-demand trios in jazz.  Joshua Redman is one of the most in-demand saxophonists.  When the trio and the saxophonist joined forces to become The Bad Plus Joshua Redman, the star-power threatened to be blinding, so when they came to KPLU for a live session, we all had sunglasses near at hand.

Aaron Hushagen / KPLU

As we welcomed Lynnwood’s Meadowdale High School Jazz Combo into the KPLU live performance studio, they looked like normal, hard-working music students.  When they started to play, however, it was soon clear to us that we were hearing a band that was a cut above.  

Along with their mentor, trumpeter Michael Van Bebber, the combo nailed each of the 3 songs they performed.  If you have doubts about whether or not high school students can really play jazz, listen to this session.  Your doubts will disappear.  Out thanks to the band for such a fine performance and kudos to the band’s director, Jeff Horenstein.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

The first time we met pianist Justin Kauflin he was in Seattle as part of the Seattle International Film Festival, which was showing a documentary about the friendship between the young Justin and veteran jazz trumpeter Clark Terry.

The movie is called Keep On Keepin’ On and if you haven’t seen it, you’re missing a lovely story. Mr. Terry has since passed on but Justin is still very much with us (he’s only 29, after all) and growing by leaps and bounds as a musician.

Aaron Hushagen / KPLU

When trumpeter Lance Buller takes the stage, the audience knows it’s in for a good time.  He’s serious about his music but he’s also serious about making sure his listeners have fun.  Put another way:  he’s a terrific jazz trumpeter but he’s also an entertainer.  

Lance’s latest show is a tribute to his 3 greatest influences.  It’s called The 3 Louis—Louis Armstrong, Louis Jordan & Louis Prima.  We invited Lance and The Roadstars into the KPLU performance studio to give us a preview of the new show.  As we expected, good times ensued.  Enjoy!

Justin Steyer / KPLU

The Interlake High School Jazz Combo is doing it right.  They’ve got chops, poise and the ability to select and arrange great material.  

Of course, some of that ability to select and arrange might—just might—be aided and abetted by the band’s director, Paul Gillespie, and/or their mentor, jazz trumpeter, Thomas Marriott.  

In this studio session, the band (with Marriott sitting in) performed three songs:  This Is For Albert (by Wayne Shorter), Stoner Hill (by Brian Blade) and Sonny Rollin’s classic, Doxy, here given an inventive treatment by the band.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

McTuff is a Seattle organ trio consisting of Joe Doria (Hammond B-3 organ), Andy Coe (guitar) and Tarik Abouzeid (drums).  

The band breaks through the constraints of genre expectations and reaches a wide range of music lovers.  They can play for an audience of jazz purists who just want to listen to the music or they can play for an audience of people who just want to dance.  And they do that by being exactly who they are:  three inventive musicians who don’t mind bringin’ on the funk.

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