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Since 2005, KNKX's School of Jazz has provided mentorship, learning and performance opportunities to Western Washington middle school, high school and college jazz students. A cornerstone of the station's signature community outreach program, it has directly impacted thousands of jazz students, band directors and professional musicians. School of Jazz is sponsored by BECU.

Guest Student DJ Margaux Bouchegnies: 'Through Jazz We Tell A Story'

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.

Puget Sound Community School's Margaux Bouchegnies is the Student DJ for the month of March.  Margaux's hour will air from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on March 5.  

To get to know her better we asked 15 year old Margaux to answer a few questions about jazz:

Which instrument do you play and why?

I play the upright bass! I play it because I am absolutely in love with the types of sounds that can be produced with it. The sound of the bass is so rich and full, I could listen to and play it forever.

Having no frets allows for a wide range of ways to play, and because it is an acoustic instrument it produces a very real, raw sound that I love. One of my favorite things is playing up really high and then resolving to one of the deep low notes... very satisfying!

Since the bass is usually a part of the rhythm section, it has an enormous amount of control regarding the feel of the song. I really enjoy having the option to change things up or keep things interesting by altering how I play. Overall, I play it because I love the instrument and the music I can make with it.

What’s your all-time favorite jazz piece and why?

I haven't found my "all-time favorite" jazz piece yet, but one that I am really enjoying right now is "Caravan" by Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach from the album "Money Jungle." I love how it starts out very sporadic with the drums hitting the toms and the bass plucking a couple dissonant high notes. Then, after a little bit, Ellington comes in with a huge long chord. They vamp on this eerie feel for a little while, each playing their own thing but somehow locking in and making it work really well.

Then, Mingus jumps into walking and Roach hits the ride while Ellington jams out on some bluesy chords. I love this piece because it doesn't feel clean or polished. Don't get me wrong, those types of pieces can be really nice, but this rendition of "Caravan" has a kind of personal intensity to it.

I feel like I am in a room with the trio, watching them play. 

Who’s your jazz hero and why?

I have two jazz heros! Ray Brown, and Esperanza Spalding.

Ray Brown is absolutely amazing: whenever the bass really stands out to me in a song and I ask who it is, the answer is always Ray Brown. I love the notes he plays with and techniques he chooses to use.

My other hero is Esperanza Spalding. She particularly inspires me because she is a woman. There aren’t that many female upright bassists, let a lone famous ones. It is encouraging for me to see Esperanza, a woman who is extremely talented and also appreciated. I love all of her music: I always want to either analyze it or have a dance party to it. 

What is jazz, exactly? How would you explain it?

This is quite a loaded question with a multitude of answers to it.

I feel that jazz is subjective to every person -- it's really whatever you want it to be. For me, I feel that jazz is spiritual (not meaning religious) and also an honest language.

I think those two things really go hand in hand. I mean, playing music is another form of communication. Through jazz we tell story. The nonverbal way we convey our message is where the spiritual part comes in. How we express our words is through sound and intonation, without the words, there is solely the expression of who we are and what we are trying to say. It is our true self, our spirit that is doing all the talking.

I feel that through jazz (while improvising especially), it is impossible to be dishonest. It's easy when you can twist words, but I don't believe you can fake expression when it is the only thing you are relying on. Even if you know all there is to know about music theory, it is impossible to fabricate feeling. 

Margaux's Playlist:

  1. "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Cocorvado)"  (The Oscar Peterson Trio)
  2. "Blue Monk" (Ray Brown, John Clayton and Christian McBride)
  3. "Giant Steps" (John Coltrane)
  4. "Take Five - Live 1977 Version" (Al Jarreau)
  5. "Bossa Nova U.S.A." (Dave Brubeck)
  6. "Buggy Ride" (Wynton Marsalis Septet)
  7. "Caravan" (Duke Ellington, Max Roach and Charles Mingus)
  8. "My Funny Valentine" (Chet Baker)
  9. "Milestones" (Miles Davis)
  10. "Junjo" (Esperanza Spalding)
  11. "Feeling of Jazz" (Dianne Reeves and Wynton Marsalis)

Connect with Margaux online: Twitter / SoundCloud