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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 Brad Bjorn: Jazz Is Complex Music That Influences Emotion

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?

I play mainly the alto saxophone, but also the soprano and tenor saxophone, because I watched my dad play those instruments as a kid and always wanted to play them just like he did. So I started playing in 6th grade and ever since then, I’ve been a very successful musician

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

My favorite jazz piece is “So What” by Miles Davis in the Kind of Blue album because it has three of the most iconic jazz musicians ever, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Cannonball Adderley, playing together. Also, because this song is a prime example that a jazz solo can be very simple and yet, sound so good.

Who’s your jazz hero and why?

My jazz hero is Charlie Parker because he’s the alto saxophone icon that I strive to be like, in terms of the musician that he was. He was able to master his instrument in every way imaginable, and could play any style of jazz with ease. Considering he only lived to be 34 years of age and is talked about as the greatest alto saxophone of all time gives me very good reason to call him my hero.

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

Jazz is a style of music that has much more depth than any other genre. It can be straight, swing, latin, funk, be-bop, etc. I think jazz is a more complex form of music that speaks differently than others. It can influence emotions in ways that some of the most popular songs today cannot. And unfortunately, it’s also one of the most underrated genres of music. But lucky for me, I’ve been able to grow a love for jazz that I believe will last forever.

Brad's Playlist:

  1. "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" Art Pepper - Meets the Rhythm Section
  2. "So What" Miles Davis - Kind of Blue
  3. "Autumn Leaves" Wynton Marsalis - Marsalis Standard Time Vol 1
  4. "Confirmation" Charlie Parker - Compact Jazz
  5. "Misty" Bob Brookmeyer/Stan Getz - Bob Brookmeyer and Friends
  6. "Love For Sale" Cannonball Adderley - Somethin' Else
  7. "Hide and Seek" Joshua Redman - Freedom in the Groove
  8. "La Vie En Rose" Louis Armstrong - All Time Greatest Hits
  9. "Nancy (with the Laughing Face)" John Coltrane - Ballads
  10. "Red Pepper Blues" Art Pepper - Meets the Rhythm Section