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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 Dimitrio Neri: Jazz Is Organic And Spontaneous

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?

I play jazz piano. I chose the piano because I've always enjoyed listening to piano, even before I began playing music in a band class. As I continued to take private lessons, playing the instrument became a passion to me. When I play piano, I have a sense of both control and relaxation that I don’t get doing anything else. I still greatly enjoy playing jazz piano alone and in different group settings, such as in combos and in my high school big band.

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

It's difficult for me to say my all-time favorite jazz song or recording because there is such a massive repertoire of great jazz compositions and many different arrangements and recordings of those compositions. However, if I were to choose one certain jazz piece, it would have to be "Too Close for Comfort", specifically the recording of The Oscar Peterson Trio on the album, "Another Day." I chose this recording because I really liked what Oscar Peterson did with the arrangement, in that he made just a trio sound like a whole big band which was really cool. I also really enjoyed his solos and interactions between the rest of the trio.

Who’s your jazz hero and why?

I would say one of my all-time heroes is Oscar Peterson. Oscar Peterson is a master jazz piano player that I have been listening to since I began playing jazz. He is a hero of mine because of his great talents as a soloist, composer, and arranger. Every time I listen to him play I am inspired and moved to play more and to aim for higher achievements. I aspire to play to his level and to play like him to an extent, because I greatly enjoy his style and nuances in his playing.

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

Jazz to me is not just a genre of music, but is more a form of improvisation that can be played to express the player's emotion through their technical and musical skill. I feel that jazz is a very organic and spontaneous form of music that cannot be replicated. Jazz is unlike any other form of music because it is almost like a universal language, where anybody can play with a group of people and completely understand each other through the music that they create together. That's why I love jazz.

Dimitrio's Playlist:

  1. “BODY AND SOUL” ERROLL GARNER (Body and Soul)
  2. “ZOG’S JOG” JAMES MORRISON (Snappy Too)
  3. “LA VIE EN ROSE” LOUIS ARMSTRONG (All Time Greatest Hits)
  4. “MILESTONES” MILES DAVIS (Milestones)
  5. “SPAIN” CHICK COREA – RETURN TO FOREVER (Light as a Feather)
  6. “INCEPTION” McCOY TYNER (Inception)
  8. “SHINY STOCKINGS” COUNT BASIE (Timeless: Count Basie)
  9. “NAIMA” MICHAEL BRECKER (H.Hancock’s: Directions in Music)