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The New Cool: A Variety of Cool in the KNKX Studios

Parker Miles Blohm
Brad Shepik heats up the KNKX studios this Summer.

You may have noticed many more of our exclusive KNKX studio session performances mixed into our jazz in recent weeks. The New Cool is also committed to the art of live performance, and on this week's show we’ll hear four fantastic 88.5 studio session recordings from a wide variety of modern jazz styles.

First up is a look back at this year’s Ballard Jazz Festival with a trio we called the Ballard Jazz Fest All-Stars. Guitarist Brad Shepik, raised on jazz in the Seattle area before moving to New York in the early 90s, returned for the festival and this cool set with one of our area’s most in-demand rhythm sections, bassist Phil Sparks and drummer Matt Jorgensen.

The three were fully engaged, playing three of Shepik’s mesmerizing compositions, including “Temoin” which you’ll hear on the show today. It was a fun prelude to the Ballard Jazz Walk that night, a peek into the incredible Northwest talent on display at this festival each year. We’re already excited for 2018!

As their name implies, the trio disORGANized is centered around the Hammond Organ of Delvon Lamarr. Formed to host regular monthly shows at the Belltown jazz club Tula’s with guitarist Cole Schuster and drummer Alec Gayton, they honor the long tradition of organ/guitar/drums attracting regular crowds of hip cats looking for a cool time.

Not to be confused with Lamarr’s DLO3, this is a more soulful and melodic, less funky OGD combo. The disORGANized trio brought the club vibe to 88.5fm, without the cover charge.

Next is an unusual studio session from about a year ago featuring the young man I call the “Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele”. Jake Shimabukuro takes the tourist-charming instrument to amazing new heights, and brought young bass player Nolan Verner along to capture the sound of his latest trio release, The Nashville Sessions.

Traditional Hawaiian folk music blended with jazz improvisation went even further with Jake’s recreation of a modern classical piece he performed with the Hawaii Symphony by composer Dr. Byron Yasui, “Tritone” derived from the “Concerto for Ukulele”.

The symphonic piece focused on two of the most dissonant intervals in music, and the sound of Jake’s version is like hearing a genius unravel a complex math problem, but much cooler.

Just last Tuesday night at Nectar in Fremont, I once again thrilled to the musical commotion of Seattle’s Happy Orchestra, led by drummer Tarik Abouzied. The long-awaited debut album was released less than a month ago, and we’re giving away 5 copies on The New Cool Facebook page this week!

Built upon a non-stop tornado of rhythm, Abouzied’s all-star group features sweaty, grooving melodies that move your booty. Excellent solos come from guitarist R.L. Heyer, punchy horn lines feature Thomas Marriott and Stuart McDonald on trumpet & sax, and the bass & keys combo of Damien Erskine and Tim Kennedy lay down the musical dance floor.

I recall our studio audience moving in their chairs more than usual on this day, and Happy Orchestra’s live session version of “Baba” (written for Abouzied’s convertible-driving father) will put a smile on your face and a groove in your boots.

You’ll find more incredible studio sessions at, including amazing exclusives from New Cool favorites The Bad Plus, GoGo Penguin, The Barrett Martin Group, Polyrhythmics, Donny McCaslin and many more. We’re already planning for modern jazz sessions in the weeks ahead and into 2018 with The New Triumph, Contraband, and Jessica Lurie. Stay tuned, and pass it on!

The New Cool airs Saturdays from 3 to 5 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Wash.

Music Live Studio SessionsThe New Cool