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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.

KNKX Student DJ Alli Wicklund

Fifteen year-old Alli Wicklund, who attends Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences, is KNKX's guest DJ on March 8th from 8-9 p.m.

Which instrument do you play and why?

Among the many instruments I play, I consider the tenor saxophone to be my main instrument. You don’t hear much about women tenor sax players or women jazz players in general, so it makes me feel strong and authoritative when I’m performing. It’s also creates such rich and deep tones.

What’s your all-time favorite jazz piece?

‘Birdland’ by Maynard Ferguson takes the cake for my all-time favorite jazz piece. Its bright and exciting first notes never fail to make me smile. Though I played a different arrangement of the piece, it was the first “real” jazz song I ever played on my tenor when I was in 8th grade. I hadn’t been playing the saxophone for very long, but the tune of ‘Birdland’ was always stuck in my head 24/7 from the first time I heard it, so playing it came easily. I would literally walk around school and force people to listen to it because I thought it was so amazing. ‘Birdland’ truly brings out the music geek inside me and taught me that jazz is even more fun when you love the song. I think that’s why ‘Birdland’ has really stuck with me and holds the top spot on my jazz playlist.

Who is your jazz hero?

I would have to say Melissa Aldana is my jazz hero. Not just because she is an amazing tenor saxophone player, but also because she is pretty much fearless in her playing and has become a master of her craft. The control she has over her sound is what I strive for in my own playing. Last year, I was one of two girls in my jazz band. Melissa’s strength and determination to play powerfully and without boundaries made me feel equally as powerful even though I was greatly outnumbered by guys in the band. Also, she was the first female instrumentalist to win the Thelonious Monk Competition, so who wouldn’t idolize her?

Why jazz?

Jazz is free in practically every sense according to me. I’ve played my other instruments with chamber orchestras and symphonies where the scores are extremely structured with no room for musical interpretation by the musician. Jazz is unique because it is an exception to that strict form. With only a couple measures of form, a song can expand off the page and originate from the individual. It lets you, as the musician, express yourself through your instrument in a way that I’m not sure many other genres of music would allow.


"This I Dig of You" - Hank Mobley (Soul Station--1999 Digital Remaster)

"Free Fall" - Melissa Aldana (Free Fall)

"Take Five" - Dave Brubeck (Time Out)

"Moanin'" - Charles Mingus (Moanin')

"Where Are You" - Sonny Rollins (The Bridge--Remastered)

"Move On Up" - Jazz Soul Seven (Impressions of Curtis Mayfield)

"But Not For Me" - Chet Baker (Chet Baker Sings)

"Strasbourg/St. Denis" - Roy Hargrove (Earfood)

"Birdland" - Maynard Ferguson (Carnival)

Social Media

Instagram: @alli.wick

Twitter: @alliwickk