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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 Alaska Airlines and BECU.

South Puget Sound Community College And The Evergreen State College

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Parker Miles Blohm
/
KNKX

It was a fun jazz session with a great group of students, which included two different schools and a variety of age groups.  The energy brought by some of the young lions melded nicely with the older aesthetic.

The first song by Sun Ra titled “El is a Sound of Joy.” Mentor Keyboardist Josh Rawlings was happy to hear the group was already doing the song and encouraged them to “get weirder on it” and to explore the dynamic range and tempo.

Next the group tackled “Angel Eyes” by Earl Bent and Matt Dennis with an arrangement by Rawlings.

The final tune the group played “Climbing Stairs” written by Rawlings and patterned after the works of Abdulla Ibrahim and Ahmad Jamal. 

Josh played a vintage Rhodes organ made popular in the 1970s by artists such as Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock.  He was first introduced to the instrument by a trumpeter who brought one to a gig at a Vietnamese restaurant and was hooked when he first played it.   

Danielle Westbrook is a continuing education student at SPSCC and plays trumpet and sings.  She was a revelation not unlike Bria Skonberg who impressed not only with her lush smoky voice but also her sprightly trumpet playing.  Her father is a professional musician and was Danielle’s earliest influence as well as her all-female band “Bevy” and her current jazz groups.  She is grateful for the program at SPSCC and Evergreen and is grateful to the influence of Maria Joyner-Wulf and James Schneider.  She looks forward to more music with a variety of groups.  

Theo Ragan plays piano and was influenced heavily by SPSCC director James Schnieder who brought him into the funk band Luna Melt. 

Rogan Keys handles tenor sax and is an Evergreen student. He says his grandfather who played saxophone and his high school band director who created a supportive environment influenced him.  Rogan is hoping to continue on in saxophone and eventually play in New York City.

Noah Plumley plays drums with SPSCC.  He began playing drums on a drum bed and progressed to a set. His high school band director asked him to join the band and there he discovered his love of jazz through artists like Dave Brubeck and Miles Davis.  Noah enjoys making electronic music on his laptop and improving on drums.

Nick Rawson plays bass and is an Evergreen senior. He started in school orchestras and bands and his own rock bands and loves the free and progressive jazz tied to the 70s and in fact transcribed the Ra tune the group played.

Josh was always musical and his parents played mostly popular music.  His father tried to push him into drums which he played in high school jazz bands.  The piano called though and eventually he attended Cornish College where his mentor Randy Halberstadt and Jovino Santos Neto played a big influence.  His band Industrial Revelation played often in Olympia and that’s where he connected with the mentored group.  You can catch him also with the Josh Rawlings Trio.

Paige Hansen has been heard on radio station 88.5 KNKX-FM for over 20 years where she’s hosted news & jazz. You can currently hear her hosting jazz weekdays & Sundays. She is also an active musician, writer and singer. She directs the original jazzy soul pop group Playtonics and sings with the dance band Candy Shoppe. She has been passionate about the performing arts for most of her life and feels it brings healing and health. Follow her (& her bands) on social media for information on upcoming releases and gigs. She lives in the Tacoma area with her husband and sons.
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