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The New Cool: Folklife announces the return of the New Cool stage

Parker Miles Blohm/KNKX
Ian Hughes and his brother Dylan bring Freudian Slurp to the New Cool stage at Folklife 2019

It's fund drive time at KNKX, so take this opportunity to support the jazz, blues, NPR and Northwest news you love by chipping in whatever you can at or 877-NPR-KNKX (677-5758) right now. Saturday afternoon 3-6 p.m., I'll be teaming up with Robin Lloyd to encourage your pledge to The New Cool and Jazz Caliente. I also have some big news to announce regarding The New Cool at this year's Folklife Festival, running May 24-27 at Seattle Center.

KNKX returns for a third year hosting The New Cool stage at Folklife, with three wonderful modern jazz acts from our own backyard strutting their stuff on the afternoon of May 25. The DX-Tet, SmackTalk and Freudian Slurp will all perform 30-minute sets to exhibit and celebrate the wealth of talent in the Seattle area, and their progressive views of what jazz can be.

Beginning the fun at the Fountain Lawn Stage at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, we bring you the DX-Tet. Pianist Dylan Hayes and drummer Xavier Lecouturier are both talented composers and arrangers in their early 20s who've become first-call sidemen to some of the top jazz talent in the region. The two have known each other since high school, and their intriguing compositional style provides complex interactions that always seem to be created on the spot.

A great example comes from the live KNKX studio session last fall, led by Hayes and featuring Lecouturier as well as bassist Michael Glynn, guitarist Ravi Sharma and Rex Gregory's saxophone. "XD," written by Lecouturier and featuring acoustic and electric keys work from Hayes, blends grooves and progressive jazz melodic twists. It's a catchy piece with sneaky challenges and undeniable technical chops.

With the second set beginning at 1:10 p.m., it's SmackTalk, who just released a brand new EP, Servin It Hot, that we debuted on The New Cool last week. The band’s energy, and a good deal of their sound, is reminiscent of the indie rock that filled nightclubs in Seattle 20 years ago, but filtered through cool modern jazz swagger.

This majority-female group blends funky grooves with complex-but-accessible harmonizing horns, developed over changes common in classic rock-jazz fusion of the '70s. It’s party music for smart people.

Dig into the new EP at SmackTalk's Bandcamp page, and check out this live performance of "Act Your Age" from the KNKX studios last fall, featuring killer bass work from Kelsey Mines.

Our headlining band at 1:50 p.m. on the afternoon of May 25 will be Freudian Slurp. Hughes brothers Ian (guitar) and Dylan (bass) formed the band a decade ago, and in recent years have polished their fusion of jazz, progressive rock and funk to a high shine.

As you can tell from the band name, Freudian Slurp are an irreverent group. Beyond their skewed sense of humor, this band has the musical goods. Their music is dramatic and cinematic; it's modern jazz that's sure to appeal to fans of the film scores of Herbie Hancock and perhaps Lalo Schifrin.

Ian Hughes tells me he's excited to add drummer Tyler Graves to the band, and they also have been working in the trumpet fireworks of Adam Robb. Check out the movie-theme-without-a-movie "Skeleton Boss," from their live session from 2017, for a good example of Freudian Slurp's adventurous, passionate music.

Folklife is Seattle's greatest festival of arts, culture and music that's still absolutely free. I hope you'll bring your friends and family to join me at Seattle Center on May 25 to hear some of the Northwest's finest modern jazz groups, and enjoy the vast and varied artistic community that surrounds us every day.

While you're at it, now is a great time to head over to at pledge your support for KNKX. We love bringing you the best in modern jazz on The New Cool, and we can't do it without the support of our community. Thanks for being such an important part of connecting our audience and world class music!

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