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The New Cool: Talking modern jazz with fans at Marymoor

Tom Collins
Kamasi Washington blows his sax among the trees at Marymoor Park.

There were miles of smiles at Marymoor Park in Redmond last Friday for the world-class double bill of Kamasi Washington and Herbie Hancock bands. Before the show and between sets, fans stopped by the KNKX tent to talk with New Cool host Abe Beeson about what "modern jazz" means to them.

It was a great concert featuring a legend of modern jazz and one of the young titans of the 21st century's modern movements in the music, a perfect spot to ponder this tricky question. (More than one jazz fan said, "I don't know how to answer that!") We'd love to hear your thoughts, just comment below.

Bridget from Bainbridge Island: "I think it's a great mix of different sounds and techniques that create this exciting blend that's different and it keeps you on your toes, it's really cool!"

Antero from Olympia: "It 100% has a flavor or an ingredient of hip-hop, that's the progression of the music. Nowadays, there's so many genres, so many people in the game, that it really can be (fusions of) bluegrass, country.... you know, modern is just what hasn't been done before, like ingredients that haven't been mixed in yet."

Lauren from Gig Harbor: "Jazz is a form of music that's always been kind of trying out a different thing. What's really special about it is jazz has no boundaries. None. It can only keep changing, morphing into some kind of new different thing, and I think that's what makes it so special."

Johan from Kent: "What I like is hearing those jazz elements in areas that aren't jazz. I hear swinging rhythms in nasty dub-step music that people lose their minds to and scream at a show, and I think, 'I played that in high school with Mr. B!"

Credit Tom Collins
Herbie Hancock, at 79 years old, still reigns as the king of modern jazz.

Janice from the Methow Valley: "I think of the Scandanavian jazz...the new stuff...kinda blows me away. If it sounds good, it is good, and there's a lot of good stuff out there."

Ryan from Bellingham: "In a single word -- ecclectic. I think Kamasi Washington here is a prime example. Everything that we just heard is right along that line of what people wanna hear, but don't know they wanna hear yet."

It may be indefinable, but modern jazz is attracting a lot of listeners who love this inexpressable mix of musical styles that has always found a home with jazz fans of all ages.

You'll hear a cool blend of styles on the show Saturday afternoon, including the guitarist in Hancock's band last weekend, Lionel Loueke with the "new" Blue Note All-Stars. Influences of Americana, hip-hop, funk, electronica, afro-beat and the music of India will all reveal themselves between 3 and 5 p.m., and there's plenty to go around. Pass it on!

P.S. -- The New Cool presents a tribute to John Coltrane's epic album A Love Supreme at the Royal Room Wednesday, Aug. 28, featuring Freudian Slurp bassist Dylan Hughes, pianist Art Borders, drummer D'Vonne Lewis and Carlos Overall in Coltrane's shoes on saxophone. See you there!

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

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