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A magical visit from the jazz all-stars of Eckstein Middle School

Eckstein Middle School in the KNKX studios.
Eckstein Middle School in the KNKX studios.

Saxophonist Anton Schwartz wished he'd had more time to work with the young jazz combo from Eckstein Middle School. In the KNKX studios, these six young women stepped up and showed Schwartz there was no need to be nervous. These kids can really play.

Eckstein Middle School's stellar reputation for early jazz education comes largely from the director of the school's jazz bands, Moc Escobedo. Last year he was given the Jazz Education Achievement Award from Downbeat Magazine, which noted Mr. Escobedo's "legendary work ethic."

Schwartz voiced his emphatic appreciation for Escobedo, marveling at his ability to get young musicians so excited about playing jazz.

An exciting set of music is what this band produced in our studios. Schwartz let the all-star sextet play a pair of jazz standards on their own, then joined them for an impressive performance of his tune, "Phantom Dance." The band took a few minutes before the studio session to polish up some rough edges, but they sounded confident and well-prepared throughout.

With prominent alumni including singer Sara Gazarek, Westerlies trombonist Willem De Koch, and Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra multi-instrumentalist Alex Dugdale, Eckstein seems to have another collection of future stars preparing for their moments in the spotlight.

At this point, you might be interested to note all six musicians in this ensemble just happen to be girls. They mentioned the importance of building a community of musicians/friends and about their love of freedom in jazz improvisation.

Hats off to Mr Escobedo and this all-star combo: Anna Sayrs (alto sax), Ally Koll (trumpet), Annabelle Bachhuber (guitar), Maya Stroh (piano), Annemarie Faul (bass) and Izzy Haakanson (drums).

Still at the beginnings of their musical journey, these musicians are another reminder of the incredible jazz opportunities in the Northwest. They're making this a better world, one note at a time.

Abe grew up in Western Washington, a third generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.