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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.

School of Jazz: E.J. Brannan serves as guest DJ

Drummer E.J. Brannan from Edmonds-Woodway High School in Edmonds will join Abe Beeson as guest DJ during Evening Jazz at 8 p.m. tonight (Dec. 5). E.J. is a senior and play's in Edmond-Woodway's jazz band. Listen to his show and playlist.

Which instrument do you play and why?

Drums. Drums. Drums. To me there was never really any other option. From the second grade, I've always loved the drums: Church drums, jazz drums, rock drums, I loved all of it. As soon as I got into the third grade I started taking lessons and I never stopped! I first started playing jazz in 4th grade for the middle school jazz choir, and I loved the music and never turned back from there. As I've grown in my musicianship over these past 8 years, I've developed an attachment to this instrument; there's no other instrument that can give me the same creative liberty and ability to express myself. When I'm behind the drums, I feel free.

What’s your all-time favorite jazz piece?

"Willow Weep For Me" by Dexter Gordon. Kenny Clarke on this track changed the way that I think about time. Every bar he plays feels like a musical piece of its own. The cohesiveness of the band and the completely locked in time is something that I strive for every day playing jazz. I think that there is something to learn for everyone in this masterpiece.

Who is your jazz hero?

Elvin Jones: As one of the most progressive jazz drummers in the history of jazz, Elvin Jones revolutionized the concept of time on the drum set. He demonstrated how time can be played linearly throughout the whole kit. Also, he took the conception of what a drum solo could be and elevated it to unprecedented heights. Elvin is my greatest inspiration is creative freedom and technical musical excellence.

Why jazz?

To me, there's no other form of music that can provide me the same level of freedom to express myself and create something unique. The music I create through this genre builds a repertoire that contributes to my personal sound as a musician. A major part of that sound, however, is listening and connecting with those around me; the bonds formed through music have created some of my closest friends. The connection formed with fellow musicians in this music is something you can’t get anywhere except through this art. Jazz is an emotional art, allowing me to create connections and feel the music in a way that I've never felt with anything else. It’s difficult to even describe in words. Also, the supportive community of high school musicians who share passion for this music keeps me striving to keep learning and improving every day.


"Caravan" Art Blakey Jazz Messengers

"Such Sweet Thunder" Duke Ellington (Soul Call)

"Moment's Notice" A.Tsuruga/J. Hamilton/G. Dechter (Equal Time)

"Snatch of Sliphorn Jazz" Matt Wilson (Honey & Salt)

"Day and Night" Elvin Jones (Earth Jones)

"Kingmaker" Joel Ross (Kingmaker)


"Monk's Dream" Larry Young (Unity)

Follow E.J. Brannan on Instagram: @ej_brannan