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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.

School of Jazz: Anna McPherson serves as guest DJ


Alto saxophonist Anna McPherson from Snohomish High School will virtually join Abe Beeson on Evening Jazz tonight at 8 p.m. (Sept. 3) as guest DJ. She is a sophomore and in the school's band program. Listen to her show and read her Q&A.

Which instrument do you play and why?
I play the alto sax, clarinet, flute, and soprano sax. I was told that the alto sax was the “gateway to woodwinds”, so I started playing that in sixth grade. I picked up clarinet and flute in 2018, and recently did a soprano feature in my jazz band in late 2019.

What’s your all-time favorite jazz piece?
I would say that I have a different favorite piece every month. Some pieces that have stuck in my mind are “Sunday Table” by Pink Martini, “Cherokee” by Clifford Brown and Max Roach, as well as “Take the A Train” by Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. It’s hard to choose just one when there are so many amazing pieces out there! And of course, every song on my playlist is an “all-time favorite”.

Who is your jazz hero?
My jazz hero is Charlie Parker. I started listening and learning his songs and solos before I even started playing in jazz band. Although I’m not always thrilled to sit down and work out yet another written solo with runs and sixteenth notes galore, I know that it only makes me stronger and advances me as a musician. His melodies are so complex, but simple at the same time. I believe that a key part of being a successful young jazz musician is understanding Bird and developing the ability to dissect his difficult masterpieces.

Why jazz?
I believe that jazz is one of the most advanced, most interesting, and most fulfilling genres out there. When I go from playing classical music to jazz, I can feel my heart rate go up. It’s exciting, rhythmic, and more spontaneous than any other type of music I’ve ever heard. The way that you can just use a scale, or a “mixed bag” of notes and create your own solos on the spot is extraordinary to me. You can learn a melody to a song and have the ability to play that piece with any group of musicians, regardless of instrument. It truly is amazing.

Anna also recently recorded a new album Collaborate with Ella Molsee and Brent Jense featuring songs from Joseph Kosna, Charlie Parker, Karin Kroch, Pink Martini, and more.  Listen to the album and subscribe to their YouTube channel.


"Ohayoo Ohio" Pink Martini (Splendor in the Grass)

"Alfie" James Morrison/Joe Chindamo (2X2)

"Red Pepper Blues" Art Pepper (Meets the Rhythm Section)

"Sway (Quien Sera)" Dean Martin (The Capitol Recordings)

"When You're Smiling" Billie Holiday/Teddy Wilson (A Musical Romance)

"Cissy Strut" The Meters (The Meters)

"Nice Work If You Can Get It" Bing Crosby (Bing Sings Whilst Bregman Swings)

"KC Blues" Charlie Parker (Swedish Schnapps)

"Au Privave" Wynton Marsalis (Quartet Live at Blues Alley)

Follow Anna's school band program on Instagram @snohomish.pantherband.