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The New Cool: Black Americans expand the sounds of modern jazz

Photo by Abe Beeson
Perhaps the most modern jazz musician ever, Miles Davis searched for new sounds from the Birth of the Cool to electronic fusion and pop in the 1980s.

Saturday is Juneteenth, the recently proclaimed state holiday honoring the abolition of slavery in the United States. KNKX is proud to bring listeners the jazz and blues music born of the African American experience that's an essential part of our nation's cultural heritage. Black musicians continue to be at the forefront of American popular music and to expand of the language of modern jazz and blues.

I never forget that my whole career as a presenter and appreciator of jazz on KNKX is owed to the African Americans who created this music. This week's Studio Session Spotlight and New Cool will feature music entirely from bands led or co-led by Black artists, including a few international stars.

Seattle-born groups Industrial Revelation and the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio have been some of the most popular and influential groups in the Northwest over the past years, finding ways to take the jazz and soul tradition and create new and vital modernist styles.

You'll hear a 2017 performance from the original Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio lineup on the KNKX Studio Session Spotlight Friday night at 8, transitioning to Industrial Revelation to begin The New Cool at 9.

You'll also hear multiple award-winners Terence Blanchard, Stanley Clarke, Nicholas Payton and the late Roy Hargrove. These modern jazz veterans have combined their love of soul, funk, rock and hip-hop into fresh new forays in jazz from the '70s through the '90s, becoming key influencers of today's jazz players.

Top artists of the past decade - Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper, Trombone Shorty, Gregory Porter - have produced exciting music of their own as well as in collaboration with (and developing a community for) dozens of emerging and accomplished artists.

Friday's show also includes Black modern jazz stars from England. The Ezra Collective and saxophonist Nubya Garcia bring together modern ideas and deep connections to the rhythms of the African diaspora, powering one of the hottest modern jazz scenes in the world today.

Call it Freedom Day, Emancipation Day, Liberation Day, Jubilee Day or Juneteenth - but never forget the indispensible musical gifts to human culture from the Black artists KNKX shares with our audience every day. Find more Juneteenth events around Puget Sound here.

The New Cool airs Fridays from 9 to 11 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Wash.

Abe grew up in Western Washington, a 3rd 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.