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Seattle's musical treasure Jim Knapp has died

Black and white photo of man with goatee and glasses.
James Knapp

The beloved trumpeter, composer, educator and punster Jim Knapp died Nov. 13 after a long illness.

Knapp studied trumpet and composition at the University of Illinois. He took over the jazz department at Cornish College of the Arts in 1971, and in 1977, he started a jazz chamber orchestra called the Composers and Improvisors Orchestra (CIO), created to present new work by members of the orchestra and by composers such as Carla Bley, Anthony Braxton, Bob Brookmeyer, Gil Evans, Dave Holland, Jim McNeely, Art Lande, Gary Peacock, Julian Priester, Sam Rivers and Cedar Walton.

In 1995, he formed the Jim Knapp Orchestra, which drew its repertoire largely from Knapp's original compositions and arrangements. After that, he founded the Chamber Groove Orchestra and an ensemble called Scrape.

He was a fine trumpeter but was best known for his work as a composer and orchestrator of music of great lyrical beauty.

"Jim Knapp's music is full of intensity, emotion and creative textures. His music should be more known. It's among the best of orchestral jazz being written these days." — Maria Schneider

Knapp was also known for his sense of humor and for his exceptional mentorship of students and fellow musicians.

You can learn more about Jim Knapp in the forthcoming book by Paul de Barros, "After Jackson Street: Seattle Jazz in the Modern Era."

Origin Recordshas recently released a 2009 recording of the Jim Knapp Orchestra called "It's Not Business, It's Personal."

Listen for a tribute to Jim Knapp on an upcoming Jazz Northwest show with Jim Wilke.

Memorial services are pending.

Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.