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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 guest DJ for January: Conan Rinehardt

Abe Beeson
Conan Rinehardt

Drummer Conan Rinehardt from Lake Stevens High School will join Abe Beeson as guest DJ on Jan. 6 during Evening Jazz at 7 p.m. Get to know him in this Q&A, and check out his playlist. He is a senior and in the school's jazz band.

Which instrument do you play and why?
Well, I play drums because when I was deciding on an instrument, I didn’t want a wind instrument because I would be at a huge disadvantage with my asthma. Now if I played another instrument, I probably would not have stuck with it because the reality is I like all styles of music, and drums definitely cater to that. With most wind instruments, you are fairly limited in styles you can play.

What’s your all-time favorite jazz piece?
Well, anyone that only has one piece that’s their favorite clearly hasn’t done enough listening. I think the playlist I selected has a fair number of tunes that you could consider my compilation of all-time favorite tunes. However, one of my favorite albums that comes to mind is Tales from the Hudson by Michael Brecker. That was my first introduction to modern jazz. One of the tunes from that album, “African Skies,” is on my playlist.

Who is your jazz hero?
Carter McLean. He was the first person I studied with that was truly honest with me. His teachings absolutely changed my playing in every positive way possible. I remember my first lesson with him, I was told to play just a basic groove. So I did. Then he basically said it sounded bad except he didn’t exactly use those words. Any moment that you started to get confident he would just destroy you. For example, he would say, “How are your doubles?” So then I would play them fairly well, and he would follow up with, “OK, now accent every fifth note.” He would do that stuff all the time or he would want you to play a groove as quietly as possible or play it unbelievably slow like 30bpm. He was all about not getting caught by something you couldn’t play. He would always speak his mind as well. If it was bad, he would tell you. I only ever got one compliment from that man.

Why jazz?
Jazz is the most important style of music to study. It’s really hard to appreciate it without playing it. That’s partially the reason there is such a small amount of people playing it. There is nothing wrong with playing punk, metal or pop music as long as you have actually done your homework. So many guys these days are all talk, and you find out that they are a mile wide and an inch deep. Usually, the guys that don’t study jazz don’t get the gigs because … well, they can’t actually play. You get someone who has their stuff together and wants to play some harder-hitting styles and you end up with legends like Matt Chamberlain who played for Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. Jazz will absolutely train your ears to the max. The reality as a musician is, you have to know how to improvise. What happens if the singer skips a verse or a chorus? The person without trained ears would be lost, but the jazz player would get the phone call for the next show.


“African Skies,” Michael Brecker (Tales from the Hudson)

“Blues for Stephanie,” Count Basie/John Clayton (On the Road)

“Venice,” Daniel Dufour (Convergence)

“Lazy,” John Scofield (Groove Elation)

“Fingerprints,” Chick Corea (Past, Present & Futures)

“Qualified,” Dr. John (In the Right Place)

“Ice Cream Dreams,” Jerome Jennings (The Beast)