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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 July: Liam Escame

Saxophonist Liam Escame sits at the piano in the KNKX studios before his guest DJ show
Abe Beeson
Saxophonist Liam Escame sits at the piano in the KNKX studios before his guest DJ show

Saxophonist Liam Escame recently graduated from Fife High School, and he'll begin studies at Loyola University in New Orleans in September. A longtime fan of KNKX, Escame reached out to the School of Jazz to participate as a guest DJ. Get to know Liam in this Q&A, and check out his playlist.

Which instrument do you play and why?
I primarily play alto saxophone. I also play a bit of the other saxes, flute, clarinet, and piano. I find the saxophone appealing because of its diverse nature. The sound of the saxophone is ever evolving, and no two horn players sound alike. There’s always a chance for new interpretation. I appreciate that added layer of self-expression.

What’s your all-time favorite jazz piece?
If I had to choose one, my all-time favorite jazz piece would be Tangerine. I’m a big fan of up-tempo swing tunes, and Tangerine fits the bill with playful changes that keep me listening.

Who is your jazz hero?
There are two people I would like to mention. The first would be local musician Carlos Eiene (also known as insaneintherainmusic) who produces and performs jazz arrangements of video game music. A lot of my musical influence came from video game music I heard while growing up, so stumbling upon that music performed in a style I loved on top of being self-produced was extremely inspiring. Although I haven’t met him yet, I hope too someday.

The second would be my mentor/private instructor Ted Dortch. I’ve been studying with Ted for roughly three years. Over that time, he has inspired me to take my musicianship to the next level. He also introduced me to the fun side of soloing, whether that be trading solo ideas, or taking different approaches to tunes. Through this, I’ve become I better soloist tenfold, and I can’t be more thankful.

Why jazz?
Jazz is extremely authentic. That isn’t to call any other form of music unauthentic, but it’s something more noticeable in jazz. Specifically, jazz feels authentic through its ability to individualize the experience, both for the performer and the listener. As an improvised art form, infinite possibilities of interpretations and inflections can invoke an infinite number of emotions, all of which uniquely affect the performer and listener. In that way, jazz becomes personal.

Liam Escame's Playlist

Scrapple from the Apple – Sonny Stitt & Oscar Peterson Trio

Synchronicity I – The Tierney Sutton Band

Tangerine – Brent Jensen

A Night in Tunisia – Bill Anschell

The Way You Look Tonight – Maynard Ferguson

I Can’t Get Started – Charlie Parker

And Then I Knew – Pat Metheny Group

Exodus (Live) – The Cannonball Adderley Quintet

Follow Liam Escame on YouTube

Abe grew up in Western Washington, a third 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.