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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 February: Forrest Aubrey

School of Jazz guest DJ Forrest Aubrey records his show at the KNKX Seattle studios.
Abe Beeson
February School of Jazz guest DJ Forrest Aubrey is eager to share his favorite jazz with KNKX listeners Thursday night.

KNKX School of Jazz guest DJ Forrest Aubrey is a senior trumpet player in the Edmonds-Woodway High School jazz band. He's a busy member of the jazz scene in his community and points to EWHS band director Jake Bergevin as a driving force for him and his jazz compatriots in the central Puget Sound area.

Choosing a variety of trumpet styles from icons Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis as well as modern stars Roy Hargrove and Ambrose Akinmusire, Aubrey has honed his own trumpet tone in school as well as in monthly jam sessions at Romeo's Pizza Kitchen.

Aubrey also plays a little piano and sings, showing his love for those instruments with songs from Bill Evans and Esperanza Spalding. The playlist showed a diversity in eras as well, though Aubrey notes that the feeling of the blues is a constant in his reading of jazz history.

He's looking forward to a busy senior year and plans to continue jazz studies in college, pointing to Berklee College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music as hopeful homes in his near future.

Enjoy this selection of jazz trumpets and more across the history of jazz with Guest DJ Forrest Aubrey.

Which instrument do you play and why?

I play the trumpet mainly, though I also play piano and sing a little. I picked the trumpet up in 5th grade when the students at my school joined either band or orchestra. When we first started choosing which instruments we wanted to play, I had immaturely decided before even trying any of them that I wanted to play either the trumpet or the clarinet. When I tried each of these instruments, I made sound with the trumpet and didn’t make any sound with the clarinet, so I went with the trumpet.

Through elementary and middle school, I think the main reason I really liked playing the trumpet was because I felt good at it. Then, when entering high school, getting braces threw a wrench in that. The whole process of getting on and getting off braces caused a lot of physical, but more importantly, emotional, pain in regard to playing the trumpet. A lot of my self-esteem rested in how well I felt I played the trumpet.

Now I would say that I play trumpet more as an outlet to express myself, particularly as I learn more about myself and life. I feel less like I need to keep playing it than I have felt in the past, and I more just enjoy it as an outlet for expression.

What’s your all-time favorite jazz piece?

One of my all-time favorites is definitely "Naima," by John Coltrane. Ballads tend to be some of my favorite songs because I find them beautiful, and "Naima" sounds one of the most memorable to me. The chords to "Naima" create pretty unique-sounding tension and release which sonically differentiate the song from other ballads I’ve heard. I also really like "Stardust."

Who is your jazz hero?

Right now, my jazz hero is Ambrose Akinmusire. In fact, I would say he’s my hero period. I think the fact that he plays trumpet makes it easy for me to connect to his music, while some of the things I love his music most for is the compassion, honesty, and feeling of the blues in it.

Not only do I love Ambrose Akinmusire’s music, though, I also really love his interviews. I think that Akinmusire is quite wise, and I’ve found what he says in interviews helpful in guiding me. In this sense, he’s more of a role model for life overall to me than just a musical role model.

Why jazz?

This is a tough question. A year ago, I probably would have answered because of the improvisation. Though I still enjoy the improvisation, I feel like I’m also coming to enjoy many other aspects of music. One thing I want to get into more is composition and arranging. However, right now, I would say I’m kind of just sticking with jazz since I’ve been playing it seriously for long enough now, and I enjoy it. It also helps that I’ve been listening to it for as long as I can remember. I feel like I’m still figuring out what I want to do in life, though, and I’m sure my answer to this question will continue to change over time.

Forrest's Playlist:

  1. "Things We Did Last Summer" Freddie Hubbard
  2. "It's Oh, So Nice" Count Basie
  3. "Ponta De Areia" Esperanza Spalding
  4. "The Duke" Miles Davis
  5. "Nostalgia" Roy Hargrove
  6. "The Peacocks" Bill Evans
  7. "Moment in Between the Rest (To Curve an Ache)" Ambrose Akinmusire
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.