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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: Jaeden Rubio

Jaeden Rubio, recent graduate of Lynnwood High, hosts this month's School of Jazz guest DJ show July 11.
Jaeden Rubio
Jaeden Rubio, recent graduate of Lynnwood High, hosts this month's School of Jazz guest DJ show July 11.

Jaeden Rubio, a recent graduate of Lynnwood High School, makes a second appearance in the KNKX School of Jazz as the guest DJ on evening jazz Thursday night at 7.

A year ago, Rubio attended a KNKX studio session featuring pianist Jahari Stampley and his trio. Though Rubio is a trumpet player, he was inspired by Stampley's passion for jazz - a passion the young man hopes to continue as an educator.

Leading off his guest DJ show with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Rubio noted the importance of learning about jazz beyond the classroom. The Jazz Messengers was an education for many young musicians Blakey hired over several decades, including young Branford and Wynton Marsalis.

The trumpet-playing Rubio also included Wynton with his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, as well as big band features for trumpeters Maynard Ferguson and Wayne Bergeron.

Rubio was a member of both instrumental and vocal groups at Lynnwood High, and he brought a wonderful swinger from singers Benny Benack and Veronica Swift to his playlist. He also included the ballad "Blue in Green" from Miles Davis, saying the song always fills his arms with goosebumps.

Rubio describes his final guest DJ selection as "organized chaos." The 1993 Mingus Big Band's recording of "Moanin'" reminds Rubio that "no matter how chaotic my life can get, there's always moments of clarity, there's always love."

You'll love this collection of jazz classics with a touch of chaos from Rubio. It seems like it won't be his last encounter with the KNKX School of Jazz.

"[I] would love to be one of the people who is supporting the classroom, being able to help in any way I can and drive a class forward... to Essentially Ellington or beyond," he said.

Which instruments to you play and why?

I play the trumpet primarily, which I fell into by accident. I originally had wanted to play snare drum, however, my band teacher told me that I needed to take one year of non-percussion instruments, so I just kind of chose trumpet to get it out the way before I had to learn snare drum. But during that summer I got the pleasure of getting to learn more about the trumpet and learn to love it!

What is your all-time favorite jazz song?

My all-time favorite jazz piece is "Moanin'" by the Mingus Big Band. It was the first jazz song I ever saved to my collection of jazz songs. I also played it in middle school before the Covid pandemic. Stylistically, I really enjoy the complex moving patterns that interweave with each of the parts and the individualism between all the different players. That individualism is what helps bring emphasis to the moments where they all play together in unity and with similar style and feel, which helps keep the song very interesting and moving.

Who is your jazz hero?

Though a lot of my friends will say Duke Ellington or Count Basie, I’ve always been a fan of the bebop style of Dizzy Gillespie. Something about the classic bebop sound mixed with his use of Latin styles within his band sparked something in me that really wanted me to continue forward with my music. He inspires me to develop a similar sound while still finding room for who I am as a musician.

Why jazz?

I chose Jazz because I can feel in my bones that jazz will be the biggest part of my life. I can’t go 30 seconds without scatting some new solo with some weird, diminished chord or triplet runs. I’m constantly trying to learn how to better myself and being able to read chords and improvise on the spot. I love to learn, and the sea of jazz knowledge is endless and ever-expanding. I would love to spend all of my life learning more about Jazz and helping create an environment for people who want to learn jazz.

Jaeden's playlist:

  1. "Pensativa" Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers
  2. "Portrait of Louis Armstrong" Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
  3. "Social Call" Benny Benack and Veronica Swift
  4. "Sofrito" Mambisimo Big Band
  5. "Blue in Green" Miles Davis
  6. "Maynard & Waynard" Maynard Ferguson and Wayne Bergeron
  7. "Moanin'" Mingus Big Band
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.