Abe Beeson | KNKX

Abe Beeson

New Cool & Jazz Host

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.

At the end of 2015, just as the campaign to save 88.5 began, Abe debuted his modern jazz show The New Cool. Saturday afternoons from 3 to 5 p.m., you can hear 21st-century jazz inspired and informed by the sounds of today: hip-hop, & funk, Electronic music and punk rock — the future of jazz has arrived.

His most memorable KNKX radio moments include introducing Dave Brubeck, Ray Charles, Oscar Peterson, and other greats; attending jazz festivals in Spain and Argentina with groups of KNKX jazz fans; and locking himself out of the station on a particularly cold winter night.

Ways to Connect

Alex Chadsey of Duende Libre in the KNKX Seattle studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

While recording two albums as a trio (mostly), Seattle's Duende Libre has worked with singers Chava Mirel and Frank Anderson in live settings almost since the group's founding. In a recent visit to the KNKX studios, Mirel and Anderson truly felt like integral members of the band.

Emmet Cohen in the KNKX Studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

There are 100 years of jazz recordings, most available a click away. Emmet Cohen says he wants to make music that honors all of it.

Cohen is two albums into his Masters Legacy Series. The first featured legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb, the second with bass icon Ron Carter. Future releases include Cohen's work with jazz giants Benny Golson, Tootie Heath and George Coleman.

When our friend Anton Schwartz came into our studios to lead his sextet of Seattle all-stars, it was an opportunity to see the saxman in the spotlight after his sideman work in a series of live collaborations on KNKX.

Chad McCullough
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

A quartet split between American and Belgian musicians, it's strangely logical that trumpeter Chad McCullough and pianist Bram Weijters first met in Banff, Canada about a decade ago. It's been a long-distance relationship made in heaven ever since.

Both co-leaders say the collaborations have many side benefits beyond their music. They're able to coordinate tours of the US and Europe with an adopted home base, and they can market their music from two locations as well.

Jazzmeia Horn in the KNKX Seattle Studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

I like to fantasize about using a time machine to catch early concerts by jazz legends of the past. Every once in a while, a young talent emerges that has me searching their crowd for curious time-traveling jazz fans from the future. Jazzmeia Horn is certainly worthy of such a trip.

Christian Sands in the KNKX Studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Talking before our live session with pianist Christian Sands and his trio, I told him his former boss, bassist Christian McBride, formed his New Jawn without a pianist because Sands is irreplaceable. He laughed out loud and said, "I like the way you think!" After hearing his phenomenal trio in our Seattle studios, that idea may not be so farfetched.

Kelsey Mines of SmackTalk in the KNKX Seattle studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The two-sax quintet SmackTalk is well trained for jazz, but their music is more than that. Much more.

Performing live in the KNKX studios, the band’s energy, and a good deal of their sound was reminiscent of the indie rock that filled nightclubs in Seattle 20 years ago, filtered through cool modern jazz swagger.

Kandace Springs in the KNKX Seattle Studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Growing up a jazz fan in the country music capital of the world, Nashville native Kandace Springs has never fit comfortably into any single musical category. Today, that's just the way she likes it, and we do, too.

The singer, songwriter and pianist has just released her second album. Indigo is a collection of original songs, and soulful interpretations of her favorite pop tunes. It's also a showcase for Springs' incredible voice and impressive piano skills.

SRJO in the KNKX Seattle Studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It just wasn't possible to fit the entire Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra in our Seattle studios, so a more reasonably sized quintet came in to preview the SRJO's exciting 24th season beginning this weekend.

Our listeners were treated to three highlights from the opening concerts, A Night at the Village Vanguard, at Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Saturday night and the Kirkland Performance Center Sunday afternoon.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Chris Icasiano and Neil Welch were both studying jazz at the University of Washington when they formed Bad Luck. Now, after more than a decade of thinking beyond the limits of genre classifications, the band and their fans have no need to define this music.

Mixing free jazz with folk, metal and electronic styles, Bad Luck are a band in pursuit. Icasiano and Welch both mentioned feeling better about their music than they ever have, now four albums and ten years along.

Christian McBride's New Jawn in the KNKX Studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

When great musicians push themselves to do something different, it can be an exciting prospect. Christian McBride's New Jawn is a great example of that. And when those musicians really enjoy that challenge, that's when the magic of jazz happens.

Dylan Hayes
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

We first encountered talented pianist Dylan Hayes performing with a trio at Centrum's Jazz Pt. Townsend camp this Summer, and we knew this young man was ready for the KNKX studios.

Hayes is in his final year studying jazz at Cornish College in Seattle, and he brought a fellow student and a few friends in town for a sonic display of his skills as a player, bandleader and composer.

KNKX hosted students of Seattle JazzED's Summer Advanced Institute for a second time in August, and the kids set a new record for largest group to play in our studios.

A total of 29 students split into 3 combos with mentors Riley Mulhelkar (trumpeter with the Westerlies, this Seattle native now lives in New York City), Sammy Miller (New York-based drummer who leads Sammy Miller and the Congregation), and Marina Albero (the Spanish pianist who's thrilled Seattle audiences upon her arrival in 2014).

You could tell by the smiles on the musicians backing singer Johnaye Kendrick in the KNKX studios, they really enjoy working with her. Since her arrival teaching at Cornish College nearly a decade ago, Kendrick is proving to be a musician's singer.

When it comes down to it, though, Kendrick is a musician. She's spent years studying jazz, including the Thelonious Monk Institute and Loyola University. Now a Professor of Music in Seattle, her bio at Cornish refers exclusively to her jazz bona fides. But she grew up listening to pop music. 

Victor Wooten
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Victor Wooten's trio is a powerhouse outfit, even when it's just a duo. A saxophonist working with just bass and drums usually has a lot of work to do, but sax/flute player Bob Franceschini told me that working with Wooten and Dennis Chambers on bass and drums is a different story.

Even without Chambers' drumming, Victor Wooten was more than able to provide a fat rhythm section on his own live in the KNKX studios. Franceschini did provide some rhythm on sax, in tight collaboration with Wooten's bass, but was mostly adding his own flowing melodic lines.

Dmitri Matheny returning to Seattle, and Tula's on September 7
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Dmitri Matheny is one of the country's preeminent flugelhorn players, and a serious movie lover. In his second performance in the KNKX studios, Dmitri returned to a pair of film melodies and gave us a look at an upcoming project with a pair of top Seattle jazz musicians and two more from out of town.

Singer Holly Pyle is a friend of Dmitri's from the Phoenix area, an exciting vocalist who's known to push beyond the limits of jazz. She's an expert in looping vocal effects and also has experience in opera, pop, funk and hip-hop styles.

Seattle native Kassa Overall came up drumming in the celebrated Garfield High School jazz band, but he's always been exploring the action behind the scenes in music.

Hunter Gather in the KNKX Studios
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Jazz musicians have always found inspiration from a wide world of music, and Seattle-based quartet Hunter Gather continue that tradition in a time when consideration of genres is becoming passé.

Growing up as lovers of a wide variety of musical styles, Hunter Gather continues the jazz musicians' constant quest to find a personal sound. They've done that, with echoes of American folk music, indie-rock youthfulness, and less-obvious hints of progressive metal and punk rock.

It could be her charming, drawling vocals or the contagious smile on Marina Christopher's face that instantly wins over fans. Just as likely, she'll draw you in with the music she makes with her Dreamboats band - an addictive blend of jazz, soul and classic pop.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Considering the mix of the nine (or ten) members of Seattle's future funk fusion group High Pulp, it has to be fusion. Their new album Bad Juice is out this week and they're celebrating live at Nectar with Industrial Revelation Saturday night. We got a powerful preview live in the KNKX studios that you've gotta hear.

Dee Dee Bridgewater at the Victoria International JazzFest
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Memphis-born singer Dee Dee Bridgewater broke into jazz with the great Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, and she's collaborated with Ray Charles and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1975 she won a Tony Award for her role as Glenda the Good Witch in The Wiz, and also won accolades for her tributes to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Horace Silver. Three times a Grammy winner, Bridgewater is renowned for her live performances, including her recent album and tour honoring the soul music she grew up with, Memphis... Yes, I'm Ready.

Ghost-Note is co-led by Snarky Puppy rhythm section mates Robert Searight (drum kit) and Nate Werth (percussion). Originating as a percussion duo, they've built a band with a "rotating cast of serious cats" including former Prince bass player MonoNeon on their new album Swagism. Funky grooves with more than a touch of psychedelic improvisation is their trademark, with rhythm in the spotlight.

Kenny Washington in the KNKX Public Radio Studios
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It's not a well-kept secret, at least in the Bay Area where he's been called the "Superman" of their jazz scene, but Kenny Washington's incredible vocal talents are just starting to get noticed. When he performed live in our studios, it was easy to see he's more comfortable as Clark Kent than the Man of Steel.

Kenny Washington was raised in America's jazz and party capital of New Orleans, but his father kept him away from the wild atmosphere of the French Quarter. His early musical training was in the gospel church, and he only picked up on jazz in his late teens.

Jacqueline Tabor in the KNKX Studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

As a sharp-witted friend noted recently, singer Jacqueline Tabor is " ruining the dour jazz musician stereotype!" The KNKX studio session audience was certainly drawn into the fun when Jacqueline celebrated her new album with The 200 Trio live on KNKX.

The Lady in the Gown, title inspired by our own Nick Morrison's thoughts on Tabor's previous studio session here, features mostly classic jazz standards. There's a reason these songs are still performed, they're both perfectly constructed and open to personal interpretation.

Frank Vitolo of Bad News Botanists live at KNKX Public Radio.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Enjoying a year that has brought his band a lot of positive attention, saxophonist Frank Vitolo brought his Bad News Botanists to our studios for a fun session of original funky jazz. It was a preview of their performance on The New Cool stage at the Northwest Folklife Festival, and more proof that this band is making its mark.

Jacob Szekely in the KNKX Studios
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

He's not just a terrific player and songwriter, cellist Jacob Szekely is blazing a path for future jazz cellists to follow. With his trio live in our studios, it's clear that his instrument is ready for the jazz spotlight.

Szekely told us that the traditional way of learning cello makes it nearly impossible to translate those skills to improvisation, so he retrained himself to play in a new way. He's also co-founded the String Project of Los Angeles to give other cellists a fresh direction in their musical expression.

Abe Beeson / KNKX

I'm just back from a fantastic trip to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. There are far too many moments from the festival grounds to mention here, but on Sunday night I found an allstar group of New Cool favorites on the edge of the French Quarter.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Before his performance in our studios, pianist Danny Green told me he hadn't played many solo shows. In fact, his new album One Day It Will adds a string quartet to his long-running trio. After three dazzling songs, however, it was clear Green has plenty to say on his own.

Courtesy of Tom Collins

 

The KNKX School of Jazz hit the road for a performance at Seattle Pacific University's beautiful Nickerson Studios and we were knocked out by the talented sextet that makes up the S.P.U. Jazz Ensemble.

Guitarist Chase Rabideau told us that S.P.U. is one of the few places you can earn a degree in his chosen field, Music Therapy, right after showing off his beautiful acoustic guitar technique on the Antonio Carlos Jobim song "Look to the Sky."

Spike Wilner in the KNKX Studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

On his path to musical self-discovery, pianist Spike Wilner set out to make himself a part of his New York City community. He'd buy old pianos and give them to bars for free, in exchange for a regular night for Spike to play there. We were happy to provide a freshly tuned piano to Spike when he brought his New York friends with him for a spirited Studio Session.

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