Jim Wilke | KNKX

Jim Wilke

Jazz Northwest Host

Jim has been a fixture on Seattle radio since 1961. He was the host of Jazz After Hours on Public Radio International from 1984-2014.  Currently Jim has been producing Jazz Northwest for KNKX since 1988.  This weekly program focuses on the regional jazz scene and frequently includes performances Jim records on location for Jazz Northwest.  

His most memorable KNKX  moment was hosting the 20th Anniversary Live at Jazz Alley show, two hours of live music. He is also a recording engineer and writer. Jim has been named one of the top jazz radio producers nationally by JazzTimes and the Jazz Journalists Association. He is in the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame and several musicians have composed songs in his honor.

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 Ingrid Jensen and Steve Treseler live at The Royal Room.
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

This week's show features several recent releases including Ingrid Jensen and Steve Treseler playing music by the late Canadian composer Kenny Wheeler in performance at the Royal Room in Seattle, and two recent recordings by Jay Thomas with Oliver Groenewald Newnet, and with Michael Van Bebber in a quintet.  Also this week, pianist Randy Halberstadt plays his adaptation of a Chopin Nocturne and we'll hear a sublime version of Leonard Bernstein's "Somewhere" played by Cannonball Adderley from a 1967 gig at The Penthouse in Seattle, recently issued for the first time.

Jean Baylor at Jazz Port Townsend 2018
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

The Baylor Project, featuring Jean and Marcus Baylor made their Jazz Port Townsend debut this Summer and they were instant hits.  Singer Jean and drummer Marcus Baylor headed the group which included Stefon Harris, vibes, Taylor Eigsti, piano and Jon Hamar, bass. All were also members of the faculty from Centrum's Jazz Workshop, which precedes the Festival the last weekend of July each year.  

Jazz Northwest celebrates the release of new albums ranging from the Sixties to the teens from sessions that took place in Seattle. A new gatefold double LP set recorded from live radio broadcasts in 1966-1967 features The Cannonball Adderley Quintet at The Penthouse, a jazz club in Pioneer Square during the Sixties. At the other end of the scale is a recent recording of Ingrid Jensen and Steve Treseler playing the music of the late Canadian composer Kenny Wheeler, recorded in studio sessions and at The Royal Room in Seattle in 2015.

Maria Schneider conducting the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

The multi-award-winning composer and arranger Maria Schneider conducted The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra in two concerts of her music earlier this month.  The second concert, at Kirkland Performance Center, was recorded and excerpts will be featured on Jazz Northwest Sunday, Nov. 25 at 2 p.m. PST on 88.5 KNKX, streaming at knkx.org.  

D'Vonne Lewis performing at the Seattle Art Museum.
Courtesy of Lisa Hagen Glynn

Playing in front of a backdrop of Jodhpur, India, drummer D'Vonne Lewis and a new quartet named Passage played this month's Art of Jazz concert.  Passage blended several types of music and cultures in this concert presented by Earshot Jazz at the Seattle Art Museum. The international blend of African, South & Central American music and American Jazz provided additional international flavor to SAM's current exhibition Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India. 

George Cables at Jazz Port Townsend.
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

This week on Jazz Northwest, we feature the complete concert "Celebrating George Cables" from this year's Jazz Port Townsend that took place during the last weekend in July.  Pianist George Cables has been a perennial favorite for many years at the festival, and also during the Jazz Workshop, the week preceding the festival.  Whether in the classroom, on the main stage or an intimate club, he has long been a favorite among fans and other musicians.  

Two communities along the Northern side of Oregon were home to hundreds of blue-collar laborers in timber and shipbuilding industries and reveal an unfamiliar story about The Great Migration in the Northwest.  Maxville and Vanport no longer exist, but a stirring collection of new music celebrates an under-represented period of Black history in Oregon. The powerful music was composed by Ezra Weiss with lyrics by poet S.Renee Mitchell, and is performed by the 12-member Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble with vocalist Marilyn Keller.  The album is being released later this month.

Elena Maque, Farko Dosumov
Jim Wilke / KNKX

Saxophonist, vocalist, and composer Elena Maque was featured with her group in this month's Art of Jazz concert presented by Earshot Jazz at The Seattle Art Museum.  Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, she graduated from the Mussorgsky College of Music and played and toured with a jazz big band led by Gennady Golshtein.  Those tours took her to several surrounding countries and provided additional musical influences on her music.  She relocated to Seattle several years ago and is now established on the Seattle musical scene.

Alexey Nikolaev live at Tula's Jazz Club.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The Axiom Quartet will be featured this week on Jazz Northwest.  The quartet was formed in 2004 to bring together the talents of saxophonist Alexey Nikolaev, pianist and composer John Hansen, Michael Glynn on bass and Phil Parisot on drums. Axiom has been playing a regular monthly gig at Tula's and has built a strong library of original compositions and arrangements. This performance recorded at Tula's last month is a good sampling of their variety of music.  

New and soon-to-be-released music is featured on a special Fall Fund Drive edition this week on Jazz Northwest. Pianist and composer Randy Halberstadt will release his new CD "Open Heart" in October, coinciding with his retirement from Cornish College of the Arts. Another member of the Cornish music faculty, Johnaye Kendrick has a recent release "Flying" is also on this show, and Jacob Zimmerman has a new CD "More of That" which recalls small band swing of the 40s.   A tune titled "Belltown" by the Axiom Quartet recorded at Tula's serves as a teaser for next week's show.

Nathan Breedlove
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Art of Jazz’s September concert at Seattle Art Museum featured the nu Trio. The trio consists of three veteran musicians, Nathan Breedlove on trumpet, Phil Sparks on bass and Brian Kirk ondrums.  The combination of trumpet, bass and drums with no chordal instrument such as guitar or piano, allows the trio to play with an open, airy feel that encourages free improvisation.  

 

The Earshot Jazz festival celebrates it’s 30thyear in Seattle. John Gilbreath, Executive Director of Earshot joins host Jim Wilke for a preview and sampling of some of the talent appearing at the Festival on Jazz Northwest this week. This year's festival runs from October 7 through November 4 and includes over 60 performances at various venues in and around Seattle. Violinist Regina Carter, saxophonist Tia Fuller, and pianist George Colligan are among visiting artists. This year’s resident artist is pianist and composer Jovino Santos Neto.

Some recent and soon-to-be-released new music from Vancouver BC and Portland is featured on this weeks episode.  Vancouver B.C. vocalist Karin Plato's seventh release "This Could Be The One" features her original songs and is coming out this month. Portland trumpet player and composer Charlie Porter is releasing an ambitious debut - a collection of original music for solo through sextet groups of Portland musicians.  In addition, a new album by composer-arranger Oliver Groenewald's NewNet featuring Jay Thomas which will be released with a concert at The Earshot Festival.

Centrum All Star Big Band in concert at Jazz Port Townsend, 2018
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

Always one of the highlights of Centrum's annual Jazz Port Townsend Festival is the big band performance, which takes place on Saturday afternoon.  Some of the greatest jazz composers and arrangers have directed this band in their own music, but this year was different.  Festival Artistic Director John Clayton, Jr conducted a special tribute to David Marriott, Sr., a champion of music and the arts in general, who passed at the end of April. He was the longest-serving member of the Centrum Board and had deep roots and connections with Port Townsend as well as Seattle. 

Courtesy of Jim Levitt

Making her Pacific Northwest debut, Jazzmeia Horn thrilled a near-capacity crowd in McCurdy Pavilion at Centrum's Jazz Port Townsend in late July. Backed by an all-star group including saxophonist Tim Warfield, pianist Taylor Eigsti, Harish Rhavan on bass and Marcus Baylor on drums, the multi-award winning young singer presented songs ranging from Cole Porter to a Betty Carter classic and two songs of her own.

Jeff Hamilton, Jon Hamar, Tamir Hendelman
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

    

The Jeff Hamilton Trio played a rollicking, spirited and swinging concert at Centrum's Jazz Port Townsend on the last weekend of July.  Playing for a near capacity audience in the 1200 seat McCurdy Pavilion at Fort Worden, the trio had listeners bouncing in their seats for most of the concert, culminating in a standing ovation for an encore. The complete Jazz Port Townsend concert by The Jeff Hamilton Trio will air exclusively on Sunday, August 19 at 2 PM Pacific on 88.5 KNKX and simultaneously stream atKNKX.org

Terell Stafford at Jazz Port Townsend 2018.
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

Trumpet player Terell Stafford led an all-star quintet in concert at Centrum's Jazz Port Townsend in July. The music includes selections by the late trumpet icon Lee Morgan from Terell Stafford's CD "BrotherLee Love" celebrating Lee Morgan.  Tenor saxophonist Tim Warfield, who played on the CD is also on this concert, with pianist Dawn Clement, John Clayton on bass, and Billy Williams at the drums. Terell Stafford heads the Jazz department at Temple University and is a regular in the Vanguard Jazz Orchestras.  

Katie Thiroux and Dave Stryker
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

A series of concerts from Centrum's 2018 Jazz Port Townsend festival will air on Jazz Northwest in the coming weeks. The concerts include seven different jazz ensembles ranging from trio to an 18-piece big band. 

The first concert airing August 5 will feature an all-star trio playing together for the first time at Jazz Port Townsend. The trio includes veteran guitarist Dave Stryker, pianist Justin Kauflin and bassist and singer Katie Thiroux.  All three are recording and touring artists who also lead their own groups.

Alex Dugdale, Max Holmberg, Nancy Erickson, Greg Feingold, Cole Schuster
Dan Lamont

The spontaneity of jazz is best enjoyed in a live performance, and many great jazz records had their genesis in a jazz club or concert. Jazz Northwest frequently records live shows in clubs, concerts and festivals around the Pacific Northwest.   On this week's show, we'll revisit some of those recordings and debut a newly-issued one... Nancy Erickson singing with The 200 Trio and Alex Dugdale at The North City Bistro in Shoreline.

Jim Wilke / KNKX

Having just returned from a week vacationing in Oregon from Astoria to Ashland for the Shakespeare Festival, we were reminded again of the state's beauty, and that brought memories of that quintessential Northwest musical group Oregon formed in 1970 by Ralph Towner, Paul McCandless, Glenn Moore and Collin Walcott.  That's as good an excuse as any to play a couple of their songs on this show.  

Legendary drummer Elvin Jones was special guest in "Jones for Elvin" a 1998 recording session in Seattle led by saxophonist Steve Griggs.  Music from that CD is included in this week's Jazz Northwest as a preview of a performance by the group minus the late drummer at the Royal Room on July 15.  (Milo Peterson will play drums).

Other music on the program includes selections by Cory Weeds & Jeff Hamilton, Bill Ramsay Big Band, The Three Sounds and others.  

This week we sample two of the artists appearing at Centrum's Jazz Port Townsend, guitarist Dave Stryker and trumpet player Terell Stafford who will be featured on the opening concerts on July 27 at Fort Worden.  Debuting on this week's show is Vancouver BC saxophonist Cory Weeds' latest release, an 11 piece band featuring music by Hank Mobley, Kenny Dorham and others arranged by Vancouver arrangers Bill Coon and Jill Townsend.  Also this week, The Jazz Police, Thomas Marriott, The BC Double Quartet and others along with best bets for live jazz in the coming week. 

Dee Daniels and SRJO at Kirkland Performance Center
Courtsey of Jim Levitt

"My Favorite Things" was the title of the concerts ending the 2017-18 season for the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra. Dee Daniels was the featured vocalist in a program including songs made popular by Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, Nat Cole, Marvin Gaye, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. The songs selected by Dee Daniels for this concert represent her varied interests in music and her long career that has taken her to six continents.   

For the first weekend of summer, Jazz Northwest features a collection of resident duos and trios playing music for those lazy summer days and nights.  Songs about flowers, lullabies, and fishing are a few of the highlights, and there's also music by two Lennies (Bernstein and Tristano).  Recent releases by the 200 Trio, Reuel Lubag Trio, duende libre, Hans Teuber & Jeff Johnson, Bill Anschell, Scenes and Dawn Clement are also included.

Jim Wilke / KNKX

This week on Jazz Northwest we feature highlights from Mercedes Nicole’s recent concert at the Seattle Art Museum. The concert was part of the monthly series presented by Earshot Jazz in partnership with the Seattle Art Museum.  Mercedes Nicole sings a selection of songs inspired by some of her favorite singers from Billie Holiday to The Drifters and Gregory Porter. She is accompanied by Craig Hoyer, piano, Rachael Contorer, bass and Larry Vincent Jones on drums. The concert was recorded on June 7 at The Seattle Art Museum.

Phil Sparks and Brian Kirk performing at Conor Byrne Pub.
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

The last set of the opening night Celebration of the Drum at this year's Ballard Jazz Festival is featured this week on Jazz Northwest. The Nu Trio brought considerable soul and energy to cap the night.  Featuring Brian Kirk on drums Nathan Breedlove on trumpet and Phil Sparks on bass, the trio played music by Brian Kirk and modern jazz classics by Booker Little, John Hicks, Mal Waldron, and Woody Shaw.

Paul Gabrielson, Stefan Schatz, Thomas Marriott, Jeremy Bacon at Ballard Jazz Festival
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

Two jazz quartets at the Celebration of the Drum opening the Ballard Jazz Festival last month will be featured this week on Jazz Northwest. Drummer Stefan Schatz leads the first group, with Thomas Marriott, trumpet, Jeremy Bacon, piano and Paul Gabrielson, bass.  Stefan Schatz recently relocated to Seattle from his birthplace in New York City.  They play music by jazz greats Thelonious Monk, Max Roach, Horace Silver, and Clifford Brown.  The second group on this program includes young musicians from Garfield, Cornish College, and the University of Washington.

Jazz Northwest At The Seattle Art Museum
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Two of Seattle's best improvising jazz musicians teamed up for the May Art of Jazz concert at The Seattle Art Museum.  Acoustic bass player Jeff Johnson and saxophone/flute player Hans Teuber have been individually featured in numerous ensembles. They've also collaborated on several albums including the newly issued duo CD "Deuce" on Origin Records.

Darragh Kennan and Hana Lass in an excerpt from "Taming of the Shrew"   (Randy Halberstadt at piano in background)
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

These are unique performances in that they include scenes from Shakespeare interspersed between movements of the Ellington suite. Darragh Kennan and Hana Lass from the Seattle Shakespeare Company are on stage with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra in these performances recorded at the Kirkland Performance Center and the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

Randy Halberstadt (piano), Darragh Kennnan and Hana Lass in the balcony scene
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

Highlights from concert performances of Duke Ellington's "Such Sweet Thunder" are featured this week on Jazz Northwest. These unique performances combine excerpts from Shakespeare's plays with Duke Ellington's musical portraits of the featured characters. Michael Brockman conducts the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra with guest actors from The Seattle Shakespeare Company, Darragh Kennan and Hana Lass.  

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