Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Public Radio Music Day with The Headhunters at KNKX

In celebration of Public Radio Music Day, KNKX presented an exclusive studio session from jazz fusion pioneers The Headhunters. This session took place just before the band released their first album in 11 years, Speakers in the House, adding a decidedly New Orleans flavor to their trademark funk grooves.

The KNKX studios were filled with love, but also uncertainty as founding member Bill Summers sat behind his congas striving to teach the band his rhythmically complex song "Stop Watch." The band recently started their tour and were still polishing up music they'd recorded a couple years earlier. Summers got a little flustered, but this band of all-star musicians finally pulled it off, and the percussionist's face beamed with a bright smile of satisfaction.

Saxophonist Donald Harrison joined the band around the time of their 2003 album Evolution Revolution. As a Mardi Gras Indian Chief, Harrison's influence is felt on Speakers in the House, as nearly all the band members are now based in New Orleans. The sounds of the country's first cultural melting pot and birthplace of jazz are a natural evolution for the band whose globally inspired rhythm section has driven The Headhunters since their founding.

Primarily performing without co-founder Herbie Hancock since the mid-70s, The Headhunters are led by percussionist Summers and drummer Mike Clark, who joined for their second album Thrust in 1974. In this session, The Headhunters played "Actual Proof" and Hancock's classic "Watermelon Man" from that 1976 album, plus a pair of new songs. This is a band firmly rooted in jazz tradition, but always pushing the music forward.

Joined by New Orleans stars Chris Severin on bass and Kyle Roussel on piano and keyboards, The Headhunters filled the KNKX studios with dynamic, complex music aimed at the primal goal of getting an audience moving. Enjoy this exclusive Public Radio Music Day performance from this world class quintet, it's sure to move you, too.


  • Donald Harrison - alto saxophone
  • Bill Summers - percussion
  • Mike Clark - drums
  • Kyle Roussel - piano and keyboard
  • Chris Severin - bass


  1. Stop Watch
  2. Actual Proof
  3. Rocking at the Mole House
  4. Watermelon Man
Studio Sessions The HeadhuntersDonald HarrisonMike ClarkBill SummersKyle RousselChris Severin
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.
Related Stories