You've already seen plenty of top-albums lists for the year now past. Tune in to The New Cool this Saturday for my look back with two hours of favorites from 2018. There's plenty of diversity — from piano trios to synthesizers and laptops, retrospective updates and all-star collectives, too. Make a date to spend Saturday afternoon (3-5 p.m.) with some of the most exciting new music of the past 12 months!
Seattle drummer Barrett Martin's Group is performing Saturday night at the Seamonster Lounge, previewing new music the band plans to release this year. His 2018 album Transcendence is a thrilling, rhythmic ride through modern globally-influenced jazz rock. I'm excited to hear a slightly re-arranged line-up and new music from the Group in 2019. This week you'll hear "Speak!" featuring Hans Teuber's saxophone and a big electric guitar sound from Andy Coe.
Coming to town next week, it's keys man Robert Walter's 20th Congress. His new album Spacesuit marks a new direction, moving his cool grooves into more abstract, intergalactic film score vibes. It's an exceptional collection of music, and with McTuff opening for the band at Nectar January 11, I'm expecting one of the top concerts of the young year.
A pair of much-anticipated live dates hit Jazz Alley February 19 and 20, the Seattle debut of The Bad Plus with their new pianist Orrin Evans. His impact was felt, without changing the sound of this iconic modern jazz trio, on the album Never Stop II from last Winter. I'll spin a song called "Hurricane Birds" on the show this week to prepare you for the February shows.
I'm also pleased to welcome the Seattle debut of Parisian pianist Alex Monfort next Thursday night at Tula's, with Seattle-based Michael Glynn and Matt Jorgensen on bass & drums. They'll be live in our studios next Friday afternoon for live performances of Monfort's drive to give a modern energy to the timeless styles of his biggest influences: Bill Evans, Mulgrew Miller, and McCoy Tyner. This week's New Cool includes the swinging title song from his new album Introspection.
Also from the Northwest's amazing modern jazz scene, you'll hear songs from last year's Duende Libre album Drift, and the wildly cool duo Syrinx Effect, co-led by sax player Kate Olson and trombonist Naomi Moon Siegel.
Other major releases on Saturday's show include the massive five-LP collection Heaven and Earth from saxophonist Kamasi Washington, and the all-star effort from R+R=Now, led by the eternally busy keys player/producer/composer Robert Glasper. He joins forces across two LPs with trumpet star Christian Scott aTunde Adjua, Terrace Martin (vocoder/synthesizer), Taylor McFerrin (beatbox/synthesizer), Derrick Hodge (bass) and Justin Tyson (drums). That's quite a crew, and their album Collagically Speaking is simply six of the top musicians in modern jazz getting together to explore some vibes. R+R=Now = very cool, indeed.
On the groovy side, we'll dig into the new release trioKAIT 2 from Kait Dunton's Los Angeles crew. I'm dying to lure them into the KNKX studios in 2019. Also this week, bass legend Stanley Clarke duets with the beatbox vocals of hip hop star Doug E. Fresh from Clarke's forward-thinking album The Message.
Also representing the USA, the trio Soulive returned with the first of hopefully many EPs turning their funky music into vintage film score styles on Cinematics, Vol 1. Back across the pond, you'll hear from the Austrian group Shake Stew's tasty album Rise and Rise Again. One of England's most exciting sax players, Shabaka Hutchings is featured on their tune "Get Up Eight".
The producers get their due this week, as well. Multi-instrumentalist Tim Conley takes the music of Thelonious Monk into the future on the album Thelonious Sphere Monk from his project MAST. Another multi-talented musician/producer, New York-based Jesse Fischer gave us Flipped II. More than covers or remixes, Fischer employs a number of special guests to "flip" classic sounds into modern music for the 21st Century. You're sure to dig his version of the mid-60s Wayne Shorter song "Fall" from his days with Miles Davis, featuring frequent collaborator Sly5thAve (Sylvester Onyejiaka) on a wide range of reed instruments.
It's a packed two hours of hot modern jazz from the year that was, brought to you on The New Cool thanks to the support of dedicated listeners like you. Pass it on in 2019!
The New Cool airs Saturdays from 3 to 5 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Wash.