Jazz Northwest | KNKX

Jazz Northwest

Sundays at 2PM

Jazz Northwest focuses on the regional jazz scene from Portland to Vancouver. CDs by the best resident musicians from Seattle, Portland and Vancouver are featured, and the program also includes news about the best places to go for live jazz in the region. In addition, Jim goes "on location" to concerts, clubs and jazz festivals to record performances by resident and visiting artists for playback on Jazz Northwest. These one-of-a-kind recordings are available nowhere else!

Host Jim Wilke is a professional recording engineer and writer in addition to his radio programs which include "Jazz After Hours" on Public Radio International, heard nationwide since 1984.

More great jazz by regional jazz artists is featured this week on Jazz Northwest.  From Frankie's Jazz Club in Vancouver, B.C. to Seattle groups with Ann Reynolds, Kiki Valera, Spokane's Whitworth Jazz Ensemble and former Seattle residents The Westerlies new brass quartet album, and Frank Kohl with Portland's John Stowell, every week we explore the great variety of top jazz artists performing in our region.

Jacqueline Tabor with Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra
Jim Levitt

The iconic American singer Billie Holiday is subject of tribute concerts by the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra and guest vocalist Jacqueline Tabor performed at Kirkland Performance Center and Benaroya Hall in Seattle.

The Westerlies

The Westerlies is a brass quartet including 3 former Seattle residents who formed the group when they were students at Juilliard and the Manhattan School of music. The quartet of two trumpets and two trombones is unusual in jazz, with no rhythm section or chordal instrument. Their repertoire is also unusually wide-ranging, including Americana, 20th century composers such as Bartok and Ives, original music and in their new album, spirituals inspired by the Golden Gate Quartet.

Jimmy Heath
Roger Galloway

The late saxophonist and composer Jimmy Heath appeared in Seattle several times, with The Heath Brothers and with The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra. He was commissioned by the SRJO to compose a suite "The Endless Search" which the orchestra premiered in 2006 at a concert in Benaroya Hall. He returned a year later to make a studio recording of the suite with SRJO.  Parts 2 and 3 of the suites will be featured on today’s episode of Jazz Northwest. 

Michael Glynn, Xavier Lecouturier
Lisa Hagen Glynn Photography

This month's Art of Jazz concert presented by Earshot and The Seattle Art Museum featured exciting new compositions and arrangements for octet by Dylan Hayes and Xavier Lecouturier. The DX-Tet, co-led by Hayes and Lecouturier, played a rich program for four horns, piano, guitar, bass and drums. The co-leaders grew up in the Bay area and have lived in Seattle the last four years while attending Cornish College of the Arts. 

Cuban drummer Ignacio Berroa with SRJO, April 2019
Jim Levitt

Drummer Ignacio Berroa was a guest artist with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra last April, and he returns to join the SRJO Sextet for the inaugural concert of Northwest Music Mondays, presented by KNKX at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley on Jan. 27.

Barcelona-born pianist Marina Albero's ambitious 3 CD album featuring her piano and compositions is among recent releases on this week's episode of Jazz Northwest. Also on this show are Cuban cuatro player Kiki Valera, singers Jenny Davis and Kelley Johnson and Portland pianist Kerry Politzer. We also tap the way back machine for Floyd Standifer with the Local 493 Reunion Band, and Cannonball Adderley at The Penthouse.

Portland-based trumpet player and composer Charlie Porter has composed and recorded an ambitious suite of original music titled "Immigration Nation." The suite takes up an entire CD and is divided into two large sections, "Leaving Home" and "New Beginnings." We'll sample the suite today on Jazz Northwest. 

Also on this week's show are Dave Peterson, Greta Matassa, Cory Weeds Little Big Band and more from a 1962 live aircheck of Johnny Griffin and Lockjaw Davis playing at The Penthouse in Seattle. Best bets for live jazz in the coming week are also included. 

Origin Records

This week's Jazz Northwest features some of our favorite CD releases from 2019 by resident Northwest Jazz artists. Included on the show are selections by Kiki Valera, Xavier Lecouturier, Kelley Johnson, Chuck Deardorf, Marina Albero, and others.  

Jim Wilke

One of the Seattle area's best-known singers, Greta Matassa is featured in concert from the Seattle Art Museum on this episode of Jazz Northwest. Named to the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame and seven times Earshot Vocalist of the Year, Greta Matassa has produced 11 CDs. She tours nationally and has also performed abroad. She sings several songs from her most recent CD "Portrait" on this concert.  

SRJO & chorus at St.Mark's in 2018.
Jim Levitt

Holiday music by regional jazz artists and some highlights from The Sacred Music of Duke Ellington as performed by The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra last year at St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle. The SRJO with chorus and soloists will perform the Ellington Sacred Music again on December 28 this year at Town Hall Seattle. This week's Jazz Northwest also includes seasonal music by Don Lanphere, B3 Kings, Karin Plato, Greta Matassa, Anton Schwartz and Dave Peterson and best bets for live jazz in the coming week.

SRJO in concert at Edmonds Center for the Arts
Jim Levitt

In November concerts, The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra played big band Jazz of the Harlem Renaissance. This is music created by some of the greatest African-American jazz orchestras led by Jimmy Lunceford, Horace Henderson, Fletcher Henderson, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington and others.  It comes from a period in the 1920s and 30s known as The Harlem Renaissance, a great flowering of the arts in Harlem, NYC, including music, poetry, literature, painting, and dance.

Live Seattle radio broadcasts by Johnny Griffin and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis from 1962 provide source material for a new release on the Reel to Real label from Vancouver BC. The broadcasts were part of a long-running weekly radio series featuring major touring jazz artists from the Pioneer Square jazz club. Two complete half-hour broadcasts are presented back to back on the new release "OW!" which was just released on a limited edition double vinyl LP on Record Store Day/Black Friday, and the polycarbonate CD will be released on December 6.

Gilllian Margot at Jazz Port Townsend 2019
Jim Levitt

Singer Gillian Margot and pianist Geoffrey Keezer performed as a duo on the last night of the 2019 Centrum's Jazz Port Townsend and their concert will air on this week’s episode of Jazz Northwest. Together, they performed a selection of songs including some of their original songs as well as popular standards by Jimmy Webb, Michel LeGrand and Stevie Wonder. Gillian Margot and Geoffrey Keezer included some songs from their 2018 album "On My Way To You." Both were on the jazz faculty for the Jazz Workshop preceding Jazz Port Townsend on the last weekend of July each year.

On the eve of what would be her 91st birthday, Ernestine Anderson is remembered with a selection of early, middle and late career recordings this Sunday on Jazz Northwest. In a career spanning more than six decades, she made over 30 albums and received four Grammy nominations. She began in Seattle at Garfield High School with Bumps Blackwell's Youth band which included Quincy Jones and Ray Charles.

Jim Levitt

Tenor sax "battles" have been a tradition in jazz since the late 30s and pairing tenor saxophonists with contrasting styles has continued to the present day. Usually, more of a friendly exchange than a battle per se, two examples recorded in Seattle in 1962 and 2009 are featured on this week's episode of Jazz Northwest.  

Ann Reynolds at Seattle Art Museum
Jim Levitt

Pianist and composer Ann Reynolds has been traveling to Cuba since 2000, engaging with the music, dance, culture and the people. Return trips have fueled her creativity and she has now produced two albums of her original music inspired by her travels. She brought her quintet Clave Gringa to the Art of Jazz series at the Seattle Art Museum this month.

Jay Thomas solos on trumpet with SRJO.
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra opened its 25th anniversary season with concerts in Seattle's Benaroya Hall and the Kirkland Performance Center last weekend. The program in both locations featured music from a 1961 album that brought the Count Basie Orchestra and the Duke Ellington Orchestra together in a recording studio for the first and only time. They shared repertoire and soloists from both bands and many selections recorded that day were performed in these concerts by the SRJO.   

Origin Records

Several new and recent releases from regional jazz artists are featured on this week’s episode of Jazz Northwest.  Kelley Johnson's new CD "Something Good" is her first in more than a decade and it shows a widening and deepening of her voice and repertoire. It's a welcome release from one of the top singers in the Northwest.  Guitarist Dave Peterson is something of a hidden treasure to most non-musicians, but insiders know and cherish his guitar work and his long, open melodic lines.

Thomas Marriott
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

Trumpeter Thomas Marriott has been playing at Tula's for all his professional life. He started there with his brother Dave on trombone when they were in their teens. The Marriotts represent an entire generation of Seattle musicians who have been regulars on stage at Tula's for more than two decades. Sadly, Tula's closes after 26 years at the end of this month, another victim of gentrification and high rents. Most of the one-story block in Belltown will be demolished for a new high-rise building.   

Jim Wilke

Singer Jacqueline Tabor, named Earshot Vocalist of the year for 2018, was accompanied by a quartet including Michael Brockman on saxophone, John Hansen on piano, Clipper Anderson on bass and D'Vonne Lewis playing the drums. Songs performed ranged from well-known standards to several more obscure songs and the title song from her most recent CD, "The Lady In The Gown."

Terell Stafford solos on flugelhorn, John Clayton conducts the Centrum Big Band
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

John Clayton, Artistic Director of Jazz Port Townsend, leads a specially assembled big band in concert on this week’s episode of Jazz Northwest. The all-star big band is an annual feature of the festival which celebrated its 45th year in July. Featured soloists from this performance include Jeff Hamilton, Terell Stafford, René Marie, Gerald Clayton and Akiko Tsuruga. 

Michael Mayo at Jazz Port Townsend 2019
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

Vocalist Michael Mayo won many new fans with his performance at the 2019 Jazz Port Townsend. His wide-ranging flexible voice was surprisingly supple and expressive in a program mostly given to the popular standards songbook, with the exception of the opening original song, in which he used loops and effects building to a choral effect in a solo performance. In the balance of the concert, he enjoyed all-star backing from Geoffrey Keezer (piano), Graham Dechter (guitar), Vicente Archer (bass) and Obed Callvaire (drums).

Ernie Watts
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

LA tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts and Seattle's New Stories Trio were reunited at the 2019 Ballard Jazz Festival on the mainstage at the National Nordic Museum. 

Painting by Norah Johnston

Two musicians in a room invites interaction, introspection and interplay. Such is the case in an intimate duo recorded in a quiet room in a private home in Vancouver, B.C. last December. Edmonton alto saxophonist and bi-coastal pianist Bill Mays recorded this CD after playing four concerts last December. We'll hear them play two songs on this episode of Jazz Northwest.  


George Cables, Chuck Deardorf, Terell Stafford, Matt Wilson, Marquis Hill at Jazz Port Townsend 2019
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

Two great trumpet players were featured together at Jazz Port Townsend this summer. Terell Stafford and Marquis Hill traded brilliant solos during a matinee concert in McCurdy Pavilion at Fort Worden during this year’s festival. With George Cables at the piano, Chuck Deardorf on bass and Matt Wilson at the drums, the quintet generated a lot of excitement for a near-capacity crowd. 


Equal Time features Akiko Tsuruga, Jeff Hamilton and Graham Dechter. They performed at Centrum's 2019 Jazz Port Townsend.
Jim Levitt

Equal Time is an organ trio in the classic style that emerged in the 60s. All three are leaders of their own groups and equal partners in the present trio. They all compose and arrange and take turns introducing the tunes as in this performance recorded in McCurdy Pavilion at Fort Worden during Centrum's Jazz Port Townsend in July.  

Marçello Goncalves and Anat Cohen at Jazz Port Townsend
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

The first in a series of broadcast concerts from Centrum's Jazz Port Townsend will air on this episode of Jazz Northwest. The opening Friday evening concert of the 45th annual festival features the duo of clarinetist Anat Cohen and seven string guitarist Marçello Goncalves, recorded in McCurdy Pavilion at Fort Worden.


George Cables at Jazz Port Townsend, 2018
Courtesy of Jim Levitt

Summer afternoons seem made for jazz, hot and cool. For people heading home after Jazz Port Townsend, we lead off this Sunday's show with a festival favorite, George Cables. Although he's a native New Yorker, he's played at Port Townsend so many summers we've begun to think of him as a local piano hero, at least in July!

We're in the middle of summer jazz festival season. Outdoor concerts are going on around the country including Seattle and Tacoma. Jazz in The Valley (Ellensburg) and Jazz Port Townsend July 25-27 welcome audiences next week. Today Jazz Northwest, we're planning a breezy, lyrical, songful selection of music that will highlight a new CD by Vancouver saxophonist Mike Allen, songs sung by Greta Matassa, Elena Maque and Karin Plato, plus Larry Fuller who returns to Seattle later this month, and Northwest favorites Jay Thomas and Randy Halberstadt.

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