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Bellevue High School sextet performs with Thomas Marriott

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After a four year absence from the KNKX School of Jazz, Bellevue High School's jazz band returned to the KNKX studios with an eager sextet blowing through four great tunes with their mentor, trumpeter Thomas Marriott.

The band's director, Edd George explained that he and his colleague Will Harvey continued to meet with the jazz band despite a loss of funding for the class during the second year of the pandemic.

"I think that really helped us coming back from the pandemic when we were able to be back in person, we really enjoyed being in the same room and playing and making music again," George said.

Before the performance, Marriott said that he was surprised by the complexity of the band's song choices. He suggested skipping Joe Henderson's tricky "Serenity", but tenor saxophonist Kaiden Uyeda and the rhythm section began their session with the song.

No problem. The musicians were at ease with the composition and swung through strong solos from pianist Roman Goron and bassist Dennis McIntyre, both Bellevue High School seniors.

For Marriott's own composition, "Both Sides of the Fence," alto saxophonist Ajay Karunakaran and trumpeter Noah Kim joined their mentor to complete lineup. Both of them traded solos with drummer Axel Peterson on this hard driving bop tune.

For the Ellington blues "Things Ain't What They Used To Be," ensemble horns emulated a big band sound before opening up for impressive extended solos from the horns of Uyeda and Marriott.

Closing with the hard bop standard "Invitation," Goron's piano solo lit up the KNKX studios and egged Marriott into a bright trumpet solo before passing to McIntyre's energetic bass solo. All the time Peterson kept the pace with confidence and style behind the drum kit. He's sure to be an important leader for the band this year and next.

Marriott is a key jazz community organizer and jam session leader in Seattle. He told us some of the band members are already making their way onto stages with the scene's top players. He shared: "It is a little bit of a struggle to play this music. When you are surrounded by others doing the same, it gives you confidence and strength to carry on."

Moving through the pandemic, the musicians of the Bellevue High School jazz band have the confidence. And together, they're moving onward with enthusiasm and love for music that will take them far.

Musicians:

  • Noah Kim - trumpet
  • Ajay Karunakaran - alto saxophone
  • Kaiden Uyeda - tenor saxophone
  • Roman Goron - piano
  • Dennis McIntyre - bass
  • Axel Peterson - drums
  • Thomas Marriott (mentor) - trumpet

Songs:

  1. Serenity
  2. Both Sides of the Fence
  3. Things Ain't What They Used To Be
  4. Invitation
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.