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Seattle Academy jazz musicians explore soulful grooves with organist Joe Doria

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Six young jazz musicians from the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences explored soulful grooves with their mentor, organist Joe Doria in this KNKX School of Jazz studio session from Avast! Recording Co. in North Seattle.

A pair of previous sessions with the SAAS band have been trios, but band director Stuart MacDonald said the growth of the school has contributed to a growth in the music programs. He did lament that many seniors would be leaving the group in a couple months, including the young men in this all-star group.

In fact, drummer Calvin Lundin is a School of Jazz alumnus having served as a guest DJ and performed a remote pandemic session in the school's Red Combo with mentor Paul Gabrielson on bass. A punk rock-loving teen with dyed yellow hair, Lundin said that "the improvisational aspect, the sense of creativity and the ability to play off of people helps you no matter what kind of music you're playing."

Bassist Eli Poll expressed his excitement over the funky songs they were playing with the Northwest's finest organist in Joe Doria, "this was the first jazz I've played where I could actually slap and pop... I thank you so much for!"

For Doria's part, he didn't have a formal music education until college. He spoke about the importance of building a community of musicians, as learning from other players on the bandstand is still one of the most important ways to develop skills. Doria's late Tuesday residency at the Seamonster Lounge in Wallingford has become a popular place to congregate.

Tenor saxophonist Peter Ratzlaff felt at home in the soulful setting with strong solos, though he's been attracted to the guitar and songwriting as of late. Guitarist Avery Murch was crucial to the rhythm section, which will serve the band well next year.

The two trombone players brought the most character to the SAAS band's sound, a deep and classy edge to the mostly funky performance. Senior Max Chesnutt was in command on the ballad "I Remember Clifford," while Hazel Beaman played thoughtful solos on the up-tempo numbers "The Well's Gone Dry" and "58th Street."

MacDonald told us the band is looking forward to competing at a jazz festival in the California Jazz Championships in Folsom, California at the end of April. Win or lose, the Seattle Academy band is producing more terrific musicians and helping strengthen the artistic community in the region.

Musicians:

  • Joe Doria (mentor) - organ
  • Hazel Beaman - trombone
  • Max Chesnutt - trombone
  • Peter Ratzlaff - tenor saxophone
  • Avery Murch - guitar
  • Eli Poll - bass
  • Calvin Lundin - drums

Songs:

  1. The Well's Gone Dry (Larry Carlton/Crusaders)
  2. I Remember Clifford (Benny Golson)
  3. 58th Street (Bobby Bryant)
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.
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