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A modern jazz invasion: FJK and GoGoPenguin come to Seattle

GoGo Penguin (l-r: Jon Scott, Nick Blacka, Chris Illingworth)
Emily Dennison
GROOV Marketing & Consulting
GoGo Penguin (l-r: Jon Scott, Nick Blacka, Chris Illingworth)

Crossing the Atlantic Ocean and the United States, a pair of top modern jazz acts land in Seattle at the same time.

French multi-instrumentalist and producer Vincent Fenton, known as FKJ (French Kiwi Juice), performed at the Paramount Theatre on Sunday and will next appear at the Showbox SODO on Monday, May 1. English trio GoGo Penguin play the Neptune Theatre May 2.

FKJ is touring in support of his album V I N C E N T from last year. Opening with the gentle, soulfully tinkling piano of "Way Out," FJK adds lush strings, thick electronic beats and dreamy vocals for a soothing musical trip.

This is FKJ's second album and feels more relaxed and confident than the first. Chilled out saxophone solos and intricate piano phrases owe debts to the jazz tradition, but this release gives an overall impression of a new development in easy listening.

Singers Yukimi Nagano from Little Dragon, Toro y Moi and FKJ's wife June Marieezy, known as ((( O ))), bring an experimental pop-soul vibe to three songs. FKJ's own singing is buried in the mix and heavily manipulated to the point of being almost psychedelic. Dancing to this album must be a cheek-to-cheek affair.

FKJ (French Kiwi Juice) is pianist and producer Vincent Fenton.
Jack McKain
Courtesy of the Artist
FKJ (French Kiwi Juice) is pianist and producer Vincent Fenton.

With their new album Everything Is Going To Be OK, GoGo Penguin's post-pandemic return sees pianist Chris Illingworth and bassist Nick Blacka emerging from a difficult period of losses in their families. It also marks the departure of drummer Rob Turner, recently replaced by Jon Scott.

The new album can still be described as an acoustic piano trio playing music influenced by electronica, but this time with more electronic instrumentation. Treated piano and even synthesizer find their way into GoGo Penguin's trademark minimalist melodies.

Blacka's upright bass once again provides most of the improvisational moments, occasionally adding beautiful lines with his bow. Scott's drumming keeps close to the trio's traditionally pulsing rhythms, but with just a hint of sophisticated swing.

Everything Is Going To Be OK also marks a departure from Blue Note Records for, appropriately, the electronic and classical music of the Sony-distributed XXIM label.

That both GoGo Penguin and FKJ find themselves in Seattle over three consecutive nights may be a coincidence. Fans of the electronic edges of modern jazz should make the most of their luck.

The New Cool airs Fridays at 9 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Washington. LISTEN ON DEMAND

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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.