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Since 2005, KNKX's School of Jazz has provided mentorship, learning and performance opportunities to Western Washington middle school, high school and college jazz students. A cornerstone of the station's signature community outreach program, it has directly impacted thousands of jazz students, band directors and professional musicians. School of Jazz is sponsored by BECU.

School Of Jazz: Mercer Island High School Jazz Sextet With Special Guest Jay Thomas

In 2015 the ongoing KPLU School Of Jazz program expanded its opportunities for high school jazz bands by beginning to feature them in our series of live Studio Sessions from our Seattle studios. The first group is this sextet from the Mercer Island High School Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Mr. David Bentley.  

The group consists of Dylan Lesko (drums), Max Van Gelder (bass), Eric Westergard (piano), Tynan McGee (trombone), Shea Kelsay (trumpet), Riley Fang (tenor sax) and their mentor, Jay Thomas.  Thomas is a Northwest jazz veteran and multi-instrumentalist  who has played all over the world.  

Together, this band played amazingly tight arrangements of "Dearly Beloved," "Step Lightly" and "Tonk."  Between songs, host Abe Beeson talks to Jay about what it’s like to work with these talented young players, and the students talk about their relationship to jazz and their hopes for the future.


  1. "Dearly Beloved"
  2. "Step Lightly"
  3. "Tonk"

You can also find our Studio Sessions available as a video podcast in iTunes.