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Jacob Szekely's New Frontiers In Jazz Cello

Jacob Szekely in the KNKX Studios
Parker Miles Blohm
Jacob Szekely in the KNKX Studios

He's not just a terrific player and songwriter, cellist Jacob Szekely is blazing a path for future jazz cellists to follow. With his trio live in our studios, it's clear that his instrument is ready for the jazz spotlight.

Szekely told us that the traditional way of learning cello makes it nearly impossible to translate those skills to improvisation, so he retrained himself to play in a new way. He's also co-founded the String Project of Los Angeles to give other cellists a fresh direction in their musical expression.

The history of strings in jazz is almost entirely based in swing music, from violinists Stephane Grappelli to Jean-Luc Ponty, but Szekely enjoys soulful modern funk beats. It's another way to move his cello into the world of modern jazz.

Though amplification of string instruments is not new, Szekely has found improvements to be made in this field as well. He's developed, a comprehensive library of every pickup on the market so string players can find the equipment that sounds best to them.

Aside from advancements in technology and technique, Jacob Szekely is making some fantastic music. It's modern and forward thinking, utilizing amplification and a few choice effects pedals, and it owes a lot to the talent of his musical partners.

Mahesh Balasooriya, who debuted in the KNKX studios with Arturo Sandoval's band in 2012, dazzled our audience on acoustic and electric keys. Drummer Matt Lesser was no shrinking flower, sticks dancing all over his kit, his rhythms in constant communication with his two partners.

A new album is due this summer from the Jacob Szekely Trio, and it's sure to be an exciting moment for expanding the sounds of his instrument and the sounds of jazz.

Studio Sessions Live Studio Sessions
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.