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Bad News Botanists Cultivate Funky Live Fun

Frank Vitolo of Bad News Botanists live at KNKX Public Radio.
Parker Miles Blohm
Frank Vitolo of Bad News Botanists

Enjoying a year that has brought his band a lot of positive attention, saxophonist Frank Vitolo brought his Bad News Botanists to our studios for a fun session of original funky jazz. It was a preview of their performance on The New Cool stage at the Northwest Folklife Festival, and more proof that this band is making its mark.

Powered by a solid grooving rhythm section of drummer Heather Thomas and bassist Marina Christopher, who just won the Golden Ear award for Emerging Artist of the Year. The two studied jazz together at Central Washington University, and their musical connection is one of the band's biggest strengths.

Vitolo's compositions are the draw, though. From their Golden Ear nominated debut album Venomous Nightshade, the band played a pair of complex and catchy originals. "Snake Eyes" and "Tie Dye Jam" both dazzled our studio session audience with shifting tempos and smart arrangements, allowing for solo room for each player to show off their chops.

A surprise finisher was a new song, "One Step Forward, Two Steps Back," which let this band's growing fan base know they've got more great music ready for harvest.

The Bad News Botanists' line up of sax, trombone and guitar with electric keys, bass and in the pocket drumming is reminiscent of the legendary 70s group The Crusaders, and also conjures memories of the combos in James Brown's horn section.

You'll hear influences from those bands, but this Seattle group is growing their own tasty garden of funk-jazz grooves. KNKX is proud to share their musical bounty.

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.