Jazz and Blues | KNKX

Jazz and Blues

News about jazz, blues, Studio Sessions, and music samplings from jazz artists in the northwest and around the world.

Martin Luther King Jr. speaks at a Selma, Ala., church in this January 1965 photo.
The Associated Press

Martin Luther King Jr. was a jazz fan who wrote eloquently about the music he loved, as well as how jazz and the artists who created it influenced and shaped the dialogue of the civil rights movement. We celebrate King’s life on Monday with a special program dedicated to his appreciation for and influence on the genre.

Brandon Jernigan photography (TheBeautifulSounds.com)

Tom Misch describes himself first and foremost as a beat maker. His musical development began on the humble fiddle, next to the guitar, which he plays prominently in live performances. Misch's 2018 debut album Geography blends both his digital and acoustic expertise, with impressive results.

Pianist André Mehmari, reflected
Anita Kalikies / courtesy of the artist

The Brazilian pianist and composer André Mehmari brings his trio to the Pacific Northwest for the first time next week for shows in Portland, Seattle and Bellevue.  I'm grateful that I was able to catch a phone interview with this truly brilliant musician.

James Hunter Six

Jan 18, 2019




Aretha Franklin performs at the NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE on Wednesday July 25, 2012, in Los Angeles.
Chris Pizzello / Invision/AP

We may have left 2018 behind, but we will always remember the musical greats we lost last year. John Kessler marked the end of the year with a two-hour special honoring the lives of those artists. (This show originally aired Dec. 29, 2018.)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. locks arms with his aides as he leads a march of several thousands to the court house in Montgomery, Ala., March 17, 1965. From left: Rev. Ralph Abernathy, James Foreman, King, Jesse Douglas, Sr., and John Lewis (partially out
The Associated Press

Music was an essential part of the civil rights movement. This weekend, KNKX’s John Kessler will host a special hourlong program highlighting the most important songs of the era, as well as the milestones they marked.

Kenji Wagner plyaing trumpet in the KNKX Seattle stuidos.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Asked about learning jazz in the red-hot Northwest scene, Interlake High School junior Kenji Wagner told us the best part is sharing jazz with the community of teenage musicians he encounters.

Tom Collins

KNKX presented its 22nd Holiday Jam and Live Broadcast on last month at the Historic Capitol Theater in Olympia, continuing the tradition of bringing yuletide cheer to the Northwest and showcasing some of the area's best student and regional jazz musicians. The concert was hosted by Abe Beeson and broadcast live on KNKX.

We had some wonderful guest student DJs from all over the region in 2018. For our first student DJ hour of 2019, which aired Jan. 3, Evening Jazz host Abe Beeson compiled 11 songs that appeared on student DJ playlists from last year.   

The New Cool: Favorites of 2018

Jan 4, 2019
Abe Beeson

You've already seen plenty of top-albums lists for the year now past. Tune in to The New Cool this Saturday for my look back with two hours of favorites from 2018. There's plenty of diversity — from piano trios to synthesizers and laptops, retrospective updates and all-star collectives, too. Make a date to spend Saturday afternoon (3-5 p.m.) with some of the most exciting new music of the past 12 months!

Percussionist Mayra Casales at Chicago's Auditorium Theater, 2016
Vernon Hester / Windy City Times/windycitymediagroup.com

Mayra Casales is recognized as a powerful and versatile percussionist, and she's certainly done her share of advocating for women in music. Let's get to know our Jazz Caliente Rhythm Maker No. 14!

With kind permission of Amy & Delvon.

Delvon Lamarr and his wife/manager Amy Novo are packing up the Hammond organ and moving to Austin, Texas, to begin a new direction on their musical journey. After a sparkling live performance in the KNKX studios, the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio celebrates New Year's Eve at the Triple Door before the big move in a couple of weeks. I asked them to write a fond farewell note, a "love letter" to their friends and fans in the Northwest. They were only too happy to oblige.

Daymé Arocena in concert in Havana, Cuba 2016
Diane Guerra / courtesy of the artist

At the very top of your New Year's resolution list, write this: See more live music performances! The Seattle-area live Latin jazz forecast for the first quarter of 2019 is impressive. Here's what we know so far.

Used with kind permission of Amy & Delvon.

Delvon Lamarr and his wife/manager Amy Novo are packing up the Hammond organ and moving to Austin, Texas, to begin a new stage in their musical journey. After a sparkling live performance in the KNKX studios, the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio celebrates New Year's Eve at the Triple Door before packing and preparing for the move. I asked them to write a fond farewell note, a "love letter" to their friends and fans in the Northwest. They were only too happy to oblige.

All Blues host John Kessler recently released his annual top 10 list of blues albums. He sat down with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick to discuss the music — a mix of old and new sounds. Listen to their chat and some of the tunes now.

The New Cool: Get Grooving for Christmas

Dec 21, 2018
Album cover from Fog City Records, San Francisco.

Merry Christmas to you, New Cool listener! Santa has dropped off a few modern jazz Christmas tunes for The New Cool this week, so tune in and enjoy as you scramble to finish all your pre-Christmas shopping, wrapping, cooking and (hopefully) relaxing.

Saxophonist Sonny Rollins in undated performance
Veryl Oakland

Details of the seemingly charmed life of an international jazz star. Memories of the rough-and-tumble heyday of Chicago blues, and the tiny independent record labels that nurtured it. A collection of exquisite moments in the lives and performances of some of the jazz greats, captured in real light. 

There's a new book for every jazz and blues enthusiast this year.

Michael Goude - Vibe Vision Seattle

A pair of Seattle-grown modern jazz outfits return to the KNKX studios for live sessions next week. One group is marking a departure from the Northwest, the other is celebrating a holiday return.

In this Oct. 28, 2007 file photo, Nancy Wilson, left, and Terence Blanchard, right, perform during an all-star tribute concert for Herbie Hancock, in Los Angeles. Grammy-winning jazz and pop singer Wilson has died at age 81.
Rene Macura / The Association Press

Nancy Wilson, the Grammy-winning “song stylist” and torch singer whose polished pop-jazz vocals made her a platinum artist and top concert performer, has died.

Grammy nominee Elio Villafranca in the studio
Kasia Idzkowska / courtesy of the artist

The 2019 Grammy nominees were announced last Friday.  I will feature some of the nominees for the "Best Latin Jazz Album" category this week on Saturday Jazz Caliente.  Here's a Jazz Caliente video extravaganza to help introduce you to these outstanding artists:

The New Cool: Shabaka Hutchings Revisited

Dec 7, 2018
Cover photo by Sergio Aparicio (Okobé)

One of London's hottest young jazz musicians, Shabaka Hutchings isn't big on self-promotion. He's appeared on around 50 releases over the past decade, but only one album under his own name - Shabaka and the Ancestors from 2016. He continues the pattern on a wild new album from the trio 1000 Kings.

Abe Beeson / KNKX

Saxophone player Noah Barr and trumpet player Rafael de Ocampo — juniors from Redmond High School — graced the KNKX studios Dec. 6 as guest DJs for the evening. Listen to the show and read a Q&A with Barr. 

Our holiday tradition continues. All Blues host John Kessler shares his top 10 blues albums the year. See which artists made the cut below, and listen to All Blues every Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m.

KNKX jazz host Abe Beeson hosted a recorded studio session with three dynamic combos at Jazz Port Townsend 2018.  The two trios and a quintet were there attending Centrum's 44th annual jazz workshop, experiencing a week filled with living and learning under the tutelage of some of the finest jazz musicians in the world.  The workshop is open to all ages of participants. 

The New Cool: Stanley Clarke's New Bass Grooves

Nov 30, 2018
Photo by Raj Naik, with kind permission of the artist.

The three pioneers of the electric bass in jazz have been making great records recently. You've been hearing the latest from Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten on KNKX, and on this week's New Cool I've got the new album from Stanley Clarke. It's a ferocious young band, filled with plenty of Clarke's trademark low end grooves.

Poster for Cuban Chemistry
Kiki Valera and Coco Freeman photos by Raul Campoverde, Carlos Cascante photo courtesy of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra

Cuban Chemistry will sizzle at Seattle's Century Ballroom Saturday night, December 8.  The musical chemistry between Cuban cuatro master Kiki Valera, popular Cuban vocalist Coco Freeman, and award-winning vocalist and songwriter Carlos Cascante will be impossible to resist, and there will even be a dance lesson before the show, in case you need to brush up on your fancy steps.

'Tis the season!  This year's KNKX Holiday Jam Concert and Live Broadcast will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 7-8 p.m in a new location — the Historic Capitol Theater in downtown Olympia.