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.


Photo by Carisa Lolmaugh

Lifelong love for local musicians has always meant expanding one's definition of "Northwest," and I'm happy to push the boundaries of our scene to Portland to call Cloud Six our neighbors. With their self-titled debut release out last fall, the muscular horn-driven sextet shows that the Rose City's musical reputation holds strong.


  • Release Date: Friday, May 3
  • Select Theatres, Seattle


Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

After nearly two decades leading the bands at Timberline High School in Lacey, Cal Anderson knows he has some special players on his hands now. Performing three varied standards in the KNKX studios, these five young men impressed our audience and their mentor, Andy Omdahl.

James Carter is set to perform Saturday night at the Pantages Theater in Tacoma.
Monica Morgan / Courtesy of American International Artists

Multi-instrumentalist James Carter performs with Symphony Tacoma this Saturday evening, April 20, at the Pantages Theater in Tacoma. "Saxophone Fusion" presents compositions derived from diverse cultures that feature the luscious sounds of the saxophone with the rich harmonies of the orchestra. 

Design by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AXS).

Spring is flowering, and The New Cool looks ahead to summer as ticket sales begin today for what's sure to be the biggest jazz event of the year. Lifelong musical innovator Herbie Hancock is co-headlining a tour with one of the hottest new voices in jazz today, saxophonist Kamasi Washington. The 10-date (so far) tour brings them to Marymoor Park in Redmond on Aug. 16, and you can expect that tickets will be gone long before then.

Pianist/composer Ann Reynolds enjoying the movement of Cuban jazz
Steve Korn

Ann Reynolds' second Clave Gringa CD, Joy, will be celebrated at a release party at the Royal Room in Seattle on Sunday, April 21.

Ann and I recently chatted about her fascination with Cuban music, and about the new album, part of which was recorded in Cuba with Cuban musicians. 

We were so please to have the Mercer Island High School Combo for a School Of Jazz studio performance. Not only did they play some challenging works – they were also able to let us on their musical influences as well as why they love jazz.  Band teacher Brian Lawrence described how he chose the tunes for the session.  You can catch Dan Marcus preforming with EntreMundos and well as coaching the Seattle Youth Symphony.  


Trumpet: Brennan Tien

Trumpet: Justin Lesko

Alto Saxophone: Cindy Huang

Piano: Harry Brown

Bass: Grady Short

The New Cool: Hailing the female future of jazz

Apr 5, 2019
"I believe the (female) children are our future....
Parker Miles Blohm/KNKX

This week, Seattle JazzED's Girls Ellington Project makes jazz history. They became the first all-female band to compete in a national high school jazz competition, one of just 12 groups invited to the Savannah Music Festival's Swing Central Jazz Competition. The battle of these teenage bands took place earlier this morning, and the Girls Ellington Project made all of us proud, despite missing out on the finals. And they reminded us that the future of jazz is, slowly, becoming more and more female.

Drummer Ignacio Berroa
courtesy of the artist

The foremost authority on Afro-Cuban jazz drumming will appear with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra for three concerts next week. If you're quick, you might be able to pick up the last few remaining tickets.

Let's get to know Havana-born Ignacio Berroa!


Alto saxophonist Natalie Whitlock will join Abe Beeson tonight (April 4)  at 8 p.m. as guest DJ. She is a senior and plays in the jazz band at Edmonds Woodway High School. Listen to the show and read her Q&A and playlist.  

Abe Beeson

Drummer, composer, band leader Barrett Martin returns with a new CD this spring. The worldwide release date for Songs of the Firebird is May 10. The official release show, in conjunction with the release of Martin's new book of short stories, "The Way of the Zen Cowboy," is June 1 at the Royal Room. You'll hear the world broadcast premier — of the CD, not the book — coming up Saturday on The New Cool.

Pianist, educator and social activist Danilo Pérez
photo courtesy of the artist / Mack Avenue Records/Danilo Pérez

The prolific pianist, educator and social activist Danilo Pérez will be appearing with the University of Puget Sound Jazz Orchestra on Friday, April 5.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The all-star jazz ensemble from Monroe High School, calling themselves Kelsey and the Boys, showed their love of jazz in the KNKX studios. The session provided a good reminder that as the Northwest grows, the once-small-town of Monroe is growing an impressive jazz program.

Artwork by Jason Deamer

Karl Denson brings his saxophone, flute and powerful voice back to Seattle for two nights at Nectar Lounge in Fremont March 20 and 21 to celebrate his brand new album Gnomes and Badgers. I spoke to him earlier this week about his first album in five years, and his varied career working with Lenny Kravitz, The Rolling Stones, Seattle's sax hero Skerik, and a surreal day with Eddie Murphy.

Seckou Keita and Omar Sosa
Alicia Carrera / courtesy of the artist

Here are the Jazz Caliente recommendations for live music this week that you should not miss!

In the Blue Note recording studio, L to R:  Herbie Hancock, Marcus Strickland, Wayne Shorter, Ambrose Akinmusire
Mira Films

Jewish immigrants Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff fled Germany in the 1930s, escaping Nazi persecution.  The childhood friends shared a love of jazz, and together they slowly built an American recording company that became known for its integrity, fairness and nurturing of artists. 

This audio and video feast celebrates the 80-year history of the iconic label that laid claim to presenting “The Finest in Jazz,” Blue Note Records.

Parker Miles Blohm/KNKX

It's fund drive time at KNKX, so take this opportunity to support the jazz, blues, NPR and Northwest news you love by chipping in whatever you can at knkx.org or 877-NPR-KNKX (677-5758) right now. Saturday afternoon 3-6 p.m., I'll be teaming up with Robin Lloyd to encourage your pledge to The New Cool and Jazz Caliente. I also have some big news to announce regarding The New Cool at this year's Folklife Festival, running May 24-27 at Seattle Center.

A bee flies towards a blooming crocus in a public garden
Focke Strangmann / APN

Muchas gracias, obrigado, and thank you!  Listener support has allowed Jazz Caliente to blossom and grow on KNKX.  Fund drive time is here, and you can be part of the spring renewal with your gift today at knkx.org or 877-NPR-KNKX (677-5659).

Abe Beeson / KNKX

Bass player Bridget Shelton from Bainbridge High School will take over our KNKX studios as guest DJ at 8 p.m. tonight (March 7). Listen to the show and read her Q&A and playlist. 

The New Cool: Talking with the SmackTalk horns

Mar 1, 2019
Photo by Seth Halleran, inspiration by good ol Norman Rockwell

During this winter's "snowpocalypse," I traded emailed questions for answers with Sidney Hauser and Natalie Barry, sax players and driving forces behind Seattle's modern jazz combo SmackTalk, about their new five-song release. Servin' It Hot is available digitally on March 7, and the release party is that night at Conor Byrne in Ballard.

Performer from Paraíso do Tuiuti Samba School in competition in Rio de Janeiro, 2018
Fat Press / LIESA

March 2019 is going to be an extraordinary month for live music, with performances by local favorites and internationally renowned masters of Brazilian and Afro-Cuban jazz. Here's the update, and a peek beyond March, too. Click on the links for details and ticket information.

The New Cool: Kassa Overall talks teamwork

Feb 22, 2019
Album cover artwork by Jesse Brown

Drummer, composer and producer Kassa Overall released his debut album, Go Get Ice Cream and Listen to Jazz in January to excited reaction. The New York Times called it "one of the few genuine-sounding, full-scope amalgams of contemporary hip-hop and jazz to surface in recent years." The Seattle native, now based in New York City, is especially excited to share his new music with his hometown, and you'll hear a song from the album on The New Cool this Saturday.

Eric Ryan Anderson

One of today's leaders in modern jazz fusion returns to the Northwest for shows in Seattle and Portland next week. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah brings his bent trumpet to Nectar Lounge Tuesday night, before opening the Portland Jazz Festival at the Star Theater Feb. 20. That show is already sold out.


From Temple University Jazz Bazz in Philadelphia, freshman Preston Lee took over the eight o' clock hour on Feb. 7 as guest DJ at our KNKX studios. Listen to the show and read his playlist. 

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

The 61st Grammy Awards show is this Sunday at 5 p.m. We'll revisit 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:

Abe Beeson

Best known for his nearly two decades with the modern jazz fusion group Kneebody, Ben Wendel explored the endless possibilities of the duet format with 12 videos released in 2015 featuring 12 different collaborators from across the wide jazz spectrum. I spoke to Wendel recently about his career, his many young fans, and this diverse recent project, The Seasons, just released in CD and vinyl formats as performed by Wendel in a quintet setting.

Trumpeter Pete Rodriguez, son of salsero Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez
©Hannah Neal / courtesy of the artist

Musical genius seems like it could be a genetic trait. It's so often passed down through successive generations. That's certainly true in Latin jazz, and we'll hear from members of musical families this week on Saturday's Jazz Caliente.

Parker Miles Blohm

Whether you prefer planes, trains or automobiles, a trip to Portland is always a good idea. That's especially true when the Rose City presents its annual jazz festival, and I'm excited to highlight a few modern jazz concerts that New Cool fans will love. KNKX will make the trip with a group of listeners for the first weekend, find more information on that amazing package here.