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.

Seattle's Bad News Botanists.
Photo by Shahaan Smith https://www.instagram.com/haanphoto/?hl=en

The landscape of talented jazz musicians in the Pacific Northwest continues to bloom, despite an especially wet January threatening to wash us all away. Take a look at the nominees for this year’s Earshot Golden Ear Awards and you’ll see the name Bad News Botanists and those of two band members, a solid indication that this band’s time has come.

Trombonist Doug Beavers whose latest CD "The Art of the Arrangement" got a Grammy nomination this year
Silas Green / courtesy of the artist

There was more Latin Jazz nominated for Grammys this year than you might have realized.  A couple of nominees went overlooked, because they were nominated in categories other than Latin Jazz.

Reda Kateb as Django Reinhardt in the 2017 French film "Django"
uniFrance Films

As part of their Tuesday Film Series, Tacoma's Grand Cinema will be showing  Django on February 6. 

No, definitely not the one with cowboy hats and six-shooters. This beautifully constructed French film directed by Etienne Comar is about the legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.

Grammy Nominees Anat Cohen and Marcello Gonçalves
Shervin Lainez / courtesy of the artist

The 60th Annual Grammy Awards show will be televised on Sunday January 28, at 4:30pm Pacific Time.  This week on Saturday Jazz Caliente, we'll feature the nominees for Best Latin Jazz Album, a nice selection this year spanning Brazilian, Cuban, Puerto Rican and Argentinian jazz.

The New Cool: Kraken Quartet Keeps the Beats

Jan 19, 2018
Evan Monroe Chapman/Four/Ten Media

The four drummers of The Kraken Quartet studied their instruments together at Ithaca College, but few expected the rhythm section to evolve into their own band. Now based in Austin, Texas, their 2017 debut release Separate / Migrate is bringing the four well-deserved attention.

Daymé Arocena at the New Era concert in Havana, 2016
Denise Guerra / courtesy of the artist

No, it's not another story about immigration policy. 

Starting next week, Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle will be hosting some of the brightest stars in today's Cuban music.  Here's a preview.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Atlanta, GA 1966
Anonymous / AP

On the day we celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., let's revisit his thoughts on Jazz and Blues from his address to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival:

The New Cool: A Saxman Raises His Voice

Jan 12, 2018
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

When I first met Braxton Cook, he was playing saxophone with the amazing trumpeter Christian Scott's band, live in our studios in the Fall of 2015. There was something intangible I noticed, maybe just his gregarious personality, but I knew there was more to be heard from Mr. Cook. How much more is a pleasant surprise.

Samuel Torres at Brooklyn Studio Loft 360
Emra Islek / courtesy of the artist

According to Nolan Warden, whose well-researched article "The History of the Conga Drum" appeared in the February 2005 edition of Percussive Notes (a publication of the Percussive Arts Society):  what North Americans call conga drums are actually "tumbadoras." 

The New Cool: Favorites of 2017

Jan 5, 2018
Abe Beeson

I'm not crazy about "best of" lists. Who could possibly listen to enough music to produce an objective list of the best recordings in a year? I prefer to list "favorites", and on this week's New Cool, you'll hear two hours of Abe Beeson's favorite modern jazz from 2017. I hope you enjoy it as much as I will!

Tiempo Libre's latest album, Panamericano (2015)
courtesy of the artists / Universal Music LLC

It's a brand new year, and opportunities to hear live Latin Jazz and related music abound in our region.  Listed here are some  upcoming shows you'll want to put on your calendar.  Click on the links for more information.

Abe Beeson/KNKX

Seventeen year-old Marianna (Anna) Aptacy attends Bellevue High School.  She shares an hour of her favorite jazz Thursday, January 4 from 8-9 p.m. on KNKX's Evening Jazz with Abe Beeson.

Jim Sisko performs with students from Bothell High School.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

From their perch in the suburbs, just northeast of Seattle, the jazz program at Bothell High School is producing some powerhouse musicians. This all-star ensemble’s performance with mentor Jim Sisko was a bold statement that these teens can keep up with anybody.

The front line horns of Richard Connelley's trombone and Preston Lee's sax have earned valuable experience working with Sisko's big band, and they showed it. Both took daring solos and pushed each song with their enthusiasm.

The New Cool: Happy New Cool Year!

Dec 29, 2017
Abe Beeson

Paul Carlson subs for Abe Beeson this week. You can preview the playlist here. Happy New Year, everyone!

Manuel Galbán playing with The Buena Vista Social Club, 2006
Bryan Ledgard

Ry Cooder called him a guitar wizard.

Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote in 2003:  “Mr. Galbán was one of the wonders of Cuban music in the 1960s.  His playing pulled together two almost contradictory approaches: the floating reverb of surf guitar and the percussive, snapping sound of the tres, the small guitar that’s a fulcrum between rhythm and melody in Cuban son groups.”

Abe Beeson

Though each member of Industrial Revelation are in high demand these days, they always find time to get together to make music. As they prepared for their first headlining show at the Neptune Theatre last week, the band told me how excited they were to unleash new music in the new year.

Olympia-based vocalist LaVon Hardison performing at the 2017 KNKX Holiday Jam.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

KNKX presented its 21st Annual Holiday Jam on Monday, December 4 at Edmonds Center for the Arts. The program featured the vocal jazz group Soundsation from Edmonds Community College under the direction of Kirk Marcy, the Edmonds-Woodway High School Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Jake Bergevin and special guest vocalist, Olympia-based LaVon Hardison.

Pianist Abelita Mateus
Christopher Drukker / courtesy of the artist

Brazilian rhythms mixed with jazz have been a blessing to North American ears since the Bossa Nova craze of the 1960s.  It's encouraging to see a new generation of Brazilian musicians focus on jazz with a fresh approach.

The New Cool: Jessica Lurie - Beyond Bicoastal

Dec 15, 2017
Jessica Lurie and her NW Ensemble live on KNKX
Parker Miles Blohm

Jessica Lurie is a Northwest jazz icon, though she's been based in New York City for the past few years. She has returned to Seattle to unveil her new album Long Haul, and it's clear that no matter where her musical travels take her, she will always have a home here.

Flutist, bandleader and educator Danilo Lozano
courtesy of the artist

Miami is known for its "Little Havana" neighborhood, home to Cuban and Cuban-American culture since the 1960s.  On the other side of the US, the equivalent was Echo Park in Los Angeles. 

Although many of the Cuban exiles who settled in the Echo Park neighborhood have since dispersed throughout Southern California, there is still a strong Cuban music component in L.A.

By kind permission of Hunter Gather.

Warm up your genre blender for Seattle's Hunter Gather. Described in various hyphenates as avant-jazz, post-rock, folk-jazz, and their own "post-sad-jazz-rock", this quartet draws musical inspiration from all over. These descriptors are fun to read, but they only begin to describe the creative exploration Hunter Gather undertakes on their new, debut album, Getting to Know You.

Percussionist Willie Bobo (1934-1983)  and his son Eric
courtesy of the artist

William Correa, best known as Willie Bobo, blended jazz, rock and Latin rhythms and was one of the of the prominent bandleaders of the 1960s Latin Soul movement.  He called it "the sound a Latin cat in Harlem would dig."

Every year, blues connoisseur John Kessler compiles a list of his favorite blues records. Enjoy!


Abe Beeson/KNKX

Seventeen year-old Maximilian ("Max") Czerwinski is a senior at West Seattle High School.  He shares an hour of his favorite jazz with Abe Beeson on Thursday, December 7 from 8-9 p.m.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Entering our studios to meet the early-arriving all-star jazz combo from Lake Stevens High School, our sessions engineer John Kessler tells me, "This might be the best School of Jazz band yet!" Well, all right!

The New Cool: Cuban Jazz Meets American Pop

Dec 1, 2017
Eduardo Rawdriguez / billboard.com

I'm always suspicious of collections of modern pop covers. The songs of today don't normally equal the quality of the Great American Songbook. But the collaborations on the new album AmeriCuba from the Havana Maestros bring fresh energy and explore unexpected opportunities for improvisation.

Jovino Santos Neto
Maria Camillo / courtesy of the artist

This week on Saturday Jazz Caliente, we'll feature a recording from a live KNKX Studio Session with Jovino Santos Neto's Quarteto earlier this year.  A brilliant pianist, flutist and composer, Jovino has been a most welcome addition to the Pacific NW music scene ever since he landed here in the 1990s.

The New Cool: Meet England's Ezra Collective

Nov 24, 2017
Stephen Leigh/Funkyfeet Photography

The modern confluence of reggae, hip hop, electronic and afro-beat music seeps to the surface of jazz in the talented young English quintet Ezra Collective. You'll hear a song from their new release Juan Pablo: The Philosopher on their New Cool debut this Saturday afternoon on KNKX.

Eddie Palmieri and Cal Tjader's first album together, El Sonido Nuevo 1966
Verve Records

One of the most appealing Latin Jazz/Pop crossover artists was drummer/vibraphonist Callen Radcliffe  "Cal" Tjader.  Cal had a deep appreciation and respect for Afro-Cuban and Brazilian music.

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