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.

88.5 KNKX continues its tradition of bringing yuletide cheer to the Northwest with a concert of music for the season—incorporating some of the area’s best student groups and regional jazz musicians.  The KNKX Holiday Jam and Live Broadcast will be presented for the first time ever at Edmonds Center for the Arts on Monday, December 4 from 7-8 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson.  The event is free and open to the public, and will be broadcast live on-air and streamed live at knkx.org

Parker Miles Blohm

You may have noticed many more of our exclusive KNKX studio session performances mixed into our jazz in recent weeks. The New Cool is also committed to the art of live performance, and on this week's show we’ll hear four fantastic 88.5 studio session recordings from a wide variety of modern jazz styles.

Latin Jazz drummer Bobby Matos 1941-2017
courtesy of the artist

The Latin jazz world lost a great musician and supporter last weekend.  Drummer Bobby Matos died on November 11, after fighting cancer for a couple of years.  A dedicated performer and educator, Bobby Matos and his music touched many lives.

The New Cool: Return of the Brass

Nov 10, 2017
Peter Adams/45th St Brass

The brass band tradition goes back more than a century both in the United States and in the United Kingdom, and today both countries continue to produce outstanding brass funk that continues to up the ante for old school party music.

Saxophonist Miguel Zenón's album "Típico" is nominated for a Latin Grammy
Katz/Courtesy of the Artist / miguelzenon.com

The 18th Annual Latin Grammy Awards ceremony takes place on Thursday November 16 in Las Vegas.  This week on Saturday Jazz Caliente, we'll sample the albums nominated for the Latin Grammy's Best Latin Jazz Album, and one that's in the Best Instrumental Album category.

Tito Rios Viche in the KNKX studios.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

A confident septet of teenagers from the jazz band at the Seattle Academy of Arts & Sciences took over the KNKX studios with their mentor, Steve Treseler featured on sax.

Treseler has a new tribute to trumpeter Kenny Wheeler ready for release in the New Year, but he had to keep his wits about him with this group.

The New Cool: Celebrating One Year on KNKX

Nov 3, 2017
Make a note, keep all papers organized in a file cabinet for easy access.
Abe Beeson

Fifty-two shows in the books! The New Cool celebrates one year on the air at KNKX this week. The essence of jazz is to push creativity forward, and we've shared some of the coolest music influenced by today's sounds - hip hop, rock, electronic, soul, funk and folk music from around the world. Now we're ready for Year #2.

Drummer Jeff "Bongo" Busch anticipates cake for Saturday Jazz Caliente's first birthday
KNKX Studio Session video / Michael Goude, Vibe Vision Seattle

Well, that year flew by! 

Thanks to our community of listeners, Saturday Jazz Caliente debuted on KNKX on November 5, 2016.

Evan DeTurk is a sixteen year old student and Alto Sax player at Garfield High School. He shares an hour of his favorite jazz with Abe Beeson on Thursday, November 2 at 8:00-9:00 pm. 

Ray Vega performs in the KNKX studio, 2014
Justin Styer / KNKX

Trumpeter Ray Vega is a veteran of Latin Jazz, having worked in the bands of Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Ray Barretto and Mario Bauza.  A native of the South Bronx, he's a multi-talented trumpeter, percussionist, composer, and arranger.  You'll hear quite a bit of Ray's music on Jazz Caliente, from his albums Boperation, Pa'lante and Squeeze Squeeze.

Mary Lou Williams at the piano, 1946
William P. Gottlieb / Library of Congress

Pianist, composer and arranger Mary Lou Williams was one of the most talented and versatile musicians in jazz, but throughout her life she had to fight for recognition of her accomplishments.  Her story is well told in the film Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band.

The New Cool: London's THUMB Catches a Break

Oct 20, 2017
Check out THUMB's music at https://butespeciallythumb.bandcamp.com/album/south-of-the-river
Abe Beeson

"I hope this email finds you well," is a phrase that rarely earns instant excitement. Thankfully, in the case of young London neo-jazz group THUMB, the payoff is cool jazz from across the ocean that you probably haven't heard before.

Dizzy Gillespie plays his trumpet on the main stage during the Monterey Jazz Festival in Sept. 1990
Eric Risberg / AP

Saturday Jazz Caliente is all about Dizzy Gillespie this week, to honor the brilliant trumpeter's contributions to Latin Jazz on his 100th birthday.  

KNKX’s award-winning School of Jazz program is now in its 13th year of mentoring jazz students in Western Washington and provides year-round opportunities for learning, performance, personal expression and growth. This includes bringing school jazz combos into our Seattle studios to perform live, giving a voice to students on the air as guest DJs, and supporting and partnering with other regional organizations that mentor jazz students (such as Seattle JazzED). School of Jazz has directly impacted over 3,000 students, band directors and professional jazz musicians, strengthening connections to the regional jazz community.

Used with kind permission of the artist: marquishill.com

Trumpeter Marquis Hill returns to Seattle to lead his Blacktet at the Royal Room in Seattle for the Earshot Jazz Festival Friday night. He was just in town with bassist Marcus Miller's band, and a year ago that group was live in the KNKX studios. I remember it well, because of Marquis Hill.

George Gershwin 1898-1937
Bain News Service / Public Domain

Known as one of  the most significant composers of American music, George Gershwin excelled in popular songs, Broadway musicals and even classical compositions. 

In February of 1932, George treated himself to a two-week vacation in Cuba.  When he came back to the US, he wrote a short piece of music inspired by the rhythms he heard on the island.

Thelonious Monk at Minton's Playhouse, New York, 1947
William Gottlieb / Public Domain

Tuesday October 10th is the 100th birthday of jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk.  Often referred to as "the Picasso of bebop," or "the High Priest of bop," Monk helped to push jazz to a new era and beyond.

In the 1940s and 1950s, the bebop scene was full of unusual, quirky sounds and characters, but none quite so unpredictable and original as Monk.  He may have frightened some jazz fans away with his sometimes bizarre behavior, but the musicians knew they were dealing with genius.

Justin Steyer / KNKX

The Earshot Jazz Festival returns this weekend, and the fine folks at Earshot continue their tradition of presenting world class live jazz that stretches the definition of this music to its limits. In other words, fans of The New Cool have plenty to be excited about. It's a different kind of jazz festival, one or two amazing shows nearly every night for more than a month - your only excuse for missing a show is because it's sold out. That will happen, so get your tickets now!

Mongo Santamaría plays the conga drums at the Super Jazz Concert at the Apollo Theater in New York, 1988.
William I. Ballinger / AP

Ramón "Mongo" Santamaría Rodríguez is probably the most recognized of the Cuban-born conga drum players associated with American jazz and R&B.  To many, Mongo represented the pinnacle of Afro-Cuban percussion.

Seventeen year-old Holden Predmore plays bass at Nathan Hale High School. He shares an hour of his favorite jazz with Abe Beeson on October 5 from 8:00-9:00 pm.

The New Cool: Ben Allison, Bass Up Front

Sep 29, 2017
Photo: Courtesy Ben Allison

When you live in New York City, you don't need to travel much. The world comes to you, as it has for bassist Ben Allison, who's just released his 12th album as a leader, Layers of the City.

Cuban pianist and bandleader Omar Sosa
Massimo Mantivani / Courtesy of the artist

October is shaping up to be an outstanding month for Cuban music and Latin Jazz in the Seattle area.  Here's a preview of  some upcoming shows and artists.

The New Cool: Modern Jazz In The KNKX Studio

Sep 22, 2017
Abe Beeson

This week in the KNKX studios brings two more fresh approaches to non-traditional jazz. Modern music from the Barrett Martin Group and Freudian Slurp is informed by the sounds of rock, electronic music, funk and soul. Both are based in the Seattle area, where The New Cool has been finding plenty of inspiration and material for the show.

The Spanish Harlem Orchestra on stage at Lincoln Center's "Out of Doors" concert series, 2017
Luxe Creative Imaging / Courtesy of SHO

The Spanish Harlem Orchestra is on tour celebrating its 15th year of performing and recording.  All of their albums have been nominated for Grammy awards and they've collected two awards so far.  Their shows sell out all over the US and the world.  They'll be at Jazz Alley next week, Tuesday September 26 and Wednesday September 27.

What makes this group so special?  Most likely, it's the vision of excellence held and shared by the band and its pianist/music director/leader Oscar Hernández.

The New Cool: Beyond Jazz and Bluegrass

Sep 15, 2017
Michael Wilson / http://www.michaelwilson.pictures/

Brad Mehldau plays piano and Chris Thile plays mandolin and sings a bit. Their new album is self-titled and is a blend of jazz and free-flowing bluegrass, but it shouldn't be defined by either genre. Brad and Chris are simply making great music.

Cuban jazz player Arturo Sandoval plays during a concert in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017
AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Cuban trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist Arturo Sandoval returns to Seattle this week, playing Dimitriou's Jazz Alley Thursday 9/14 through Sunday 9/17. 

Arturo Sandoval first studied classical trumpet, then turned to jazz.  In his live shows, he radiates the joy of music, much like his mentor Jazz Master Dizzy Gillespie.

John Watson jazzcamera.co.uk

Manchester trio GoGo Penguin make their Seattle debut at the Triple Door on Tuesday September 12.  I recently spoke with the band's bass player Nick Blacka.

Abe Beeson

Sixteen year-old Aaron Korver plays piano with the Roosevelt High School jazz band.  He shares an hour of his favorite jazz with Abe Beeson on September 7 from 8-9 p.m.

Seattle JazzEd
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Twenty-eight teenagers filled several rooms at KNKX's Seattle studios to perform in 4 groups as a sort of graduation from the Seattle JazzED Summer Advanced Institute. On paper, it looked like disaster... but the kids made it work.

The New Cool: Charles Lloyd, Live and Kicking

Sep 1, 2017
From left: Jason Moran, Reuben Rogers, Charles Lloyd, Eric Harland
Photo/Daniel Sheehan

Now approaching his 80th birthday, sax and flute player, composer and band leader Charles Lloyd leads his quartet of young stars on a new live recording of free flowing improvisation and uplifting energy. It's no longer a mentor and his students, this is a band of four men working as one.

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