Abe Beeson

Evening Jazz Host

Abe grew up in Western Washington, a 3rd generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KPLU, 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 he's been hosting Evening Jazz since 1998.

His most memorable KPLU radio moments include introducing Dave Brubeck, Ray Charles, Oscar Peterson and other greats; attending the San Sebastian Jazz Festival in Spain with a group of KPLU jazz fans; and locking himself out of the station on a particularly cold winter night.

Ways to Connect

Parker Miles Blohm / KPLU

Guitarist Lee Ritenour has been playing with pianist Dave Grusin on and off since he was a teenager in the 70s, Dave plays on much of Lee’s new album A Twist Of Rit, but they haven’t played much in a duet setting.

Autumn De Wilde

KPLU Evening Jazz host Abe Beeson was honored to introduce the amazing "little orchestra" from Portland, OR, Pink Martini to a joyous crowd at the Orpheum Theatre for this year's TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival.

He learned to play sax alongside John Coltrane, worked with Dizzy Gillespie's band, grew up with talented brothers Percy (bass) and Albert (drums), he's written more than a hundred songs, and at 88 years old, can't wait to release his new album with singer Roberta Gambarini.

The legendary Jimmy Heath sat down to talk with me at the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, and we started by talking about the musical house in which he was raised.

I don’t get up to Vancouver, B.C. nearly enough. It’s a massive, international city with gorgeous scenery and lots to do, and I even have friends there. So wouldn’t you know, it took a jazz festival to get me back across our northern border.

Alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson is an innovator.

He teamed up with trumpeter Clifford Brown and pianist Horace Silver to develop hard bop in the early '50s, featured brilliantly on drummer Art Blakey’s classic live album “A Night At Birdland.”

In the 6'0s, he helped create soul jazz with a number of hit records using a Hammond organ backing, including his biggest hit, “Alligator Boogaloo.”

Now at age 88, Donaldson brought the house down at this year’s Portland Jazz Festival, and took the time to talk with me about his long and successful career.

Michael Goude

KPLU rang in the new year of 2015 with a studio session featuring some old friends of the station who are also some of Seattle’s finest jazz musicians: Pearl Django and Gail Pettis.  

Pearl Django has long been regarded as one of America’s finest gypsy jazz bands. Gail is a two-time recipient of the Earshot Jazz ‘Jazz Vocalist Of The Year’ award.  

In this studio session hosted by Abe Beeson, they treated us to three great tunes and told us what 2015 has in store for them.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

It sure was hard to pick just five, but here are the best live KPLU studio sessions of the year. 

Justin Steyer


The group Omaha Diner is made up of four of the most gifted and adventurous musicians in jazz: drummer Bobby Previte, trumpeter Steven Bernstein, guitarist Charlie Hunter and saxophonist, Skerik.  

Along with the almost scary level of talent, the other thing that makes Omaha Diner unique is their musical repertoire.  They won’t even think about playing a song unless it has reached #1 on the Billboard Pop Music chart.

That’s right, Omaha Diner is a jazz band that plays only pop music. But boy, do they turn that pop music inside out.  

Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet Live Studio Session

Nov 13, 2014
Justin Steyer / KPLU

The Marsalis family is The First Family Of Jazz with father Ellis and sons Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason. Jason, the youngest brother, has been making great music for years as a jazz drummer.  

Recently, though, he broadened his percussion palette by mastering the vibraphone. We were pleased to host the newly-minted Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet in the KPLU Performance Studio. The band played three original compositions. In between songs, Jason and KPLU’s Abe Beeson talked about Jason’s love for the vibes and the new projects the band is working on.  

Chiang Ying-ying / AP Photo

You might think you know Kenny G, but you probably don't know this Kenny G.

Before smooth-jazz Kenny G, there was funk-in-your-trunk Kenny G, and right here in Seattle, too. Take a listen: 

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Although actor/singer/guitarist Tom Wopat is best known for his role as Luke Duke in the long-running television series "The Dukes Of Hazzard," his best artistic work was still ahead of him when that series ended.

Instead of seeking more television work, Wopat pursued his first love, music. He has recorded 10 albums in a variety of genres, and has performed in several Broadway musicals including "Annie Get Your Gun" with Bernadette Peters.

Wopat is currently touring with his jazz group, and we were very pleased that he could make time to visit the KPLU Performance Studio. All he brought with him was a guitar, his fine voice and some good stories.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

For many years, pianist Helen Sung devoted herself fully to classical piano studies.  So much so, in fact, that when a friend invited her out to hear Harry Connick, Jr., Helen had no idea who he was.

When she heard Harry do a series of solo piano jazz pieces she says she nearly jumped out of her skin. She’d never heard piano played like that.

From that point on, Helen focused her considerable talents on jazz. Today, Helen Sung is one of the most inventive and respected jazz pianists of her generation.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

One of Seattle's most sought-after bands, Industrial Revelation, performed live in the KPLU studios hosted by Abe Beeson.

Track List:

  • End Of Courtesy
  • Old Man Soul
  • Ingathering

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Last week our listeners had the privilege of hearing vocalist Jane Monheit light up the airwaves during our live studio session, hosted by Abe Beeson. Now you can listen to the full interview and performance, as well as watch all three songs performed by Jane and her band below. 

Justin Steyer / KPLU

We were thrilled to welcome back this week singer/saxophonist Curtis Stigers. 

The last time Curtis visited the KPLU Performance Studio, he had just released his ‘break up’ CD.  Well, time heals all wounds and this time around he touring with his ‘happy’ CD—Hooray For Love.  

Justin Steyer / KPLU

We were very excited to welcome back singer/songwriter, Sara Gazarek, a graduate from the Roosevelt High School jazz program who has since made a home in the L.A. jazz scene. 

Sara stopped by the KPLU Seattle studios for this interview and performance while in town at Jazz Alley with Band members Josh Nelson (piano), Hamilton Price (bass), Zach Harmon (drums) and Larry Koonse (guitar).

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Though this was not guitarist John Scofield's first stop into the KPLU Seattle studios this time he was joined John Medeski (piano), Billy Martin (drums), and Chris Wood (bass).

As you will hear in this session, the group mixes jazz, funk and modern soul to create what host Abe Beeson called a groovy sound of their own. 

Justin Kauflin: A Pianist And His Mentor

Jun 26, 2014
Aaron Hushagen / KPLU

Justin Kauflin is a 23-year-old jazz pianist who is also one of the subjects of a new documentary film called Keep On Keepin’ On.

The other subject of the film is Justin’s musical and spiritual mentor, jazz trumpet legend, Clark Terry. Kauflin has been a musician since childhood. He’s also been blind since age 11. The film deals with Justin’s apprenticeship and friendship with the 93-year-old Terry.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Most KPLU listeners are familiar with tenor saxophonist, Ernie Watts, though his excellent work with Charlie Haden’s Quartet West. 

However, as we learn in this performance/interview with jazz host Abe Beeson, Mr. Watts has had a multifaceted career, working with everyone from Buddy Rich to The Rolling Stones.

Ernie is joined in this performance by Seattle pianist, Marc Seales, bassist Dave Captain and drummer Gary Hobbs.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Trumpeters Ray Vega (East Coast) and Thomas Marriott (West Coast) have joined forces once again for the newest edition of their East-West Trumpet Summit with pianist George Colligan, bassist Phil Sparks and drummer Matt Jorgensen.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

We wrapped up KPLU's School of Jazz week with a special treat for our audience: a live in-studio performance from the Bellevue High School Jazz Combo, accompanied by trombonist David Marriott and led by director Edd George. 

The combo includes:

  • Trumpet: Alex Clark
  • Alto Sax: Griffin Hale
  • Tenor Sax: Winston Zhang
  • Baritone Sax: Jungwoo Lee
  • Bass: Jake Escobar
  • Piano: Melvin Soestrisno
  • Drums: Sean Mahoney

The KPLU School of Jazz, Volume 10 CD is now available.

For more information about the School of Jazz program, and to purchase your copy of this years CD, please visit SchoolofJazz.org.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Regina Carter has been pushing the limits of what jazz violin can be. Last time Ms. Carter was in the KPLU studios, she had just released her album, Reverse ThreadKanou and N’teri, which explored African music in a fresh new way. 

On this visit to Seattle, with guitarist Marvin Sewell and bassist Jesse Murphy, she had just released her new album Southern Comfort, which features traditional folk tunes of the American South. This studio session features three tracks from the album: Cornbread Crumbled in Gravy, I'm Going Home, and Miner's Child. 

You can also find our Studio Sessions available as a video podcast in iTunes.  https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/kplu-studio-sessions-video/id657517777

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Over the past several years, solo jazz guitarist, Martin Taylor, has basically become one of the gang here at KPLU. 

He’s such good company and such a brilliant guitarist that we invite him into our studios for a session almost every time he comes to town. 

Justin Steyer / KPLU

As a part of the Fall Fund Drive KPLU welcomed in The David Sanborn trio into the Seattle studios for an electrifying live studio session, hosted by Abe Beeson. Accompanying Sanborn were organ master Joey DeFrancesco and drummer Gene Lake. 

Justin Steyer / KPLU

When he began his recording career, and for some time thereafter, saxophonist, Anton Schwartz made his home in San Francisco.

Now, though, he splits his time between San Francisco and Seattle so we invited our new neighbor to the KPLU performance studio to play some music and talk about his new CD, Flash Mob.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Cecile McLorin Salvant is one of the best young jazz singers to appear on the scene in years.  She’s the prefect combination of what many think a great singer should be.  She creates her own songs, allowing us to see the world through her eyes and she also combs American music history looking for semi-obscure gems to polish and present to a new audience. 

Courtesy of the artist

Saxophonist/vocalist, Grace Kelly has just released her 8th CD, and she is only 21 years old. Those two facts kind of say it all. Grace is a prodigiously talented musician. 

She’s also delightful company, which is why we were so happy to receive a return visit from Grace for a KPLU Studio Session. 

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Recently, guitarist, Bucky Pizzarelli visited Seattle to play a series of shows with Northwest gypsy jazz band, Pearl Django. On a cold January day, they all came into the KPLU studios to play… and things warmed up fast.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

To say that the voice of singer Rachelle Ferrel  is supple would be to understate its magnificence. Ms. Ferrel’s voice has a 6-octave range which conveys deep and surprising levels of emotion.

As you can imagine, KPLU was very proud to host her and her pianist, Mo Pleasure, in an intimate studio session.