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.

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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.

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