Jim Wilke

Jazz Northwest and Jazz After Hours Host

Jim has been a fixture on Seattle radio since 1961. His Jazz After Hours on Public Radio International has been heard on stations across the US including KPLU since 1983. Jazz Northwest is a weekly program featuring regional musicians and jazz performances Jim records at various locations.

His most memorable KPLU moment was hosting the 20th Anniversary Live at Jazz Alley show, two hours of live music. He is also a recording engineer and writer. Jim has been named one of the top jazz radio producers nationally by JazzTimes and the Jazz Journalists Association. He is in the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame and several musicians have composed songs in his honor.

Ways To Connect

Howard A. Gitelson

The Earshot Jazz Festival started last weekend and will continue through November 11 with dozens of performances in various venues around Seattle. Earshot director John Gilbreath joins Jim Wilke on KPLU's Jazz Northwest  to provide some highlights from a dizzying array of world class talent appearing during the Earshot Jazz Festival.  Highlighted on this program are performances by Lew Tabackin, Chad Mccullough, Miguel Zenon, Pharoah Sanders, Davie Liebman and Anton Schwartz. 

Jim Levitt

Pianist Benny Green leads his trio in an exciting concert on Jazz Northwest on Sunday October 12.  David Wong is on bass and Rodney Green is the drummer.  The concert was recorded last July at Centrum's Jazz Port Townsend for this broadcast. 

This week, Jazz Northwest includes a preview of The 26th Annual Earshot Jazz Festival which begins October 10 and runs through November 11. Dozens of performances will take place in various venues in and around the Seattle area.  

Jim Levitt

An unusual concert featuring three singers was one of the features of Centrum's Jazz Port Townsend in July.  The singers, Johnaye Kendrick, Sachal Vasandani and Dena DeRose performed together in a "singers' jam" to open and close the concert and each did a solo turn on their own. All three were also on the jazz vocal faculty of the Jazz Workshop which precedes the festival concerts the last week of July each Summer.  The concert was recorded and broadcast exclusively on 88.KPLU.

It's the last weekend of Summer and we'll feature some songs for the end of Summer with Jessica Williams and Ralph Towner and Denney Goodhew on Jazz Northwest.  We'll also look ahead and sample some of the great live jazz coming up this Fall including the CD release party for Ann Reynolds' Clave Gringa on Monday night at Tula's.  Former Seattle pianist Larry Fuller has a new CD and he'll be back in Seattle next month for three performances.

Jim Levitt

Pianist and composer George Cables was celebrated in a special concert at Centrum's Jazz Port Townsend last July, and the concert was recorded for broadcast. A perennial favorite at the festival and the Jazz Workshop each summer, George Cables teaches students, plays trio jazz in the clubs and often appears on the festival mainstage where this concert was recorded.  Three pianists, Geoffrey Keezer, Benny Green and Dawn Clement take solo turns playing compositions by George Cables, and guitarist Anthony Wilson also contributes a piece associated with George Cables.

Diane Schuur and Janis Mann, two former Seattle singers will come home for gigs in Seattle this week and their most recent CDs are featured on this week's Jazz Northwest.  Both launched successful recording and touring careers from Seattle and their most recent CDs are featured on this program.   Janis Mann will sing in the Art of Jazz series at Seattle Art Museum on Thursday September 11, and Diane Schuur will be at Jazz Alley September 11-14.   Don't be surprised if you see either of them at the other's gig, they're longtime friends as well. 

Jim Levitt

One of the most highly regarded composer-arrangers in jazz is Bill Holman, whose career stretches back over six decades and includes music performed by Stan Kenton, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Gerry Mulligan and many others.  He also leads his own L.A. big band which includes many top musicians who vie for the opportunity to play Bill Holman's exciting and complex music.   Winner of three Grammy Awards and 14 nominations, he's arranged for recording sessions by Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae and many others. 

New CD releases from Seattle, Portland and Victoria are featured on this week's Jazz Northwest.  Among them is the first new release in nine years from the long standing duo of vibist Tom Collier and bassist Dan Dean, recorded in Seattle and in L.A.

Jim Levitt

Sisters Ingrid and Christine Jensen were reunited in concert at Centrum's Jazz port Townsend in July. Their concert at McCurdy Pavilion was recorded for Jazz Northwest. The sisters grew up in Nanaimo, BC and have gone on to successful musical careers. Christine Jensen now lives in Montreal where she composes for and leads her own jazz orchestra. Ingrid is based in New York and leads her own groups and plays with the Maria Schneider Orchestra and other ensembles. Both have recorded numerous CDs and tour internationally.

New jazz releases from musicians in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver BC are featured on this week's Jazz Northwest. We have a sneak preview of pianist Gordon Lee with the Mel Brown Septet, the Tuesday night band at Jimmy Mak's in Portland. Tom Collier and Dan Dean are a long-standing pair of Seattle musicians who have a new CD titled Slick Buick, and we'll also sample Triology, a very smooth piano-guitar-bass trio from Vancouver BC.

Jim Levitt

Trombonist Wycliffe Gordon & Friends' Jazz Port Townsend concert aired on Jazz Northwest on 88.5 KPLU. The popular and critically acclaimed brass player (he plays several brass instruments) was recently named top trombonist by the DownBeat Critics Poll for the third year in a row and top trombonist by the Jazz Journalists Association. 

Daniel Sheehan

Pianist Bill Anschell is a Seattle native, though he's lived and toured around the US and internationally. Returning to Seattle to live, he quickly established himself as one of the key players through his own trio, accompanying singers and his regular appearance with Floyd Standifer at The New Orleans during the trumpet player's last years.

Lesley Bohm

Jazz Northwest offers a preview of Centrum's Jazz Port Townsend. Jazz Port Townsend is Washington State's longest running jazz festival, and regularly presents internationally-renown, poll-winning jazz artists on the last weekend of July each Summer. Among the artists who'll be heard on the radio preview and at the festival are NEA Jazz Master Bill Holman who will directed the Festival All Star Big Band in his compositions and arrangements.  Others include sisters Christine and Ingrid Jensen who first attended the festival as students in the jazz workshop, trombone master Wycliffe Gordon, pianist George Cables who will be the subject of a piano tribute, Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts, the Benny Green Trio, a singer's showcase with Sachal Vasandani, Dena DeRose and Johnaye Kendrick, and more. 

This week, Jazz Northwest samples some of the rich variety of jazz coming up this month.  Flugelhorn player Dmitri Matheny was a protege of the late Art Farmer and plays a horn that belonged to his mentor.  Sarah Gazarek was featured with the Roosevelt High School Jazz Band not so many years ago and is back in town with a featured spot at Jazz Alley,  Jim Cutler's Jazz Orchestra plays Sunday nights at Tula's and has a new CD.

Highlights from the final concert of the season by the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra is featured on this week's Jazz Northwest

  There are jazz festivals at each end of the Salish Sea this week, from The American Classic Jazz Festival in Lacey to the Vancouver International Jazz Festival. 

There's also jazz in the Seattle area ranging from the ambitious Alchemy Project premiering original music by Sumi Tonooka, Erica Lindsay, Salim Washington, David Arend and Samantha Boshnack with Max Wood and Willem De Koch, playing at The Royal Room Sunday. 

This show comes from Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, where we recorded Chris Amemiya's Jazz Coalescence at the 14th Annual Jazz at the Labs, a benefit for the FridayHarbor Labs K-12 Science Outreach Program.  Although well-known as a trombonist in the jazz community, Dr.Amemiya is by day a research biologist at the Benaroya Research Institute and a full professor in the Biology Department at The University of Washington.

The Friday Harbor Labs are on a 484 acre biological preserve on the North side of Friday Harbor and well located for research on many aspects of marine biology and oceanography. It’s a fascinating place to visit, and very friendly to visiting jazz musicians and fans.  This concert by Jazz Coalescence features some of Seattle’s best: Chris Amemiya on trombone, Jay Thomas on trumpet and saxes, John Hansen at the piano, Jon Hamar on bass and Steve Korn on drums. Kelley Johnson will also be heard in a few songs.

Jazz Northwest samples the wide variety of jazz available in the Pacific Northwest each week. This week we have a sneak preview of the forthcoming CD by the young Chilean saxophonist Melissa Aldana who will play a single gig on the West Coast next week.

It's at Jimmy Mak's in Portland presented by PDX Jazz. She was the winner of the Thelonious Monk Competition last year.

Jazz Serendipity

Jun 8, 2014

Serendipity is defined as the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

It's also a word that can apply to a lot of good jazz experiences... the unexpected combination of musicians, a scrap of improvisation that inspires a new development in the music or even an unusual location to hear jazz. 

This episode of Jazz Northwest includes several unusual encounters between musicians, audiences and spaces, most of them from live performances with Steve Kaldestad, Jay Thomas, Danny Kolke, Pete Christlieb, Jacqueline Tabor, Mike Allen, Hugh Fraser and others, plus a 1984 UW Studio Jazz Band that includes some of today's top Seattle players.

Miles Davis is still one of the most influential figures in jazz, even after more than twenty years since his death (1991). On what would have been his 88th birthday on May 26, a section of 77th Street in New York City where he lived and composed some of his most memorable music was renamed Miles Davis Way.

  This week on Jazz Northwest, we'll preview the featured artists at The Bellevue Jazz Festival, including The East-West Trumpet Summit with Ray Vega and Thomas Marriott, Carlos Cascante y su Tumbao, Poncho Sanchez, and Bill Frisell's Beautiful Dreamers. 

The festival also include many free performances in downtown Bellevue Wednesday through Sunday. 

McTuff on Jazz Northwest

May 18, 2014

The organ trio (Hammond B3 organ, guitar and drums) is one of the jazz institutions. From the late 50s through the 60s, organ trios were one of the most popular styles of jazz, particularly in hotbeds like Detroit and Philadelphia.

The Seattle band McTuff was formed in 2008 as a tribute to organ greats Jimmy Smith and Captain Jack McDuff, but they've added their own take on the classics and play a lot of original music, too. 


Some of the most popular music of the 1930s was played by the big bands of the Swing Era. Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Chick Webb, Lionel Hampton, Glenn Miller and other bands toured across the country playing for dancers in ballrooms like the Savoy in Harlem, the Rendevous in Balboa, the Trianon in Seattle, the Spanish Castle in Tacoma and Evergreen Ballroom near Tacoma. 

On this episode, The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, co-directed by Clarence Acox and Michael Brockman is featured in highlights from a concert devoted to “The Art Of The Jitterbug."

Robyn Kolke

This week on Jazz Northwest, new releases by The Danny Kolke Trio + Pete Christlieb "Live at Boxley's" and Nelda Swiggett's Stringtet, with her trio + two musicians from the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Plus a sampling of music in the week to come with Bill Watrous, Fred Hersch and The Mercer Island High School Jazz Ensemble 1 and news of the best bets for live jazz.

Jim Levitt

Former Seattle resident Kendra Shank now lives in New York, and John Stowell resides in Portland when he's not touring. They first performed together in Portland over twenty years ago but when they re-discovered how much they liked making music together, it resulted in a new CD "New York Conversations."

The duo is currently on a West Coast tour with 13 dates which began in Seattle with a concert at The Seattle Art Museum.

David Belove

Jazz artists from around the US will join resident musicians April 16-19 for the 12th annual Ballard Jazz Festival, and Jazz Northwest samples some of the music to be heard over the four-day event.   Festival artists featured this week on Jazz Northwest include Corey Christiansen, Jay Thomas, George Colligan, Thomas Marriott, Mimi Fox, and Sonny Fortune.

Vibist Susan Pascal is a versatile musician who leads her ensembles in a variety of music. On previous appearances on Jazz Northwest she has played the music of The Modern Jazz Quartet at Seattle Art Museum and led a Standards Quintet at Tula's. 

Recently she brought her "Soul Sauce" Quintet to Tula's to play the music of the Latin jazz vibist Cal Tjader. 


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