Nick Francis

Music Director

A native of Los Angeles and graduate of UCLA, Francis began his radio career in 1983 at KLSK-FM, an eclectic-based jazz station in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Since then, he has programmed jazz radio at stations all around the country, including KKSF/San Francisco and WJZZ/Atlanta. During his seven years as Program Director at KYOT/Phoenix, he helped it become the first jazz station in America to achieve number-one status in the ratings. He joined the KPLU team in November 2005.

His most memorable KPLU radio moment was meeting and interviewing Mose Allison. He lives in North Tacoma, and is married to photographer Sharon Styer.

Ways To Connect

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Graham Dechter is a 26-year-old jazz guitarist who is, indeed, currently living his dream. 

Graham was invited to join the world-famous Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra at age 19. Now, 7 years later, he is leading his own group and just released his second CD, “Takin' It There.”  

Here is a video of the quartet performing the title track, "Takin' It There" live in our studios: 

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Bellingham jazz singer, Cheryl Jewell, was raised in Oak Harbor, Washington.  When she went to college in Bellingham, she fell in love with that city.  She left only to pursue her singing career in Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles. 

After working for several years as a rock and country singer, Cheryl decided to move back to Bellingham and pursue her first musical love—jazz.  With the release of her first jazz CD, My Blue Heaven, Cheryl has placed herself on the top shelf of West Coast jazz singers. 

When Julian Lage was 8 years old, his skill as a guitarist was the subject of a documentary film, Jules at Eight. Before he entered his teens, he had already performed with Carlos Santana and jazz vibraphonist, Gary Burton.

He made his first jazz recording with Burton at age 15, and at age 22 he released his first CD as a band leader. Now, at the ripe old age of 24, he's just released his second CD, called Gladwell.

To celebrate and promote the new recording, Julian is traveling the country with his quintet, and stopped by the KPLU studios last week to treat us to three delightful pieces of music.

Live sessions in the KPLU Performance Studio are always fun.  However, when saxophonist, Joe Lovano, stopped by with his group, Us Five, it was more than fun.  It was also an honor. 

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Imagine inventing something that enhanced a hobby that you were passionate about. That's what happened to KPLU music director Nick Francis.

He invented a musical mixing device called The Choppertone. He built it from a MIDI controller kit. And with it, he's able to mix different bits of audio together, to create a whole new sound or remix an old song.

Some jazz singers excel at singing standards. Others excel at scat-singing or vocalese (writing lyrics for instrumental improvisations and singing them). However, Grammy award-winning vocalist Kurt Elling can do it all.

He easily proved it in front of a small studio audience of Leadership Circle members on April 15th with along with two long-time musical colleagues; pianist, Laurence Hobgood, and guitarist, John McLean.

Sad to report the passing of British jazz pianist George Shearing, who died Monday from congestive heart failure in New York. He was 91. 

He came to the U.S. in 1947 and quickly established himself as a popular instrumentalist and composer. His recording of "September In The Rain" sold nearly a million copies, and his tune "Lullaby of Birdland" became a popular jazz favorite.