Nick Morrison

Production Manager/ Jazz & Blues Host

Nick began working at KPLU as a program host in the late 1980’s and, with the exception of a relatively brief hiatus, has been with the station ever since. Along with his work as a Midday Jazz host, Nick worked for several years as KPLU’s Music Director. He is now the station’s Production Manager and also serves as a fill-in host on KPLU’s jazz and blues programs.

Among his many memorable KPLU moments, Nick vividly recalls his pleasure and amazement when jazz guitarist, Larry Coryell, visited the studios during his program and performed a solo, acoustic guitar version of George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody In Blue.’ It still stands as one of the most wonderful live music performances he’s ever seen.

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Here are our picks for the best blues albums of the year.

harmonytalk.com / Wikimedia Commons

Charley Patton’s music set the template for all the Delta blues players who would come after him. Take a listen to “High Water Everywhere,” which Patton recorded in 1929.

But Patton’s records weren’t made in the South; they were recorded in Grafton, Wisconsin by Paramount Records, a subsidiary of the Wisconsin Chair Company. Now it seems pretty unlikely, not to mention bizarre, that this seminal blues artist from Mississippi would be recorded in a freezing shack attached to a Wisconsin furniture company, but that’s what happened.

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Today we’re going to talk about a genre of blues that’s so rare it barely has a name. And if you look up that name in Wikipedia, nothing comes up. We’re talking about “trance blues.”

We define trance blues as blues that has a strong electronic component, like samples, loops and drum machines. And woven into that is some element of traditional blues.

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For many of us, Jimmy Cliff’s 1973 song “The Harder They Come” was the first reggae piece we’d heard.

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Take a listen to “Sex Machine” from 1970 by the architect of Funk, James Brown.

Brown is the focus of our discussion as we follow this music from its roots in R & B to full-blown, shake-your-booty Funk.

Rene Perez / AP Photo

You probably know “Birdland” by the group Weather Report well enough to sing along with the melody.

What you may not know is the melody is being played on an electric bass by Jaco Pastorius, the subject of today’s discussion.  

Bob Daugherty / AP Photo

Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker’s song “Ko-Ko” is perhaps one of the most important American recordings of all time. It’s widely considered to be the first be-bop song ever to be recorded. And even though it’s a 1945 recording, this is still the template for modern jazz.

AP Photo

When Jimi Hendrix released the song “Foxy Lady” as part of the “Are You Experienced” album in 1967, it was like this whole package of psychedelia had dropped from the sky.

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The song “Juke” by Little Walter Jacobs might not sound revolutionary to modern ears, but when it first came out in 1951, nobody had ever had heard harmonica played like this — ever. It really has an aggressive, in-your-face sound.

Stevesworldofphotos / Flickr

What was the first recorded rock and roll song?

Before we can answer that question, we have to go back and figure out the ingredients of rock and roll. We can identify three most important ingredients: gospel, jump and blues. 

William Gottlieb / The Library of Congress

The advent of bebop added a fresh sound to American music. It also added new voices to some metropolitan radio stations: the late-night jazz DJs who specialized in presenting this new music to their fellow hipster nightflies. To recognize the work of the groundbreaking DJs who lent them critical exposure, jazz musicians of the period would occasionally write songs in their honor. Here are five of those songs.

Verve Records

Over the past few years, Take 5’s theme-based music lists have covered a wide variety of subjects. We’ve covered all the seasons of the year, all the holidays, different types of weather, the careers of jazz legends, the cutting-edge work of up-and-coming jazz artists and have gotten into the musical minutiae of things like flowers, birds, baseball, prohibition and civil rights.  And now it’s time for Take 5 to go meta and present a five-song list of songs about….LISTS.  It had to happen sooner or later.

In the Western Hemisphere, January is typically the coldest month of the year.  Most of us feel that if we can somehow drag ourselves through January, things will begin to turn around and we’ll be on the road to springtime. 

But January is also typically the month that feels as if it will never end.  So as we slog through the cold rain and snow, awaiting January’s demise, here are five winter blues songs to help get us through:

Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

Dick Hyman was born March 8, 1927, in New York City. Classically trained, Hyman was drawn to jazz at an early age. Today, he's a living, breathing, swinging encyclopedia of jazz piano history, from ragtime and stride to bebop and beyond.

To hear my conversation with KPLU's Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick, click on the listen button above.

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