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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Pianist, Taylor Eigsti and vocalist/guitarist, Becca Stevens, stopped by the KPLU Seattle studios on May 16th to brighten an otherwise rainy Monday afternoon in the Pacific Northwest with an performance and interview, hosted by Evening Jazz host Abe Beeson.

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.

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April is National Humor Month. So, Nick and I thought we'd explore the funny side of jazz.Here are  five jazz artists known for their wit as well as their jazz chops. 

KPLU was pleased to welcome ukulele virtuoso, Jake Shimabukuro, into our studios on March 29, 2011. Jake played before not only a record number of KPLU Leadership Circle members, but four young ukulele players from Foster High School we recently featured in an installment of Artscape, which explored the rising popularity of the ukulele in local schools.

We've said it before and we'll say it again: Having guitarist/vocalist/storyteller, John Pizzarelli, as a guest in the KPLU studios is always great fun. He loves making music, he loves telling stories and he loves entertaining his fans.

When he visited us recently for this performance/interview with Abe Beeson, several members of the KPLU Leadership Circle attended the event, and John Pizzarelli played to this small group the same way he'd play to a full house at Lincoln Center.

When pianist Benny Green agreed to come to KPLU’s Seattle studios for a solo piano performance he was on tour with his band doing a tribute to the music of Thelonious Monk so it seemed logical to have his studio session consist of Monk compositions. 

That was the plan, anyway ...

The Vijay Iyer Trio’s latest release, Historicity, won a number of "Album Of The Year" awards in 2010 and has been nominated for a 2011 Grammy as "Best Jazz Instrumental Album."

Pianist, Vijay Iyer, seems pleased by this recognition but not really fazed by it. In fact, during his trio’s visit to the KPLU performance studios on February 8, they only played one piece of music from Historicity—"Smoke Stack" by one of Iyer’s mentors, Andrew Hill.

This studio session marks the first visit from pianist, Jacky Terrasson, to the KPLU/Jazz24 studios.  We hope it’s the first of many.

In a stunning three-song set, Jacky left no doubt that his group is one of the most exciting piano trios in jazz today.

Vocalist, Bethany Yarrow, and cellist, Rufus Cappadocia make an incredible amount of music for just two people. Bethany, daughter of Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul & Mary), first met Rufus at The Knitting Factory in Manhattan. They're reinventing traditional music and transforming it into something that defies genre classification.

Grammy Award-winning "Soul Queen of New Orleans," Irma Thomas brought her rythym section to the performance studio on October 29, 2010 to perform live on KPLU's Blue Plate Special hosted by Nick Morrison.

When The Manhattan Transfer (Tim Hauser, Cheryl Bentyne, Alan Paul, Janis Siegal) came into the KPLU/Jazz24 performance studio, they had literally just gotten off an airplane. A little jet-lagged but ready to sing, they kicked of the session with their version of Moten Swing.

Jazz and pop singer, Nikki Yanofsky, is a very cheerful 16 year-old. And why not? As you will hear in this interview with KPLU/Jazz 24 host, Kevin Kniestedt, she says that as soon as she learned to talk, she began to say she wanted to be a singer. It was something she began to pursue right away.

As the son of actor/director/jazz fan, Clint Eastwood, Kyle Eastwood grew up listening to jazz. In this performance-interview hosted by Abe Beeson, Kyle talks about a childhood trip to The Monterey Jazz Festival and how hearing the Count Basie Big Band that day inspired him to become a bass player.

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Jazz saxophone legend Sonny Rollins celebrated his 80th birthday on September 7th. KPLU's Kirsten Kendrick and Nick Morrison used the opportunity to talk about Rollins' life and play some of his great music. As part of a monthly contribution to NPR's music Web site, Nick compiled a list of five Sonny Rollins' songs that span his extensive career. And Nick talked with Kirsten about some of his selections.

Kirsten: Nick, when did Sonny Rollins first start coming into focus for jazz fans?

When Lee came into the KPLU/Jazz24 studios on an unseasonably cool August afternoon, he arrived with a rhythm section hot enough to raise Seattle’s temperature a few degrees: drummer, Will Kennedy and bassist, Melvin Davis. Together, they laid down three delightful tracks; Water’s Edge, L.P.—For Les Paul, and Freddie Hubbard’s composition, Povo (watch the video below).

When blues singer, Shemekia Copeland performs live, it's almost guaranteed to be an electrifying experience. In this session, recorded in KPLU's Seattle studios, we get a rare opportunity to hear Shemekia's voice in an intimate performance context. Instead of bringing her whole band, Shemekia arrived with just her guitar player, Arthur Neilson.

AP

If you love jazz, then you know it's often a family affair. Here's one example: the Heath Brothers Quartet performed this weekend at Jazz Port Townsend, with Jimmy Heath on tenor saxophone and Tootie Heath on drums. Along with their late brother Percy, the Heaths are just one of the great sibling stories in jazz. In this week's installment of our Artscape series, KPLU's Kirsten Kendrick and Nick Morrison discuss more musical families as part of a list that Nick prepared for NPR.

Here’s a rare treat; a solo performance from 6-time Grammy Award-winning vibraphonist, Gary Burton. In his 50-year (and counting) recording career, Burton has recorded with many different group configurations and has done a number of duo recordings with artists including bassist, Steve Swallow, guitarist, Ralph Towner and most famously, pianist, Chick Corea, but we rarely get to hear him all by himself.

Jazz guitarist, Martin Taylor, is one of our favorite guests in the KPLU/Jazz24 studios. Not only is he widely acclaimed as perhaps the finest solo, acoustic jazz guitarist alive, he’s always great company. Whenever his touring schedule brings him to Seattle, we make sure he pays us a visit.

Grammy-winning Trumpeter Roy Hargrove performed live at KPLU's Seattle studios on December 2, hosted by Abe Beeson. Hargrove was accompanied in the studio by pianist Jonathan Batiste, bassist Ameen Saleem, saxophonist Justin Robinson, and drummer Montez Coleman as they performed three songs: Low Life, For Tamisha, and Soulful.

Speaking with KPLU jazz host, Kevin Kniestedt, Eldar talked about his family’s move from Kyrgyzstan to Kansas City as a child, and how much he learned from that city’s veteran jazz musicians. Eldar also showcased his improvisational and compositional skills with three solo piano pieces, I Should Care, Insensitive and his own Vanilla Sky/Exposition.

In 1965, Chicago jazz pianist, Ramsey Lewis had a hit record—‘The In Crowd’ (by The Ramsey Lewis Trio, featuring drummer Redd Holt and bassist, Eldee Young). Since that time, Lewis has recorded over 80 albums. He has also hosted the popular Legends Of Jazz radio and television series’. Now, at age 74, Ramsey Lewis is reveling in his relatively new career as a composer.

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