Robin Lloyd

Midday Jazz Host

Robin Lloyd was born and raised in the Detroit area. She performed radio plays in junior high and high school, took various radio apprenticeships in high school and college, and has held a number of different positions at community and public radio stations in Michigan and Western Washington, including Jazz and Blues Host, Producer, Production Manager, Station Operations Manager and Program Director. Robin is married to drummer Michael Slivka; together they manage a household full of dogs, cats and percussion.

Her most memorable KPLU moment: dancing with the Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians on stage at Jazz Alley on my birthday.

Ways to Connect


For the next few weeks on the Jazz Caliente blog, I'll feature previews of the Latin jazz artists appearing at this year's Earshot Jazz Festival, October 1 through November 17.

Tomoji Hirakata

Today is the birthday of two outstanding jazz artists who have years of experience in the Latin jazz format:

Anita Kalikies /

Opportunities to hear some wonderful live Latin music are popping up in the area this month, and also at the Earshot Jazz Festival in October and November.  Here’s a starter list, more will follow in the coming weeks:

tswartz / Flickr

Arturo Sandoval will be honored this year with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. 

“The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours,” said President Obama in a statement. “This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world. It will be my honor to present them with a token of our nation’s gratitude.”


Pianist and composer Cedar Walton died this week, at the age of 79.

He was perhaps best known for his years with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (1961-1964), where he presented some of his compositions that became jazz standards, like Ugetsu (Fantasy in D), Firm Roots, Bolivia and Mosaic.  He also recorded with John Coltrane on the famous Giant Steps album, but his alternate take of the title track was not released until a CD reissue many years later.

David Belove

Wayne Wallace is a trombonist, a five-time Grammy nominee, a respected proponent of African American-Latin music, and an accomplished arranger, educator, and composer.  His playing and recording credits are impressive, too:  Pete Escovedo, Santana, Tito Puente, Steve Turre,  Max Roach and more.  The San Francisco native took some time from his busy schedule last week to talk with me about his latest CD, Latin Jazz-Jazz Latin and an upcoming project.

Johan Broberg

Master drummer and percussionist Steve Berrios died last week at age 68. He leaves a legacy of inspirational jazz and Latin music, and a large number of devoted friends who call him their musical father.

Atael Weissman / Latin Jazz Network

This Sunday, July 28, the award-winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra presents a dance concert in the Sculpture Garden of the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, CA.

Centrum Foundation

Grammy Award winner and Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement honoree Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band return to Seattle's Jazz Alley tonight through Sunday, July 21. 

The misunderstood drum

Jul 11, 2013

The Name

What North Americans call conga drums are actually "tumbadoras." 

Lane Pederson

Looking over the list of the recently announced 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters prompted me to search through the history of the awards for any Latin Jazz artists who have been so honored.

Puerto Rican-born valve trombonist Juan Tizol was a major force in Duke Ellington's orchestra.  With his classical training, an ability to transpose on the spot, skills as a copyist, sight-reader, proofreader of scores and as a composer, he was indispensable to the band.  


Known as the "Lion of the Blues" or the "Sinatra of the Blues," for his ability to sing smooth ballads as well as shout the low-down blues, Bobby Blue Bland started singing gospel in Memphis.  

Steve Korn

Two Seattle natives have been honored by the Jazz Journalists Association Awards for Journalism and Media. 

Seattle author Paul de Barros was presented with the Best Book About Jazz award for his in-depth biography Shall We Play That One Together? The Life and Art of Jazz Piano Legend Marian McPartland.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Every Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m. KPLU jazz host, Robin Lloyd, presents a feature called Jazz Caleinte—a set of three Latin jazz songs that are embellished by Robin’s comments and insights into all forms of Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz.

Recently Robin hosted her first live Jazz Caliente session with vocalist, Carlos Cascante, and his band, Tumbao.

Latin Jazz pianist Hilton Ruiz died in New Orleans in 2006 from unexplained injuries.  He left behind an unfinished musical project that was to have benefited Hurricane Katrina victims.

Marco Matute has launched a PledgeMusic project that will produce the CD that Hilton intended, along with a documentary film about Hilton Ruiz.  Here's a preview of the film.  And here's some of Hilton's music:


To be released this spring (date TBD): Gonzalo Rubalcaba's Volcan

This band is comprised of musical masters, experienced bandleaders and good friends:  Jose Armando Gola-bass, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez-drums, Giovanni  Hidalgo-congas and Gonzalo Rubalcaba-piano.

Kathleen Gillette

Two upcoming not-to-be missed performances of Latin jazz, Seattle-style:

Thursday May 16 (tonight)  Tula's, 2214 Second Avenue  Fred Hoadley's Sonando


The Jazz Journalists annual awards for musicians were announced yesterday, May 1.  

Jazz Caliente celebrates Latin Jazz winners Luciana Souza (Best Female Vocalists), Bobby Sanabria (Best Percussionist), and Edmar Casteneda (Player of Instruments Rare in Jazz of the Year).

Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos

Best known for his work with the Modern Jazz Quartet for its entire run (1952-1974), Percy Heath had only been playing bass for about four years when he joined the band.

Heath also recorded with most of the leading musicians in modern jazz, including Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman.

Library of Congress

One of the most influential figures in American music and one of the twentieth century's best known African-American personalities, pianist, composer and bandleader Duke Ellington was, to use one of his signature phrases, "beyond category."

Jazz April birthday celebrations continue on Jazz Caliente!

The "first lady of song" Ella Fitzgerald was the most popular female jazz singer in the U.S. for more than half a century. In her lifetime, she won 13 Grammy awards and sold more than 40 million albums.

wikimedia commons

Influenced by Lester Young initially, then by Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane, Joe Henderson created his own unique sound.

Charles Mingus was a virtuoso bass player, accomplished pianist, bandleader and composer.  Influenced both by church choirs and Duke Ellington, he studied double bass and composition with classical masters.

We've been celebrating Jazz April (Jazz Appreciation Month + International Jazz Day April 30) by posting birthday remembrances of the legendary jazz artists who were born this month.

Latin Jazz innovators, percussionists and bandleaders are well-represented in April too:

Bassist Buster Williams is a living legend of jazz,who has worked with Miles Davis, Count Basie, Herbie Hancock, Art Blakey, Chet Baker, McCoy Tyner, Woody Shaw, Benny Golson, and Kenny Baron, Sarah Vaughan, and Nancy Wilson.

AP file photo

Herbie Mann was among the first jazz musicians to specialize on the flute and was jazz music's preeminent flautist during the 1960s, an early pioneer of the fusion of jazz and world music.


Bessie Smith started out as a street musician in Chattanooga.  She was mentored in traveling shows and vaudeville by Ma Rainey.

By the early 1920s she was one of the most popular Blues singers in vaudeville.

Pianist, bandleader, composer and producer Herbie Hancock has had a career that's lasted five decades and garnered 14 Grammy® Awards.