How I Came To Jazz

Editor’s Note: Every jazz musician seems to have a defining moment that led to a lifelong love of the music. KPLU jazz reporter Jason Parker will explore these moments in a three-part series titled How I Came To Jazz.

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Legendary jazz pianist Overton Berry’s “defining moment” story has to do with a brief encounter with a stranger more than 50 years ago. It taught him the a lesson about the most important thing in music — and in life.

Courtesy Monique Khim

Editor’s Note: Every jazz musician seems to have a defining moment that led to a lifelong love of the music. KPLU jazz reporter Jason Parker will explore these moments in a three-part series titled How I Came To Jazz. 

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“I grew up with Cambodian music…Cambodian karaoke,” said Monique Khim, with a giggle that belies her years.

Monique, a senior at Lynnwood High School, traded her karaoke mic for an alto saxophone years ago. Her love of jazz and saxophone runs deep, and she credits her dad’s fondness for the karaoke machine for her passion for music: “He’s the one that actually spurred on my love for music.”

Editor’s Note: Every jazz musician seems to have a defining moment that led to a lifelong love of the music. Some of these moments took place at home, some at school, some with peers. KPLU Jazz reporter Jason Parker will explore these moments in a three-part series titled How I Came To Jazz. Part 1 is Parker’s own story, as told to KPLU’s Kirsten Kendrick.

My story of how I came to jazz has two parts. It begins in the spring of my second-grade year, when every student at my elementary school was asked to choose an instrument to play. I fell in love with the sound of the cello from all the classical music that my dad put on nightly in our house during dinner. The depth and warmth of the instrument spoke to me, and I announced this to my music teacher. She, however, had other ideas for me. She said I was too small to play the cello and that I’d have to start on the violin.