Jazz and Blues

News about jazz, blues, Studio Sessions, and music samplings from jazz artists in the northwest and around the world.

Win Tickets To Cyrus Chestnut Trio

Apr 29, 2016

Soulful jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut might just be proof positive of the impact that music has on babies in the womb. Either that or a life in music was simply in his blood. Chestnut's father, a postal employee and the son of a church minister, was the official organist for the local church in Baltimore, Maryland, where Chestnut grew up. Young Cyrus's home was filled with the sounds of the gospel music that his church-going parents played in their home, along with jazz records by artists such as Thelonius Monk and Jimmy Smith. Chestnut has said that the roots of his love of music began there, and to this day, Chestnut's ties to the gospel church remain constant. "Growing up, gospel music was what I heard in the house," Chestnut told Down Beat Magazine.

*Tickets are only good for May 10th Showing*

CLICK HERE FOR A CHANCE TO WIN

Bettye LaVette, the inimitable and legendary R&B songstress released her album, Worthy (2/27/15), and on a new label — Cherry Red. Worthy (a 2015 Grammy-nominated release for “Best Blues Album”) reunites her with GRAMMY Award-winning songwriter and producer Joe Henry, this time with both of them co-producing. On Worthy, Bettye revisits Dylan with the opening track “Unbelievable,” with a funky urgency introduced into the song, not present in the original. On “When I Was a Young Girl,” she slides effortlessly into a slinky groove, which Chris Youlden of Savoy Brown probably never imagined. “Bless Us All” is as relevant now as when Mickey Newbury wrote it decades ago, while her rendition of Joe Henry’s own “Stop” is jazzy, soulful and reminds one not to dare try to stop her.

*Tickets are only good for the May 12th performance*

CLICK HERE FOR A CHANCE TO WIN

Jim Levitt

On Monday, April 25, some of the Northwest's hardest-working, generous — and KPLU's favorite — musicians assembled for a memorable evening of music at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley and a benefit for Save KPLU.  

This Saturday, April 30, marks the fifth anniversary of International Jazz Day, a celebration organized by UNESCO to celebrate jazz across the globe. To do our part, we're highlighting some of our favorite jazz musicians to play behind Bob Boilen's desk. Rising stars, young virtuosos, NEA Jazz Masters and veteran ensembles alike have played in NPR's D.C. offices. Here are five standout jazz performances at the Tiny Desk.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Parker Miles Blohm / KPLU

Tenor saxophonist Walter Blanding has been a member of the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra (directed by Wynton Marsalis) since 1998.  One of the things that got him there was a great jazz education.  Walter attended LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and the Performing Arts, followed by more study at the New School of Social Research. 

The Pacific Northwest has played a big part in the evolution of vocal jazz.  The first attempt to transcribe Big Band instrumental music for a vocal choir was done in 1967 by Portland’s Hal Malcomb.  Malcomb’s group, Genesis, began hosting what is now the oldest vocal jazz festival in the country, The Northwest Vocal Jazz Festival.  Carrying on that tradition is the Bellevue High School vocal ensemble, The Bellairs—8 fine young singers, accompanied by piano, bass and drums and mentored by Kirk Marcy who was once a member of one of the world’s most famous vocal jazz groups, The Four Freshma

Sony Pictures Classics

"Don't play what's there.  Play what's not there." -Miles Davis

Taking the iconic trumpeter's advice to heart, writer/producer/director/lead actor Don Cheadle begins the film "Miles Ahead" with what (or who) wasn't there:  Miles Davis from late 1975 through 1980, his "lost" or "silent" years.

Note: Each month, KPLU invites a teen guest DJ to play his or her favorite pieces on the air.  The program is part of KPLU's School of Jazz.  

Sam Brink from Stadium High School is the Student DJ for the month of April.  Sam's hour aired from 8  to 9 p.m. on April 7.

To get to know her better we asked Sam to answer a few questions about jazz:

From tender and soulful to hard-edged and gritty, Ernestine Anderson was one of the most versatile jazz vocalists to emerge from the big band era.

Anderson was born Nov. 11, 1928. At age 3, she could sing along with recordings of Bessie Smith; she soon moved on to the more refined environs of her local church's gospel choir. After winning a regional talent competition at age 12, the precocious Anderson landed a gig with trumpeter Russell Jacquet's big band.

“Ernestine Anderson 2013” by HappyHappyMe is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 bit.ly/21nqWqq

The renowned jazz vocalist Ernestine Anderson, whose career spanned six decades, has died at the age of 87.

According to the Seattle Times, Anderson attended Garfield High School and came up in Seattle’s jazz scene in the mid-1940s. She found success in Los Angeles and on the road — then at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and so many other places. She was nominated for a Grammy four times.

At the end of January, 2016, the University of Washington presented its 1st Annual Jazz Festival for High School Jazz Ensembles and Combos.  To help draw attention to this first festival a jazz quartet called The Intension came to KPLU for a live studio session.  The members of the band are all U-W seniors in the Jazz Studies Program and they did more than draw attention to the event.  They set the bar for excellence—for that festival and all the U-W festivals that will follow.  Prepare to be amazed.

Ian Mengadoht - alto

Note: Each month, KPLU invites a teen guest DJ to play his or her favorite pieces on the air.  The program is part of KPLU's School of Jazz.  

Jungwoo Lee from Bellevue High School is the Student DJ for the month of March.  Jungwoo's hour aired from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on March 3.

To get to know him better we asked Jungwoo to answer a few questions about jazz:

Which instrument do you play and why?

I play the clarinet. I was more or less “tricked” into playing the clarinet at first, but as I got better and as I got to experiment with the instrument, I fell in love with the potential and the variety of the instrument. Clarinet, though it seems a bit restricted to classical music, is capable of being featured in countless genres of music; everything from Benny Goodman’s classics to the recent Apple TV commercials.

What’s your all-time favorite jazz piece and why?

This quartet is made up of female high-school jazz students from all over the region.  They met through their work with Seattle Jazz Ed, a non-profit provider of year-round jazz classes and activities for young jazz musicians, no matter where the go to school or what their financial circumstances are. 

The 10:00 Quartet is just one example of the great benefit Seattle Jazz Ed provides when it comes to helping young players expand their social/musical networks creatively cross-pollinate with like-minded collaborators. 

Parker Miles Blohm

 

KPLU "School of Jazz" hit the road for our second studio session featuring a regional high school jazz band program (our first being the Point Grey Secondary School studio session in June at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival).

Note: Each month, KPLU invites a teen guest DJ to play his or her favorite pieces on the air.  The program is part of KPLU's School of Jazz.  

Blake Clawson and Matthew Tweten from Anacortes High School are the Student DJs for the month of February.  Blake and Matthew's hour aired from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on February 4th.

To get to know them better we asked Blake and Matthew to answer a few questions about jazz:

When Abe Beeson asked this band’s mentor, Mark Taylor, about his role in the group, part of Mark’s answer was that he wanted the musicians to feel good as an ensemble ‘and then letting that energy take over.’  Considering the fact that Mark only worked with the students twice before this studio session, his methodology must have worked.  The Everett High School All-Star Band completely nailed three songs in a row and had a great time doing it.

Like any music, jazz has its revolutions; its sudden incidents in infrastructure; its disruptive presences of unprecedented sound. Mostly it's slower than that, though, with years and generations of accretions before it seems to call for new vocabulary. That's one way to look at Winter Jazzfest, whose latest incarnation occupied a dozen or so venues in downtown New York City last weekend. In a decade and a half of steady growth, a one-night showcase oriented toward industry insiders has become nearly a weeklong landmark of the city's cultural calendar.

Guest Student DJ Jafar Daniel: Jazz Is A Society

Jan 7, 2016

Note: Each month, KPLU invites a teen guest DJ to play his or her favorite pieces on the air.  The program is part of KPLU's School of Jazz.  

Jafar Daniel from Shorewood High School is the Student DJ for the month of January.  Jafar's hour aired from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on January 7.

To get to know him better we asked Jafar to answer a few questions about jazz:

KPLU presented its annual holiday concert on December 10 with special guest, saxophonist Anton Schwartz, who performed with the Pacific Lutheran University Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Dr. David Deacon-Joyner.  Anton's quartet — including Dr. Deacon-Joyner on piano, bassist Clipper Anderson and drummer Mark Ivester — also played a few festive tunes.  The KPLU Christmas Jam was hosted by Kevin Kniestedt and broadcast live from the Karen Hille Phillips Performing Arts Center on the campus of PLU.

The KPLU performance studio recently had the pleasure to host yet another top-teir jazz group made of high-school  students participating in the Seattle Jazz Ed Program.  It’s the Boxwell-Feldman Quintet. 

Owen Boxwell (guitar) and Ben Feldman (bass) are Garfield High students who have been playing music together since they were in middle school and show no signs of stopping anytime soon. 

DAVE CHRISTENSEN / OPB

Pink Martini's Joy To The World" A Holiday Spectacular will air on KPLU, Saturday December 19 at 11 a.m., in place of Car Talk, and will rebroadcast on December 24, at 2 p.m.

The internationally acclaimed "little orchestra" Pink Martini decks the airwaves with festive holiday songs from around the globe. From timeless classics to rarely heard gems, here is a multi-denominational, multicultural jubilee that overflows with enough holiday spirit to warm your entire family. Joy To The World: A Holiday Spectacular will air on NPR stations throughout the holiday season.

Buddy Guy — 2014 Born to Play Guitar RCA  

You don’t have to read a book to learn the story of Buddy Guy’s life; it’s all here on this album. Back in 2008, Buddy Guy started collaborating with Nashville songwriter and producer Tom Hambridge, and four albums later that partnership is still flourishing, with a unique combination of Nashville songwriting sensibility and Buddy’s hard-core electric blues. At age 79, Buddy hasn’t exactly mellowed with age—he’s still a wild genius guitarist; his voice remains inviting and he tells his stories with utmost believability. He’s certainly on the short list of all-time greatest blues players, and this is my favorite blues release of the year.

Michael Jackson

Drummer Matt Wilson delights in being a little different.  His enthusiasm for the quirky is infectious, as I found out in our phone conversation last week.

Brenda Goldstein-Young / KPLU

Note: Each month, KPLU invites a teen guest DJ to play his or her favorite pieces on the air. The program is part of KPLU's School of Jazz.

Adam Zacharia from Meadowdale High School is the Student DJ for the month of December. Adam's hour aired from 8-9 p.m. on December 3.

To get to know him better we asked Adam to answer a few questions about jazz:

Which instrument do you play and why?

MATT ROBERTS / GETTY IMAGES

Over the course of a career that lasted some sixty years, pianist, producer and songwriter Allen Toussaint's music and sound became a hugely influential force for artists working in many different genres.

Toussaint died on Monday night in Madrid, at the age of 77.

Brenda Goldstein-Young / KPLU

KPLU School of Jazz recently hit the road for our second studio session featuring a regional high school jazz band program (our first being the Point Grey Secondary School studio session in June at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival).

 

Note: Each month, KPLU invites a teen guest DJ to play his or her favorite pieces on the air. The program is part of KPLU’s School of Jazz.

Which instrument do you play and why?

Augusta Sagnelli

Clarinetist Anat Cohen's transcendent appearances with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra last February are still resonating.

"I loved the trip to Seattle, loved meeting all the people there, the SRJO and other musicians. It was great time, and a wonderful hang," she said. "Everybody there is so nice.”

Her latest CD, "Luminosa" features a number of beautiful Brazilian melodies.  Anat first encountered the varied styles of Brazilian music when she was a student at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

edreedsings.com

Singer Ed Reed and saxophonist Anton Schwartz met almost 10 years ago in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Ed was 78 years old at the time, and was just beginning to get recognized as a jazz singer.

Partly due to his love of jazz, Ed has survived drug addiction and multiple prison terms.  Four CDs later, he’s been on the Downbeat Critic’s Poll list of “Rising Stars” for six years, topping that list in 2014. 

el diario archive

Born and raised in Cadiz, Spanish pianist Chano Domínguez recently moved his family to Seattle, adding a flamenco touch to our outstanding musical scene. 

"I have played in so many places around the world and in the USA, and for me, Seattle is one of the most wonderful cities.  We are very happy to be here," he says.

"I grew up in a poor family in the south of Spain, in Andalusia.  It was hard, because I didn't have an instrument, and I cried every year for a flamenco guitar. 

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