Jazz and Blues

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

Justin Kauflin is a young twentysomething pianist who, at age 11, lost his eyesight.

Jazz legend Clark Terry — the revolutionary flugelhornist who played with Count Basie and Duke Ellington, and mentored Quincy Jones and Miles Davis — shares something with Kauflin. Diabetes claimed his eyesight.

But that’s not the only reason the two musicians, who are separated by nearly 70 years, became close friends. The story of the bond between teacher and mentee is told in the new documentary “Keep On Keepin’ On,” which is being shown at this year’s Seattle International Film Festival. The film also celebrates Terry, who, even from his hospital bed, coaches Kauflin as he sets out to forge his own jazz career.

Michael Hoefner

I had a delightful telephone chat last week with Juan de Marcos, leader of the Afro Cuban All Stars.

Known as the "Quincy Jones of Cuba," Juan de Marcos comes from a family of musicians.  His father was a well-known singer with famed tres player and bandleader Arsenio Rodriguez, and his uncle, Ruben Gonzalez, was one of Cuba's most beloved pianists.  Juan grew up with some of the finest Cuban musicians visiting and playing music in his home.


I got my start in public/community radio at WFBE in Flint, Michigan in the late 1970s. I talked my way into being the self-appointed assistant, apprentice and substitute for a Thursday night program called John's Jazz.

The show was hosted by John R. Davis, journalist and unmatched jazz enthusiast. He very kindly let me tag along and learn things about music and radio.

John’s Jazz theme song was "On The Sunny Side Of The Street" featuring Johnny Hodges on sax.

Get more information and purchase your tickets here!


The long-awaited film about legendary jazz trumpeter Clark Terry "Keep On Keepin' On"  won an audience choice award at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, and will be shown next week in the Seattle International Film Festival.  The documentary follows the relationship of Terry with one of his many students, pianist Justin Kauflin.

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.


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. 


“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.

KPLU School of Jazz-Volume 10 (physical CD) is available for purchase here - or order a digital copy below.

Today is International Jazz Day. UNESCO created this celebratory day in 2011 to promote “the virtues of jazz as an educational tool, and a force for peace, unity, dialogue and enhanced cooperation among people.” 


We started our Jazz Appreciation Month Song Of The Day posts with a tune from Miles Davis, but this was before I was including bonus tracks, so I thought I'd end with Miles as well. I doubt anyone will argue that Miles is one of the major figures in jazz and deserves the spotlight. 


Horace Silver is another one of the true originals in jazz. All jazz musicians strive to have a unique, identifiable sound, and Horace achieved that early on in his career. His percussive, hard-driving style is recognizable within a few notes and his compositions are some of the most well crafted and beloved in jazz history. Few can match the number of compositions that have become standards, including "The Preacher," "Senor Blues," "Sister Sadie," and his most famous tune, "Song For My Father."


Sam Rivers is another of those musicians who's profile is huge among musicians and almost non-existent among non-musicians. His contributions to jazz as a player, composer and host of jazz "loft" shows cannot be overstated. He was an early adopter of free jazz and combined very outside playing with compositions with structure in new ways in the '60s and '70s.


It's a gorgeous sun-filled day here in Seattle, and I can feel summer coming! The weather put me in mind of one of the greatest jazz documentaries of all time, "Jazz On A Summer's Day." Bert Stern documented the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival in a film that has incredible cinematography, amazing music, and no dialog of any kind!


In the liner notes to the album "Blues' Moods," where you'll find today's song, trumpeter Blue Mitchell is referred to as the "middleweight champion of the trumpet." This was actually stolen from a line someone used about the tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, but I think it suits both men well. The gist of the comment is that while neither of these players were necessarily innovative or boundary-pushing, they could each play the heck out of their respective instruments!