Jazz and Blues

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

“Crying the blues” perfectly describes the style of Sleepy John Estes. His music is not very complex, and he was a solid, but not a great guitarist.

Instead, Estes is known more for his ability to write about universal themes and to sing with deep emotion. He was a big influence on early bluesmen like Big Bill Broonzy and Arthur Crudup. He also was a big inspiration for later players like Michael Bloomfield, with whom he worked in the 1960s.

“Drop Down Mama” is a song of his that has re-surfaced several times. Sleepy John Estes and Hammie Nixon recorded it in 1935.

All day today, your $60 pledge (or greater) earns you a 2 for 1 Coupon at Jazz Alley in Seattle!You don’t even have to give $60 all at once. Become a Sustaining Member and break that down to only $5/month and a hassle-free membership to KPLU!

Make your gift to KPLU now!

In addition, we have a special treat to donors pledging $365 or more during Morning Jazz, Afternoon Jazz and Evening Jazz.  We are celebrating Earshot Jazz Thursday, and have 25 pair of tickets to an exclusive Earshot Jazz Festival performance!

Tired of all that quantum foam leakage coming from your regular grocery tote? Say goodbye to yesterday’s tired tote-tech … and hello to the new, improved KPLU “Turbo” Tote Bag!

For a gift of only $60 during our Fall Fund Drive, you too can own this modern marvel of space-age technology.

Web Wednesday exclusive: Make your pledge today, and in addition to receiving the "Turbo" Tote, your gift will count towards our goal of planting trees in a public radio forest (through the National Forest Foundation) in Spring 2012!

Jeff Bizzell

Singer Jacqui Naylor releases her 8th album, Lucky Girl, tomorrow. She is also performing tonight at Jazz Alley in Seattle as she kicks off her international tour. KPLU's Kevin Kniestedt spoke to Jacqui today about letting her fans choose the songs for her new album, her continued success with “acoustic smashing” and being the subject of a new documentary.

Read more on Groove Notes.

Now in its 11th season, Djangofest Northwest brings a world-class musical lineup to Langley on Whidbey Island to celebrate the music and spirit of Django Reinhardt and Gypsy Jazz.

Artists scheduled to perform this year range from local favorites to world-class international recording artists, making it the the premier showcase of Gypsy Jazz in North America.

Read more on Groove Notes.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Three-time Grammy winner Ramsey Lewis, who rose to prominence in the early 1970′s, released his 80th album, Ramsey, Taking Another Look today with his Electric Band.

“The idea of the electric quintet came up and having played mostly in an acoustic trio arrangement for twelve-fifteen years, I decided to get together with the guys to see how it felt," Lewis said.

Read more on Groove Notes.

Perhaps the most prolific time in the career of Miles Davis was from 1949 to 1959, and to pay tribute to these historic years in jazz and Davis’ career, CAMI Music has joined forces with Miles Davis Properties and Blue Note Records for an innovative music and historical production, The Miles Davis Experience: 1949-1959.

The tour will feature three shows in Washington State.

Read more on Groove Notes.

What to do this weekend … well if you are anywhere near Seattle, it’ll be tough to stay out of earshot of Bumbershoot.

But, let’s say you want to hear jazz at the mega-music-arts fest. Is there any there? Yes, but only on Sunday.

Associated Press

Delta blues guitarist David "Honeyboy" Edwards, one of the few living links to the mythic bluesman Robert Johnson, died on Monday at his home in Chicago, reports The New York Times. Edwards was 96.

The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music opened last week in the Musicians’ Village in New Orleans’s Upper 9th Ward.

The center is a performance hall and place where local students and musicians can make recordings, take classes and have access to computers and community rooms.

KPLU’s Kevin Kniestedt visited the site of the center in 2010.

Read more on Groove Notes.

“Blues in the Night” first was heard in the 1941 movie “Hot Nocturne."

Written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, it’s considered to be a landmark in American popular music because it was one of the first times that rural black dialect and an explicitly bluesy melody was used in a popular song.

Roy Manzanares / antonjazz.com

I had the opportunity this week to speak by phone with tenor saxophonist Anton Schwartz.

Anton recently moved to the Seattle area. I had the chance to ask him about what brought him to the Puget Sound, and how he has networked himself into the local jazz scene so far.

For the first "Blues Time Machine," I’ve chosen “Rollin’ and Tumblin’," a song that goes through some major changes on it’s way to the 21st century.

The story of "Rollin' and Tumblin'" also shows us that although the sound may evolve through time, the song remains true to the original.

Music superstars Eric Clapton and Wynton Marsalis got together last April for a concert at the Rose Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City. The concert featured songs hand-picked by Eric Clapton, then arranged by Marsalis, and included highlights such as a guest appearance by Taj Mahal.

While the concert will be released on September 13th on a CD/DVD combo pack (Warner Brothers, CLICK HERE TO BUY), there is an even better opportunity to hear this show for those of us who weren’t able to make the cross country trip to see the show live.

The Earshot Jazz Festival gets kicked off in Seattle on October 14th and runs through November 6th. While the full schedule does not get released until September, the early bookings feature a wonderful variety of top tier musicians.

Read more.

Bengt Nyman / Flickr

"Morning Edition" host Kirsten Kendrick and “All Blues” host John Kessler discuss the creation and inspiration behind Kessler’s new KPLU series: “The Blues Time Machine.”

Each week the new series follows one song through history – from its earliest recordings to its latest and, sometimes, most surprising interpretations. “The Blues Time Machine” airs on KPLU 88.5 on Fridays at 12:10 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Rick Diamond / WireImage.com

With students such as Quincy Jones and Miles Davis and a playing career that includes Duke Ellington and Count Basie, one would expect jazz great Clark Terry to have some pearls of wisdom and a few great stories to share.

And now that influence and inspiration will be brought to the screen in a documentary called “Keep on Keepin’ On.”

Read more.

The end of the Jazz Masters

Aug 2, 2011

For thirty years, the National Endowment for the Arts has honored jazz musicians with the highest award for the genre, the NEA Jazz Masters Award. However, in its latest appropriations request, the NEA removed specific reference to Jazz, Folk, and Opera.

The way KPLU’s Groove Notes blogger and Jazz on the Grooveyard host Kevin Kniestedt reads it, the new language means no more Jazz Masters.

Read more.

Katie Weilbacher / Flickr

With the non-summer we've been having and the fact that a lot of people can't afford to get away, allow us to give you a vacation for your mind.

Think beaches. Sunshine. Frozen drinks. Your soundtrack? Five great musicians who hail from the Caribbean.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

I’ve known Jazz Alley manager, Rob Perry, for almost 30 years.  At the end of July, Rob will retire from that job and I will join the many, many Jazz Alley habitués who will miss him.  In fact, though I sort of envy Rob for getting to retire while he’s still good-lookin’, we’re all gonna miss his presence at the club a lot.

In 2009, four busy jazz musicians — saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Eric Harland — gathered on a rare off day to see what they might cook up together. Out of that came a band they call James Farm, and an album of the same name.

Courtesty of Pearl Django

UPDATE: Tickets are now sold out for this event

Join us Sunday, August 14 for our 19th Summer Jazz Brunch Cruise, a relaxing, two-and-a-half hour cruise on Elliott Bay aboard the Royal Argosy.  Enjoy a scrumptious all-you-can-eat brunch, spectacular views, and great music from "that mighty engine of rhythm," Gypsy jazz masters, Pearl Django


The 27th Annual Victoria International JazzFest is underway now through July 3 in various venues in downtown Victoria.

JazzFest presents a culturally and musically diverse program of 85 stunning performances and four workshop/clinics on 12 stages in downtown Victoria. Over 350 musicians in 66 bands from over nine of the world's most diverse countries including Australia, Cuba, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S. will be performing in Victoria during the Fesival.

"If this isn't the best jazz festival in the world, please send us tickets to a better one."

~Paul de Barros, The Seattle Times

Vancouver's signature festival and British Columbia's biggest music showcase will animate the city for ten days, June 24 - July 3.

From noon to the wee small hours, a rich tapestry of jazz, blues, funk, Latin, fusion, electronica and world music will fill the air at venues big and small, indoor and outdoor across the city.

The Jazz Journalists Association held its annual awards ceremony on Saturday June 11.  A new award category was added this year:  Jazz Hero.  According to JJA,  Jazz Heroes are activists, advocates, altruists, aiders and abettors of jazz who have had significant impact in their local communities.

Honored as a Jazz Hero this year was Seattle's John Gilbreath, executive director of Earshot Jazz, radio host, artistic director of the Bellevue Jazz Festival and Seattle Art Museum's Art of Jazz concert series.  Congratulations, John!

See the complete list of this year's winners, including Lifetime Achievement in Jazz and Musician of the Year.

Do you have a musical instrument that you no longer play? 

If so, donate it to KPLU's Instrument Drive, in support of Seattle JazzED.  They're building a musical library where students can check out an instrument and learn to play jazz. With your help, we can get instruments into the hands of aspiring young musicians who want to learn to play music.

Get more information, and find a drop off location near you!

Only available online – purchase here

Several of Western Washington’s finest high school jazz bands and jazz professionals are showcased on KPLU School of Jazz – Volume 7, the station’s latest CD release which is the culmination of this year’s mentoring project.

It may not be a time-honored tradition just yet, but the Bellevue Jazz Festival is starting to become a regular habit for jazz fans across the region.

The Festival enters its fourth year featuring more than 35 jazz shows in downtown Bellevue, including free shows in clubs and restaurants. Ticketed concerts in the Meydenbauer Theatre include the Charles Lloyd Quartet with Zakir Hussain, Regina Carter, Chris Potter Underground, Tierney Sutton, and the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra plus the Bellevue Jazz Festival Rising Stars.

You'll find a complete schedule and ticket information at BellevueJazz.com

The Bellevue Jazz Festival is sponsored by KPLU.

Life Magazine

Miles Davis would have been 85 years old today, and the birth of the legendary trumpeter is being celebrated in several ways and places around the country today.

LIFE.com just posted never-before-seen photos of Miles from 1958.

Read more:

There are only a few spots left to join All Blues host John Kessler for KPLU's "Red, White & Blues Weekend" 2011 at the 24th Annual Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland July 1-4, 2011.

If you have been waiting to book your spot, the time to act is now as we are almost at capacity!

KPLU has put together a specially-priced listener package which reflects a 25% discount compared to retail prices. 

A world-class blues lineup will perform against the backdrop of the Willamette River with a view of the glacial peaks of Mt. Hood, including: Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Maceo Parker, Lucinda Williams, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Chubby Carrier, Black Joe Louis and the Honeybears, and many, many more!

Book your reservation now!