Jazz and Blues

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

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!

Dianne Reeves On Piano Jazz

May 18, 2011

This Piano Jazz episode from 1999 features one of today's preeminent jazz singers. Dianne Reeves brings her rhythmic virtuosity to a sparkling set of standards, including duets with host Marian McPartland on "Close Enough for Love" and "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise."

Paul deBarros / Twitpic

Two Western Washington high school bands finished in the top three at the "Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 16th Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival Saturday.

KING 5 TV reports Seattle's Roosevelt High School took second place and Mountlake Terrace High School took third.


Two, young and talented musicians: pianist Taylor Eigsti and vocalist Becca Stevens, will be in the KPLU studios for a live interview and performance today at 12:15 p.m

Stevens will join the Taylor Eigsti Quartet later tonight at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley for a 7:30 p.m. performance.

KPLU has received the Service to America Award from the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation (NABEF) for its School of Jazz program. 

The award recognizes outstanding community service by local broadcasters.  Winners will be honored at the Celebration of Service to America Awards dinner on Monday, June 6, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

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Join us for KPLU's "Red, White & Blues Weekend" 2011 at the 24th Annual Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland July 1-4, 2011.

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.  This year's artists include Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Maceo Parker, Lucinda Williams, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Chubby Carrier, Black Joe Louis and the Honeybears, and many, many more.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Imagine inventing something that enhanced a hobby that you were passionate about. That's what happened to KPLU music director Nick Francis.

He invented a musical mixing device called The Choppertone. He built it from a MIDI controller kit. And with it, he's able to mix different bits of audio together, to create a whole new sound or remix an old song.


Joe Lovano and his band, Us Five Live - is performing live in an 88.5 KPLU Studio Session today at 12:15 p.m. KPLU's Abe Beeson hosts.

April 2011 is the 10th anniversary of Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM), presented by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.  

The annual celebration pays tribute to jazz both as an historic and living art form, and encourages educators, jazz societies, musicians and the general public throughout the country to take part.

Steve Korn

Last night at Tula's, Earshot Jazz presented the annual Golden Ear Awards for top achievements in Jazz for the past year.  The Kora Band, whose members split their time between Seattle and Portland, picked up an award for Northwest Recording of the Year for their OA2  Records release, Cascades

Vocalist Gail Pettis was named Northwest Vocalist of the Year for the second time, and Bill Anschell, a pianist, composer and arranger was also honored for the second time as Northwest Instrumentalist of the Year. 

The full list of Golden Ear Award winners, including inductees to the Hall of Fame:



 Billie Holiday, considered one of the greatest jazz vocalists of all time, will be inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame later this year, on September 30-October 1, 2011 in Seneca Falls, NY, the birthplace of the American Women's Rights Movement.  Holiday, known for her deeply moving and personal vocals, remains a popular musical legend more than fifty years after her death.

The National Women's Hall of Fame, formed in 1969, has inducted 236 women including vocalists Ella Fitzgerald and Bessie Smith.


Herman Ernest III, the beloved drummer and musical director for Dr. John lost his nearly 3-year-long battle with cancer on Sunday morning.  

A funeral service will be held in New Orleans on Saturday, March 12 at First Pilgrim Baptist Church, 1228 Arts Street, preceded by a viewing at the church starting at 8 a.m. Burial will follow at St. Louis No. 3, 3421 Esplanade Avenue.


Today at the White House, President Obama will present the National Medal of Arts to ten creative Americans, including Sonny Rollins and Quincy Jones.

"I'm very happy that jazz, the greatest American music, is being recognized through this honor, and I'm grateful to accept this award on behalf of the gods of our music," Rollins said of the award.

Other honorees include author Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird), actress Meryl Streep and singer/songwriter James Taylor.

Watch the ceremony today at 10:45am PT (1:45pm ET) at www.whitehouse.gov/live

I want to wrap up this little series on the Jazz 100 with my own personal thoughts on the list and some of the comments and questions left by listeners/readers.

There were some thoughts that kept popping up in readers posts. One was “Why didn’t (insert song here) show up on the list?”. Another is “My list would look completely different from this one.” A third was “There is no way that Take Five” should be number 1.”

Let me start by saying that my own personal list would also look a bit different from this one. I’ve seen emails and posts from casual listeners to the very jazz educated saying the exact same thing.

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I'll be playing Nina Simone's "I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl" today at noon PT to start the Blue Plate Special.

Nina Simone's music inspired many, including a claymation artist.  This video comes from Aardman Animations, the folks who make Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep. 

Does anyone else think the bass player in this video looks like George Mraz?

If I Had My Way

Feb 23, 2011

Reverend Gary Davis was a legendary country blues/gospel guitarist and songwriter.  His song If I Had My Way was performed by the Peter, Paul and Mary and by the Grateful Dead (as Samson and Delilah).

Peter Yarrow's daughter Bethany and her musical partner Rufus Cappadocia played it for our Studio Session back in November.

Katy Bourne / Seattle Jazz Scene, allaboutjazz.com

Ron Hudson, internationally known jazz photograper and Seattle resident, passed away yesterday.  He had a career spanning 30-plus years full of breathtaking images and music.  A memorial service is being planned. 

A collection of images from Ron's website

Ron Hudson's book Right Down Front

So now you’ve seen the Jazz 100 list selected by our listeners, and you’ve got some introductory analysis on by Kirsten Kendrick and myself.

I felt that it was appropriate for the next step to be getting some thoughts from a fresh pair of eyes…and who better than two of the best in the business, KPLU’s Midday Jazz host Robin Lloyd and Evening Jazz host Abe Beeson?

See their thoughts on the Groove Notes blog

Sad to report the passing of British jazz pianist George Shearing, who died Monday from congestive heart failure in New York. He was 91. 

He came to the U.S. in 1947 and quickly established himself as a popular instrumentalist and composer. His recording of "September In The Rain" sold nearly a million copies, and his tune "Lullaby of Birdland" became a popular jazz favorite.

Listen to the Q&A here:

What is the greatest jazz recording ever? That's the questions we asked listeners of KPLU and our jazz stream Jazz 24. From that, we came up with our list of the Top 100 Quintessential Jazz Songs of All Time.

KPLU music and news host Kevin Kniestedt tabulated the nearly 3,000 votes.  One thousand five hundred songs were nominated over a period of several weeks.

zzazazz / Flickr

I’ll admit I wasn’t a big fan of the blues before I started working here at KPLU. I didn’t know much about the music. But that changed when I started listening to the blues songs we play. I discovered I really like the blues and the bare-bones, gritty nature of it. So, why mess that up with a fancy remix, right? Wrong.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve asked you to vote for your favorite jazz songs so that KPLU (along with our 24-hour jazz stream - Jazz24.org) can create a webstream of the 100 quintessential jazz songs of all time. 

Well, the response has been overwhelming! Thousands of votes have come in and we’re now tabulating the results and gathering the songs.

Courtesy Sony/BMB Masterworks

He's made his list, and checked it twice. KPLU All Blues host John Kessler has his 2010 top 10 blues albums list, and he's ready to share it with you.  What albums are on your list? Which from John's list would you not include?  Let's hear what you have to say!

If you are looking for some jazz in holiday style to get your hands on, you might want to consider these Christmas jazz albums I've listed on Groove Notes. Some might be more of a challenge to track down than others.

Gail Pettis and Dr. David Deacon-Joyner perform at the KPLU Christmas Jam
Justin Steyer / KPLU

The 14th-Annual KPLU Christmas Jam, our much-anticipated annual free holiday concert and live broadcast, was held on the Pacific Lutheran University campus on December 9, 2010.

This year we featured acclaimed jazz vocalist Gail Pettis, as well as the PLU Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Robert Miller. They performed classic holiday favorites from "This Christmas" to "Baby It's Cold Outside," and closed the program with an audience sing-along of "White Christmas."

Seven years in the making, ‘JAZZ: The Smithsonian Anthology’ will be released by Smithsonian Folkways on March 29th, 2011.

The six-CD box set traces the turning points of this 20th-century tale through its legendary innovators and exemplary exponents: Armstrong, Ellington, Basie, Parker, Gillespie, Davis, Hancock, Corea, Coltrane and many more. The set opens with Scott Joplin’s 1899 “Maple Leaf Rag” and spans the entire century, closing with Tomasz Stańko’s 2003 “Suspended Night Variation VIII.”


Nominations for the Grammy Awards were announced last night. KPLU host, and jazz blogger Kevin Kniestedt has compiled a list of nominations in jazz categories, as well as some other categories in which jazz artists are included.

Celebrate Hallowe’en with Jazz Northwest as we feature some ghostly apparitions and scary music from resident Northwest musicians on the show. We’ll also have some samples of some of the artists who’ll be appearing during this coming final week of the 22nd annual Earshot Festival. Sunday at 1 - Hallowe’en on Jazz Northwest from 88-5, KPLU.

AP Photo

Jazz saxophone legend Sonny Rollins celebrated his 80th birthday on September 7th. KPLU's Kirsten Kendrick and Nick Morrison used the opportunity to talk about Rollins' life and play some of his great music. As part of a monthly contribution to NPR's music Web site, Nick compiled a list of five Sonny Rollins' songs that span his extensive career. And Nick talked with Kirsten about some of his selections.

Kirsten: Nick, when did Sonny Rollins first start coming into focus for jazz fans?