Jazz and Blues

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

Originally, a limited vinyl release by the National Press Club in 1972, one of the last recordings of Louis Armstrong will be available widely for the first time via Smithsonian Folkways Recordings on April 24th as part of the Smithsonian’s celebration of the 11th annual Jazz Appreciation Month.

Armstrong often signed letters “Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours,” which makes for an apt title for the recording especially since his favorite recipes ― everything from Louisiana Caviar to the Sazerac ― are included in the liner notes, as they were in the original pressing.

Read more on Groove Notes.

The Associated Press

Every so often, a barrage of articles and blog posts come out claiming that jazz has found the musician or musicians that are going to “save” jazz. More often than not, these musicians are achieving some current commercial success and popularity among a broad audience outside of the typical “jazz head” community.

But what would it mean to "save jazz"? And, what exactly does it need "saving" from?

Read more on Groove Notes.

As another successful pledge drive ends this season we hope you will continue to enjoy the commercial-free programming on KPLU, especially knowing you did your part to make it happen.

If you missed the pledge drive and would like to support KPLU, you can still be counted through April 9th!

We would also like to thank the various businesses who supported our volunteers and staff during the Spring Pledge Drive

Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

Dick Hyman was born March 8, 1927, in New York City. Classically trained, Hyman was drawn to jazz at an early age. Today, he's a living, breathing, swinging encyclopedia of jazz piano history, from ragtime and stride to bebop and beyond.

To hear my conversation with KPLU's Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick, click on the listen button above.

Jazz icon Ella Fitzgerald’s voice is recognized by millions around the world. But few know about her career-defining friendship with Marilyn Monroe, to whom Fitzgerald said she “owe a real debt.”

While touring in the ’50s under the management of Norman Granz, Fitzgerald, like many African-American musicians at the time, faced significant adversity as a result of her race, especially in the Jim Crow states. Granz was a huge proponent of civil rights, and insisted that all of his musicians be treated equally at hotels and venues, regardless of race.

Skerik’s most recent project released this week – Skerik’s Bandalabra: Live at the Royal Room – includes working with Seattle musicians Andy Coe (electric guitar), Evan Flory-Barnes (upright bass), and Donne Lewis (drums).

Skerik explains that it is a change of pace from the rock bands since a lot of the music is created in the moment.

Read more on Groove Notes.

Ray Pettis

Guitarist Peter Bernstein's recent appearance at Egan's in Seattle will be featured on Jazz Northwest on Sunday March 4 at 1 PM Pacific on 88.5 KPLU. Peter has been a part of the jazz scene in New York and abroad since 1989. He has played on over 60 recordings as well as festival, concert and club performances with musicians from all generations. His latest recording as a leader is Live At Smalls featuring Richard Wyands, John Webber, and Jimmy Cobb.

The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival is back for another year at the University of Idaho in Moscow. Now ten years after the death of its namesake, the festival, like many such celebrations, is challenged by a changing jazz industry.

Read more on Groove Notes.

Jazz at Lincoln Center announced this morning the 15 finalist bands and one winning community band for its prestigious 17th Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival. Among the finalists were three bands from Washington State.

Read more on Groove Notes.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

The Grammy Awards were given out in the jazz categories during the pre-telecast ceremonies on Sunday. Check out the winners and the results of our reader poll.

Read more on Groove Notes.

The Associated Press

When the Grammy Awards revealed last year that they were reducing the number of award categories from 109 down to 78, it didn’t take long for those affected to show their displeasure. And, the passion hasn't died down. This year, members of the Latin jazz community will be protesting the awards ceremony.

Read more on Groove Notes.

For non-playing participants, jam sessions can be difficult musical experiences. As "hangs," or social gatherings, they aren't so bad — sometimes you learn a lot by talking to the musicians there. But the quality of the music itself often varies. It only takes a mediocre performance to sour the mood, and a poor showing can turn you off altogether, especially if you've paid money to see it.

library of congess

Blues evolved from many different sources including spirituals, work songs, and chants. “Rock Island Line” began as a work song, first recorded in 1934 by prisoners at Cummins Farm in Arkansas. The rhythm of physical labor is integral to songs like these.

James Demaria, photographer, filmmaker and soul searcher, became friends with trumpeter Kermit Ruffins about 5 years ago. They decided to try to make a film about Kermit’s musical upbringing in New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood.

The result, "Treme Life," turned into a love letter to New Orleans.

Read more on Groove Notes.

Alison Wise / AP Photo

The "Matriarch of the Blues" has died. Music legend Etta James died at Riverside Community Hospital in California from complications of leukemia. She was 73. In tribute, here are five songs from James.

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