Jazz and Blues

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

Fifty years ago, on Feb. 12, 1964, Miles Davis led a band through one of the most exciting gigs to ever take place at New York's Philharmonic Hall. The show was a cultural event: a benefit for voter registration in Louisiana and Mississippi at the high point of the the civil rights movement, and an unofficial homage to John F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated a few months before.

Earl King is one of the great songwriters and performers to come out of New Orleans, and his legacy continues to live on. Many of his compositions, including “Big Chief," “Trick Bag” and “These Lonely, Lonely Nights” have become an important part of the New Orleans “songbook."

His 1960 recording of “Come On Pts. 1 & 2” is punctuated with many starts and stops, featuring his expressive voice and aggressive and precise guitar work. If you look through Jimi Hendrix’s early releases, there are only a handful of songs among the dozens that he did not write. Earl King’s “Come On” is one of those.

The urban blues of places like Detroit and Chicago came from country blues. Little Son Joe and his better known partner Memphis Minnie were among the players who brought the blues to the cities, paving the way for Muddy Waters and others who would follow.

Memphis Minnie is known as one of the best guitarists and singers in the blues, and had a prolific career lasting 40 years. She married Little Son Joe (Ernest Lawlars) in the late 1930’s and they recorded “Black Rat Swing” in 1941 with Joe on vocals.

KPLU is excited to announce our first listener trip of the year, which you won't want to miss:A Taste of San Francisco”—a jazz, food and art lover’s trip to the City by the Bay (and home of Rice-a-Roni), March 20-23, 2014—with special guest, KPLU's Food for Thought commentator Nancy Leson.  The trip features Wynton Marsalis in concert at the new, state-of-the-art SFJAZZ Center, culinary tours, and a visit to the renowned de Young Museum

10 Artists You Should Have Known In 2013

Dec 26, 2013
Courtesy of the artist

It's usually easy to keep up with your favorite artists. You can follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook and check them out when they come to your town.

Falling in love with unfamiliar bands? That's not quite as simple. There are so many aspiring musicians out there, you can't possibly listen to all of them.

But a few lucky people get to listen to random new artists for a living, including public radio hosts. So we asked NPR stations around the country to highlight their favorite musical discoveries of the year. The results ranged from a Pulitzer Prize winner to stars of the Kansas City BBQ circuit.

Read on for more about the 10 artists you should have known in 2013.

Scott Newton

Stevie Ray Vaughan almost single-handedly brought blues to the mainstream in the 1980’s and 90’s with over a dozen Billboard singles and four Grammy awards. He’ll always be considered one of the most original guitar players of all time.

Though musically untrained, he was an astute student of the blues, and much of what he popularized is built on the work of his fellow Texas bluesmen.

Chances are you’ve heard Peggy Lee’s iconic version of “Fever”– it’s one of the steamiest love songs ever written. But the original recording was released two years earlier by Little Willie John in 1956.

“Sweet Home Chicago” is one of the best known blues songs ever written. But historians seem to agree that when Robert Johnson recorded the song in 1936, he borrowed heavily to make his masterpiece.

“Kokomo Blues” is clearly one of the building blocks of that better known blues song. Scrapper Blackwell came out with it in 1928.

Here’s a perfect example of a song that changed with the times, and was at the cutting edge of those changes.

Drummer and singer Rabon Tarrant recorded “Blues With a Feeling” in 1947, a time when big band swing music was in transition to rock and roll. This version straddles both genres with the beat of rock and roll, but the more jazzy instrumentation of piano, sax and trumpet.

Hooks Brothers

If I had to pick one person to represent Delta blues at the peak of its expression, it would be Robert Johnson.

Saying that he was a superlative guitar player, impassioned singer and masterful lyricist seems barely adequate to convey the importance of the work he accomplished in his 27 years. Many of his songs became not only blues standards but would be a huge influence on rock music.

Steve Korn

Pianist, composer, arranger, humorist and world traveler Bill Anschell brings his "Peru Trio" to the Art of Jazz series at the Seattle Art Museum tonight at 5:30.  It's part of the Earshot Jazz Festival.

The 17th Annual KPLU Christmas Jam, 88.5 KPLU’s much-anticipated FREE holiday concert, features jazz vocalist Cheryl Jewell and her trio--Thursday, December 5, 2013 from noon to 1 p.m. at Lagerquist Hall in the Mary Baker Russell Music Center on the Pacific Lutheran University campus.  Cheryl will perform Christmas selections with the University Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Dr. David Deacon-Joyner.  The event will be hosted by KPLU’s Nick Morrison and broadcast live on KPLU.  A live video stream will also be available at www.kplu.org

Sonny Boy Williamson was a blues originator who helped shape the sound of modern blues. In his life, he knew the first generation of Delta bluesmen, and would go on to see the birth of modern rock music. He played with Robert Johnson in the 1930’s, and with Eric Clapton in the 1960’s. His ability to span eras is a testament to the timelessness of his voice and harmonica.

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 Latin jazz flutist Dave Valentin suffered a stroke in March 2012, and has been unable to work since then.  A benefit concert will take place tonight, Nov. 7, at the Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, N.Y.  The show will help raise funds to pay his medical expenses and basic living needs.

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