Jazz and Blues

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

Thirty years after presenting its first concerts in San Francisco, the organization SFJAZZ has built a permanent home and performance venue. The SFJAZZ Center, conceived as the first stand-alone building for jazz in the U.S., opens with a star-studded concert tonight, hosted by Bill Cosby. 

Artists include: McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Esperanza Spalding, Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano, Bobby Hutcherson, Mary Stallings, John Handy, Pete Escovedo, Eric Reed, and more! 


Thirty years after presenting its first concerts in San Francisco, the organization SFJAZZ has built a permanent home and performance venue. The SFJAZZ Center, conceived as the first stand-alone building for jazz in the U.S., opened with a star-studded concert on Jan. 23.

Listen to the concert. Video will be available in the following days. 


On the day we celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., let's revisit his thoughts on Jazz and Blues from his address to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival:


This native of the South Bronx grew up with jazz and Cuban music simultaneously.  Playing trumpet and conga drums, he came up in the bands of Dizzy Gillespie, Eddie Palmieri and Manny Oquendo. 

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of joining Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton on All Songs Considered as they previewed some of the big upcoming releases of 2013. My pick was No Beginning, No End by the chameleonic vocalist Jose James.

Blind Willie Johnson was a bluesman and a preacher. His lyrics were spiritual, and his music was blues.

Though he only made 30 recordings, his work is a lasting part of the blues legacy. Early players like Son House and Fred McDowell played his tunes, and his influence reached people like Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin. In 1930 he recorded “The Soul of a Man” accompanied by his wife, Willie B. Harris.

Juan Cruz / eddiepalmierimusic.com

Pianist, composer and bandleader Eddie Palmieri will be one of four National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters honored this year on Monday January 14 at Lincoln Center.

We are putting together a list of the 50 Quintessential Jazz Vocals of All Time. 

According to who? Well, according to you!  

This is your chance to cast your vote for the songs you think should be on a 'best-of'' jazz vocals list. Vote for up to three songs, and please include the song title and artist's name. 

After we compile the results, the quintessential 50 will be available for streaming on Jazz24.org and KPLU.org.


"I believe I’ll dust my broom" is an old saying meaning to make a new start.

With that catchy phrase, and a distinctive guitar riff Robert Johnson created an important piece of blues history when he recorded “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom” in 1936.

Bobby Sanabria

The nominees for Best Latin Jazz Recording for the Grammy Awards in 2013 have been announced, and the winners of the Latin Grammys have already been awarded.

This is the best of the rest, the Latin Jazz that you might have missed this year, and there are some stellar performances here.  With gratitude to Latin Jazz Network and Latin Jazz Corner, let me encourage you to explore some of the lesser-known and newer artists of Latin Jazz.

Henry Thomas is literally a link to an earlier time.

Born in 1874, his music is a patchwork of blues, rags and folk songs. His use of quills, or pan-pipes, is a relic of a nearly vanished African American tradition. Listening to Henry Thomas gives a glimpse of what music might have sounded like before “the blues."


There's nothing quite like a Latin Jazz celebration of any occasion.  It's the ultimate party music!  If you're in Seattle, WA or in Oakland, CA, you can spend New Year's Eve with one of the masters of the Latin groove:

Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band at Jazz Alley, Seattle

Multiple Grammy award winner, and this year's Lifetime Achievement Award recipient from the Latin Grammys, Poncho and his band mix jazz, latin and soul for a tasty and dance-able feast.

What's on KPLU Christmas Day

Dec 24, 2012

We’ll have a full-day of Holiday Jazz and some specials on Christmas Day. Here’s the line-up:

Sonny Boy Williamson’s career had a wide range. He played with Robert Johnson in the 1930’s and with Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page in the 1960’s. His ability to span eras is a testament to the timelessness of his voice and harmonica.

Sonny Boy Williamson recorded “Help Me” in 1963, and it bears a striking similarity to the instrumental “Green Onions," from Booker T and the MGs one year earlier. It is unusual because it uses minor chords, and has a sort of dark and foreboding sound.

Here are the top 10 Blues albums of 2012 according to KPLU's John Kessler, host of "All Blues" and "The Blues Time Machine" and co-host of "Record Bin Roulette".

JOAN OSBORNE:  BRING IT ON HOME,  Saguaro Road Records

A Cuban Christmas

Dec 20, 2012

Christmas Eve is celebrated in Cuba, not Christmas Day.  

It's called Noche Buena, and it includes food, music, dancing and gatherings.

A traditional Cuban Noche Buena feast consists of plenty of roast pig (yes, a whole one), black beans and rice, fried plantains and yucca with garlic.  To wash it all down:  mojitos, cuba libres, or a sidra (sparkling hard cider).  Desserts include rice pudding and rum cake.  I can feel the food coma starting already.

This song emphasizes the “rhythm” in “rhythm & blues."

“Mercy, Mercy” or “Have Mercy” was recorded by Don Covay in 1964. It features 22-year-old Jimi Hendrix on guitar. He’s still a few years away from his own solo career, but his guitar playing is recognizable.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

KPLU’s much-anticipated free holiday concert, featured guest artists, Gypsy-Jazz masters Pearl Django live from Lagerquist Hall in the Mary Baker Russell Music Center on the Pacific Lutheran University campus. 

Pearl Django performed Christmas selections with the University Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Dr. David Deacon-Joyner. The event, hosted by Nick Morrison, can be listened to in its entirety above, and will also re-broadcast on KPLU Christmas Day from 2 p.m. - 3 p.m.

Dani Gurgel

This year's Grammy Awards will see the reinstatement of the Latin Jazz category that was deleted in the recent "consolidation" of ethnic music categories by the Recording Academy.

Nominated for 2013 Best Latin Jazz Album:

It’s a modern blues standard with roots in the 1920’s, one of Willie Dixon’s many great compositions, and it can trace its origin in part to a Charlie Patton song from 1929: “A Spoonful Blues."

Verve Records

One of the most appealing Latin Jazz/Pop crossover artists was vibraphonist Cal Tjader (chay-der).

Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, responsible for the recording of the seminal album Time Out which still ranks as one of the best selling albums of all-time, and the first jazz musician to have a single sell 1 millions albums, died this morning of heart failure. He was 91.

In 1951, he formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet, and made a regular habit of touring and and performing at college campuses, bringing his musical approach to a younger audience. In 1954, Brubeck became only the second musician at that time to appear on the cover of Time Magazine.

The career that Brubeck sustained had an enormous impact on musicians and fans.

Read More on Groove Notes

To listen to Neda Ulaby's appreciation of Dave Brubeck's life and career, as heard on All Things Considered, click the audio link.

For millions of Americans who came of age in the 1950s, Dave Brubeck was jazz. His performances on college campuses, Top 40 radio play, his role as a jazz ambassador for the U.S., his picture on the cover of Time magazine — all made him one of the most recognized and recognizable musicians of the era.

He died Wednesday morning, the day before his 92nd birthday, in Norwalk, Conn. The cause was heart failure.

Wikimedia Commons

Jazz icon Dave Brubeck has died this morning in a Connecticut hospital one day short of his 92nd birthday. 

Long-time manager-producer-conductor Russell Gloyd told The Chicago Tribune that Brubeck died of heart failure en route to "a regular treatment with his cardiologist." 

Brubeck attained pop-star status over the course of his long career with songs such as "Blue Rondo a la Turk" and "Take Five" (which easily secured the #1 spot on our Jazz 100 list).

Gabriel Rodríguez

It's been said that Cuba and New Orleans are more than musical cousins; they are more like twins and equally responsible for much of what we call jazz.  And I've often heard New Orleans described by its multi-cultural natives as being not a Southern city, but a Caribbean city.

These days getting the word out is probably easier and quicker than it has ever been, and for whatever reason jazz musicians seem to struggle to understand this.

So I have decided to offer up these five easy tips on how jazz musicians can better promote themselves and their music with very minimal time and effort using “modern” technology.

Read the story on Groove Notes.

Groove Notes writer and KPLU jazz and news host Kevin Kniestedt lists the 10 jazz releases (and some honorable mentions) that he feels rose to the top in 2012.

Read more on Groove Notes.

The 16th Annual KPLU Christmas Jam, 88.5 KPLU’s much-anticipated FREE holiday concert, features guest artists, Gypsy jazz masters Pearl DjangoThursday, December 6, 2012 from noon to 1 p.m. at Lagerquist Hall in the Mary Baker Russell Music Center on the Pacific Lutheran University campus.  Pearl Django 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.

Bruno Bollaert, volume12

The 13th Annual Latin Grammy Awards will  air live  in the United States on the Univision Network  from 8–11 p.m. ET/PT (7 p.m. Central) tonight.

Here are the nominiees for the Best Latin Jazz Album: