Jazz and Blues

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

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:

Bob French, New Orleans drummer and bandleader, has died

Nov 13, 2012

Bob French, an iconic New Orleans drummer who led the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band for decades, died Monday, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. He was 74.

Washington DC Jazz Network

The talented and versatile Latin jazz and be-bop pianist Hilton Ruiz died in June of 2006 in New Orleans.  He'd gone there to make a video to accompany a CD he'd recorded, a tribute to and benefit for the recently flooded and hurricane-ravaged city. 


The drums known as timbales are yet another example of the uniquely Cuban inclination to mix European instrumentation with African rhythms.  Timbales fuel Cuban dances like the Danzón and the Mambo, and are widely used in Salsa music, Latin jazz and rock.


Recognition for female instrumentalists in Jazz is rare enough, and it's even tougher for women in Latin Jazz. Most Latin cultures are still, shall we say, a bit chauvinistic.

Here are two women who have overcome cultural and other barriers to follow their dreams of creating music:

Schedule changes coming to KPLU's Sunday lineup

Oct 21, 2012

Beginning Sunday, October 28 we’re making some changes to our Sunday program schedule. Here’s a summary:


I decided to drop Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland because the show has been in reruns for over two years and listening has dropped off significantly over that time. It was not an easy decision as Marian McPartland has been on KPLU for 32 years!

If you still want to listen to Piano Jazz you can subscribe to the podcast: http://www.npr.org/rss/rss.php?id=24

Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

In my never-ending quest to learn as much as possible about the music I love, I often run across interesting books and movies that I'll occasionally share with you on Jazz Caliente.

While not specifically Latin jazz, these movies caught my eye recently, and each provides some insight into various Afro-Cuban music styles:


Mark your calendar for some great live Latin Jazz in October and November!

Wednesday is the birthday anniversary of pianist and composer Thelonious Monk. Thursday is the birthday anniversary of drummer Art Blakey. The two were born two years and one day apart: Monk in 1917, Blakey in 1919. The two are among the most influential musicians in jazz history, and — appropriately, somehow — were close colleagues throughout their careers. In fact, Blakey played on Monk's first three recording sessions as a bandleader.

KPLU is now accepting applications for 2012/2013 (Volume 9) from schools that are new to the School of Jazz program. The goal is to work with diverse schools and jazz programs: those with award-winning jazz bands, those who crave mentoring, and/or those who want the experience of recording a CD.

Jeff Croft

Conguero and bandleader Poncho Sanchez will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Latin Recording Academy (Latin Grammys) in November.  Poncho's collaboration with trumpeter Terence Blanchard Chano y Dizzy is also nominated for Best Latin Jazz Album.

When listening to Diana Krall's fun, smart new recording Glad Rag Doll, it's helpful to consider a question recently posed by Gyp Rosetti, the sensitive psychopath lending sparks to this season of HBO's Prohibition-era series Boardwalk Empire.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

The Fall Fund Drive is already half way over, and will end at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday. If you enjoy our studio sessions, and all of the programming you hear each day on KPLU, please show your support today and help us reach our goal of $400,000 in 4 days before time runs out!

Speaking of studio sessions, let's take a look back at the five most popular in-studio performances from the past year:

Clave (klah-vay) is the basic defining rhythm of Latin Jazz and other types of African, Cuban,  South American and even Australian Aboriginal music.  The claves are wooden sticks used to produce the rhythm.

For conservatory-trained jazz musicians, it's a scary job market out there. Saxophonist Dave Liebman, an NEA Jazz Master and veteran statesman, paints a bleak picture:

In the current world of jazz education, the situation vis a vis graduating more and more of the most equipped musicians in history (every year more so) in stark contrast to the scarcity of paid performance and recording opportunities has assumed epic disproportion. To deny this would be like ignoring global warming. Serious educators are and should be concerned.

Enter here to win!

The Gate (2011) pointed Elling in a new and satisfyingly emotional direction. He has somehow found a way to make a deeply personal statement out of the music of King Crimson, Joe Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and the Beatles, in addition to providing a new and vibrant understanding of Miles Davis, Bill Evans, and Herbie Hancock. That Elling is first and foremost a jazz singer makes the work searching and enthralling. His phrasing is cool and meditative as he ventures into areas usually reserved for instrumentalists. As a lyricist, Elling breathes new life into gems previously known only for their melodies.

The animated film Chico y Rita was released to DVD this week.  It's been playing in the UK and in film festivals world-wide for two years, to glowing reviews. It was nominated Best Animated Feature Film for the 2012 Oscars.

The music of saxophonist/clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera and trumpeter/ pianist Arturo Sandoval has been censored from Cuban airwaves for decades now,  since they both defected to the U.S.  

Bandmates and founding members of the legendary Cuban group Irakere, both took advantage of musical world tours to make their escape.  Both have also gone on to make incredibly successful international careers, but still, it has to hurt to know that your name has been erased from your native country's cultural history.

The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 was a disaster that reshaped the South. With flooding in 10 states, the river below Memphis reached 60 miles across in some places. Not only was farmland swallowed up, but many poor blacks were forced to work rebuilding levees. With no crop that year, many headed north in what was part of a large migration to urban centers.

Alan Nahigian

Two informative, fun and  in-depth resources for learning about Latin music debuted  in 2009:  the interactive exhibit American Sabor  and the PBS series  Latin Music USA.