Jazz

Justin Kauflin: A Pianist And His Mentor

Jun 26, 2014
Aaron Hushagen / KPLU

Justin Kauflin is a 23-year-old jazz pianist who is also one of the subjects of a new documentary film called Keep On Keepin’ On.

The other subject of the film is Justin’s musical and spiritual mentor, jazz trumpet legend, Clark Terry. Kauflin has been a musician since childhood. He’s also been blind since age 11. The film deals with Justin’s apprenticeship and friendship with the 93-year-old Terry.

This show comes from Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, where we recorded Chris Amemiya's Jazz Coalescence at the 14th Annual Jazz at the Labs, a benefit for the FridayHarbor Labs K-12 Science Outreach Program.  Although well-known as a trombonist in the jazz community, Dr.Amemiya is by day a research biologist at the Benaroya Research Institute and a full professor in the Biology Department at The University of Washington.

The Friday Harbor Labs are on a 484 acre biological preserve on the North side of Friday Harbor and well located for research on many aspects of marine biology and oceanography. It’s a fascinating place to visit, and very friendly to visiting jazz musicians and fans.  This concert by Jazz Coalescence features some of Seattle’s best: Chris Amemiya on trombone, Jay Thomas on trumpet and saxes, John Hansen at the piano, Jon Hamar on bass and Steve Korn on drums. Kelley Johnson will also be heard in a few songs.

Jazz Northwest samples the wide variety of jazz available in the Pacific Northwest each week. This week we have a sneak preview of the forthcoming CD by the young Chilean saxophonist Melissa Aldana who will play a single gig on the West Coast next week.

It's at Jimmy Mak's in Portland presented by PDX Jazz. She was the winner of the Thelonious Monk Competition last year.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Most KPLU listeners are familiar with tenor saxophonist, Ernie Watts, though his excellent work with Charlie Haden’s Quartet West. 

However, as we learn in this performance/interview with jazz host Abe Beeson, Mr. Watts has had a multifaceted career, working with everyone from Buddy Rich to The Rolling Stones.

Ernie is joined in this performance by Seattle pianist, Marc Seales, bassist Dave Captain and drummer Gary Hobbs.

Jazz Serendipity

Jun 8, 2014

Serendipity is defined as the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

It's also a word that can apply to a lot of good jazz experiences... the unexpected combination of musicians, a scrap of improvisation that inspires a new development in the music or even an unusual location to hear jazz. 

This episode of Jazz Northwest includes several unusual encounters between musicians, audiences and spaces, most of them from live performances with Steve Kaldestad, Jay Thomas, Danny Kolke, Pete Christlieb, Jacqueline Tabor, Mike Allen, Hugh Fraser and others, plus a 1984 UW Studio Jazz Band that includes some of today's top Seattle players.

Justin Kauflin is a young twentysomething pianist who, at age 11, lost his eyesight.

Jazz legend Clark Terry — the revolutionary flugelhornist who played with Count Basie and Duke Ellington, and mentored Quincy Jones and Miles Davis — shares something with Kauflin. Diabetes claimed his eyesight.

But that’s not the only reason the two musicians, who are separated by nearly 70 years, became close friends. The story of the bond between teacher and mentee is told in the new documentary “Keep On Keepin’ On,” which is being shown at this year’s Seattle International Film Festival. The film also celebrates Terry, who, even from his hospital bed, coaches Kauflin as he sets out to forge his own jazz career.

Miles Davis is still one of the most influential figures in jazz, even after more than twenty years since his death (1991). On what would have been his 88th birthday on May 26, a section of 77th Street in New York City where he lived and composed some of his most memorable music was renamed Miles Davis Way.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

We wrapped up KPLU's School of Jazz week with a special treat for our audience: a live in-studio performance from the Bellevue High School Jazz Combo, accompanied by trombonist David Marriott and led by director Edd George. 

The combo includes:

  • Trumpet: Alex Clark
  • Alto Sax: Griffin Hale
  • Tenor Sax: Winston Zhang
  • Baritone Sax: Jungwoo Lee
  • Bass: Jake Escobar
  • Piano: Melvin Soestrisno
  • Drums: Sean Mahoney

The KPLU School of Jazz, Volume 10 CD is now available.

For more information about the School of Jazz program, and to purchase your copy of this years CD, please visit SchoolofJazz.org.

  This week on Jazz Northwest, we'll preview the featured artists at The Bellevue Jazz Festival, including The East-West Trumpet Summit with Ray Vega and Thomas Marriott, Carlos Cascante y su Tumbao, Poncho Sanchez, and Bill Frisell's Beautiful Dreamers. 

The festival also include many free performances in downtown Bellevue Wednesday through Sunday. 

McTuff on Jazz Northwest

May 18, 2014

The organ trio (Hammond B3 organ, guitar and drums) is one of the jazz institutions. From the late 50s through the 60s, organ trios were one of the most popular styles of jazz, particularly in hotbeds like Detroit and Philadelphia.

The Seattle band McTuff was formed in 2008 as a tribute to organ greats Jimmy Smith and Captain Jack McDuff, but they've added their own take on the classics and play a lot of original music, too. 


Some of the most popular music of the 1930s was played by the big bands of the Swing Era. Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Chick Webb, Lionel Hampton, Glenn Miller and other bands toured across the country playing for dancers in ballrooms like the Savoy in Harlem, the Rendevous in Balboa, the Trianon in Seattle, the Spanish Castle in Tacoma and Evergreen Ballroom near Tacoma. 

On this episode, The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, co-directed by Clarence Acox and Michael Brockman is featured in highlights from a concert devoted to “The Art Of The Jitterbug."

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Regina Carter has been pushing the limits of what jazz violin can be. Last time Ms. Carter was in the KPLU studios, she had just released her album, Reverse ThreadKanou and N’teri, which explored African music in a fresh new way. 

On this visit to Seattle, with guitarist Marvin Sewell and bassist Jesse Murphy, she had just released her new album Southern Comfort, which features traditional folk tunes of the American South. This studio session features three tracks from the album: Cornbread Crumbled in Gravy, I'm Going Home, and Miner's Child. 

You can also find our Studio Sessions available as a video podcast in iTunes.  https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/kplu-studio-sessions-video/id657517777

Robyn Kolke

This week on Jazz Northwest, new releases by The Danny Kolke Trio + Pete Christlieb "Live at Boxley's" and Nelda Swiggett's Stringtet, with her trio + two musicians from the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Plus a sampling of music in the week to come with Bill Watrous, Fred Hersch and The Mercer Island High School Jazz Ensemble 1 and news of the best bets for live jazz.

Jim Levitt

Former Seattle resident Kendra Shank now lives in New York, and John Stowell resides in Portland when he's not touring. They first performed together in Portland over twenty years ago but when they re-discovered how much they liked making music together, it resulted in a new CD "New York Conversations."

The duo is currently on a West Coast tour with 13 dates which began in Seattle with a concert at The Seattle Art Museum.

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