Jazz Caliente Expands to Saturday

November 3, 2016
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A little over four years ago, we asked 88.5 knkx listeners if they wanted to hear more Latin Jazz in our Mid Day Jazz programs.  The response was overwhelmingly positive, and so the Jazz Caliente feature debuted at 2pm on  Thursday July 19, 2012.  The 3-song, 15 minute set of Afro-Cuban and Brazilian jazz has been a highlight of Mid Day Jazz afternoons.

Now it’s time to take it to the next level.  Jazz Caliente expands to a one-hour show starting this Saturday, November 5 at 5pm.  That will give us more time to explore the mixture of jazz and world rhythms that move us.  I’ll also be able to include interviews with some of the local and international artists who produce this great music.

This week, I’ll feature some music by young Cuban pianist/composer Jorge Luis Pacheco.  I had the immense pleasure of hearing him play in Havana in 2013.  He’ll be performing in Bellingham for the Friends of the South Whatcom Library’s Jazz Series on Sunday November 6 at 3pm, at Ben Moore’s Restaurant in Olympia on Wednesday November 9, and he’ll be making an appearance at Seattle’s Royal Room on Thursday November 10 with the Entremundos Quarteto and the Brazilian drum and dance ensemble VamoLá.

Join me for the new expanded version of Jazz Caliente, this Saturday at 5pm on 88.5 knkx!


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Earshot Jazz Festival Preview: Maceo Parker’s Funky Life

October 24, 2016
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Maceo Parker gets funky

The Earshot Jazz Festival and Seattle Theatre Group will present Maceo Parker on Saturday October 29 at the Moore Theatre.  As you may know, Mid Day Jazz on the new 88.5 KNKX is home to the occasional feature, The Maceo Mandate, wherein we encourage listeners to take a break and “shake it loose” with the music of Maceo Parker.

An alumnus of James Brown’s band, George Clinton and Bootsy Collins’ Parliament-Funkadelic, and collaborations with Ray Charles and Prince, Maceo has been running his own band since 1990.

“I still enjoy traveling and entertaining.  Along with the band, we’re still very very excited about what we do.  We’re still having fun, giving it all we’ve got, and it feels good,” he says.

It must feel extremely good.  The first Maceo concert I attended lasted for 4 hours.  As I recall, very few of the audience members left before it was over.  And my friend Nick Morrison made up a new dance on the spot.  He called it “Gettin’ Maceated.”


Nick and Robin get Maceated (2005)

Maceo didn’t start out with the intention of becoming the world’s funkiest saxophone player. He just loved any and all kinds of music.  “Nat King Cole, big band stuff, little band stuff, bluegrass, Johnny Cash, Elvis…music, music, music.  I was into it, even the Disney stuff.”

Older brother Kellis played trombone and younger brother Melvin played drums.  Maceo first learned piano, then found his affinity for the saxophone.

“Sometimes I look at it almost like handwriting,” he says.  “We all have the talent that we have, the ability to bounce and shoot the basketball, or catch the football, the whole gamut of what people do.  And somehow, my way of playing solos, by listening to my heart and my mind, became a little funky.”

His biggest influence was Ray Charles.  “Ray recorded ‘What’d I Say’ in 1959.  I remember how it just destroyed our house.  We just went bonkers.  Me and my brothers tore the house all the way up.”

In 1961, backstage after a Ray Charles concert in Greensboro, North Carolina,  Maceo said to the dressing room door, “I don’t know how I’m gonna do it, Mr. Ray Charles, but one of these days, you are going to know me.”  In 2003, he opened for Ray Charles in Europe for a three week tour. One of the nights Ray allowed Maceo to come on stage with him and play.  They spent some time talking in the dressing room, too.  It was a big highlight for the kid from Kinston, NC.  You can read more about it in Maceo’s memoir, 98% Funky Stuff: My Life In Music.

Maceo has since performed Ray Charles tributes, both with his own band and with the Ray Charles band.  The band members were amazed at Maceo’s impersonation of Ray.  It’s spot on, he sounds just like Ray.  One long-time Raylette actually cried when she heard him.

The core of the Maceo Parker Band has been with him for many years:  keyboardist Will Boulware, bassist Rodney “Skeet” Curtis, and guitarist Bruno Speight.  “We’re sort of like family,” says Maceo.  “There’s a lot of love there, and it gives me support.  They really are top-notch,” he says.  On this tour, drummer Nikki Glaspie (Beyonce, Dumpstaphunk) joins the band.  “She’s really funky, and she has that New Orleans thing going on.”  Maceo’s son Corey will be singing, as well.

Recent years have brought some impressive recognition to Mr. Parker:  a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to music from Les Victoires du Jazz in Paris, the Icon Award at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, a Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, and this year the North Carolina National Heritage Award from his home state.

Maceo just wants to spread the love.  “I ended up doing exactly what I think I was born to do. And I feel good, da-da da-da da-da dah,” he sings. “I was born on a Valentine’s Day, so I can’t help but like people and promote love.  I think that’s how it all started.  Always remember, we love you!”

Get some Maceo love on October 29 at the Moore Theatre.  Opening act is the sensational gospel group The Jones Family Singers, so we can get sanctified and funkified  all on the same night.



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A Lot Of “Firsts” For Saxophonist Melissa Aldana

February 2, 2015
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Melissa Aldana

Melissa Aldana, courtesy of

Melissa Aldana and Crash Trio will be making their first appearance in Seattle tonight at Jazz Alley.  The 26-year-old Chilean saxophonist was the first female and the first South American to win the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition in 2013.

Melissa’s father, Marcos Aldana, is a well-known saxophonist in South America, and her grandfather Enrique was a virtuoso saxophonist as well.  She grew up surrounded by the sound and by the time she was six she started playing too.  “I always felt attracted to the instrument, and the first time I played, it just felt really good.  I never really stopped playing after that.”

Learning by listening to the greats–Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, and Michael Brecker– Melissa discovered Sonny Rollins and knew she had to switch from alto to tenor sax.  “I play alto and sometimes soprano, but my main instrument is the tenor.  I feel more connected to it, somehow,” she explains.  She often plays and records with the tenor saxophone passed down to her from her grandfather.

About the Thelonious Monk award, she says:  “It was a big honor and I was so happy to become part of the Monk family.  And it’s been opening a lot of doors.  I’ll always feel proud about it, but  I don’t have the feeling that people just know me only because I won the Monk competition.  I feel happy with the way people have been reacting to my album.”

The Crash Trio is a pianoless trio, like Melissa’s hero Sonny Rollins recorded with in the 1950s, as did Joe Henderson, Ornette Coleman, and, more recently Branford Marsalis and Joshua Redman.  “I love this kind of trio so much,” says Melissa.  “One of the reasons I did it was to become stronger as a musician.  I felt like it would be a good way to learn more about how to play strong melodies and be strong on the harmony by myself and be able to express whatever I’m feeling.”

Melissa listens to other styles of music besides jazz:  Argentinian rock, Brazilian bossa nova.  She finds beautiful melodies and harmonies she can use to influence her own compositions.

What does she see in her future?  “I see myself keep growing as a musician, practicing, developing what I want to say.  Getting as many possibilities to play everywhere and with different people and get that into my music, and to keep playing with my band, too.”

“I’m really looking forward to my first time in Seattle.  I hear a lot of great things about it.  I’m excited to come there with my band, we’ll be presenting some brand new music as well as some music from the trio recording.”

Catch Melissa Aldana and Crash Trio at Dimitrious Jazz Alley tonight.

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Pat Martino, Guitar Hero…Twice In A Lifetime

October 9, 2013
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Pat Martino credit:  wikipedia

Pat Martino
credit: wikipedia

Guitarist PAT MARTINO was a jazz and soul-jazz star since the mid-1960s, recording for the Prestige, Muse, Warner Bros. and Blue Note labels.  In 1980, after operations for a brain aneurysm, he could remember nothing.

He barely recognized his parents, and had no memory of his guitar or his career.  The story of his life, recovered memories and restored career are fascinating to read about in his book Here and Now-The Autobiography of Pat Martino.

In 2008, director Ian Knox and neuropsychologist Paul Broks produced Martino Unstrung, a documentary that “explores the nature of memory, self, creativity and the mysterious brain mechanisms underlying the construction of personal identity.”  The film was an official selection in numerous festivals, including the Tacoma Film Festival, and Seattle’s Earshot Jazz Film Festival.  Vic Schermer of All About Jazz called it “perhaps the finest documentary about a jazz musician ever made.”

For more detail, check out this post about Pat’s case report in World Neurosurgery.

Pat Martino’s trio with guest saxophonist James Carter performs at Seattle’s Jazz Alley tomorrow through Sunday.   And Pat will join us for a live Studio Session this Friday at 12:15pm, during KPLU’s Mid Day Jazz.


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A Latin Jazz New Year’s Eve

December 27, 2012
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Pete Escovedo

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.

Pete Escovedo & Sons Latin Jazz Orchestra at Yoshi’s, Oakland

Pete Escovedo has been a major force in Latin music since the late 1960’s, and his band features some of the finest players on the West coast, including members of his endlessly talented family.

Happy New Year!  Stay tuned for more great Latin Jazz in 2013 on Jazz Caliente, Thursdays at 2pm on KPLU’s Mid Day Jazz!

Jazz and Blues Birthdays: Idris, Blu Lu, Hampton and Hammond

November 13, 2012
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Idris Muhammad  1939

I still see him listed on recordings as Leo Morris, which was his name at birth in New Orleans.  He started playing drums at age 8, and went pro at age 16.  He was the drummer for Art Neville’s first band, the Hawkettes, when they were in their early teens.  Soul, R&B and soul-jazz was his focus in the 1960s, and he’s led bands in every genre from post-bop to disco.  I love the work he did as  part of Ahmad Jamal’s trio.

“Style? No, I just play, man. I don’t really have a style. Just being able to play music is a style, you know?”

Blu Lu Barker  1913-1998

Legend has it that Louise (Blu Lu) was always singing and dancing in the streets of New Orleans. Only 16 when she married banjoist and guitarist Danny Barker, they made an unstoppable entertainment duet.

“Blue Lu Barker was my biggest influence.”–Billie Holiday

Hampton Hawes  1928-1977

Almost entirely self-taught, by his teens Hawes was playing with the leading jazz musicians on the West Coast, including Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Art Pepper, Shorty Rogers, and Teddy Edwards. His second professional job, at 19, was playing for eight months with the Howard McGhee Quintet at the Hi De Ho Club, in a group that included Charlie Parker.  His life was not without struggle.  Don Asher’s Book Raise Up Off Me: A Portrait of Hampton Hawes details an angry man trying to redeem himself through music.

“I’ve been shot at and missed and shit at and hit. That’s a saying out of my childhood and it’s come true more than a few times along the way.”

John Hammond  1942

That’s John P. Hammond, son of the famous record producer and talent scout John H. Hammond.  John P. was inspired by recordings of Jimmy Reed, and dropped out of college to live the blues life.   Part of the Greenwich Village folk and blues scene in the 1960s, he’s gone on to win a Grammy and be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame of the Blues Foundation.  His solo shows are captivating, to me it’s like he’s channeling the old-time Delta bluesmen.

“I was a huge blues fanatic before I began playing the guitar. So when I did get a guitar when I was 18, I already knew the songs and I kind of knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to be an itinerant blues singer.”

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Jazz Birthdays: Kenny and Yusef– more Detroit connections

October 9, 2012
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Yusef Lateef  1920

Composer, performer, recording artist, author, visual artist, educator and philosopher, a pioneer in what is known today as “world music,”  Dr.  Lateef is a virtuoso on a wide range of reed instruments:  tenor saxophone, flute, oboe, bamboo flute, shanai, shofar, argol, sarewa, and taiwan koto.  He’s also another product of Detroit’s fertile music scene in the 1940s and 1950s.

When the soul looks out of its body, it should see only beauty in its path. These are the sights we must hold in mind, in order to move to a higher place. –Yusef Lateef

Kenny Garrett 1960

Saxophonist Kenny Garrett was born in Detroit.  He’s probably best known for his work with Miles Davis during Miles’ “electric period.”  He’s also worked with Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, and Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, and has been leading his own groups for several years.

Don’t look for me to sound like my last record.  I’m shifting- following what my spirit feels.  –Kenny Garrett

Kickstarter Jazz

July 7, 2012
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Add this to the insidious lure of on-line shopping:

Kickstarter projects

I’m hooked, I admit it.  After all, who wouldn’t want to be mentioned in the producers credits on a film or CD?

Actually, I’m finding it a very satisfying way to support the music and the documentation of its history.   More satisfying than pledges to charities, for example, where often you don’t really see the results of your donation (non-profits like public broadcasting excepted, of course).

A Kickstarter project treats contributors like valued members of an arts-supporting community—and you get posters, t-shirts, a DVD, CD, movie or music download of the finished product with your name in the credits.  How cool is that?

Click on the links below to see videos of some projects that I’ve supported and some that just caught my eye.

These have all been fully funded on

Mingus on Mingus

Dr. Lonnie Smith

The Last Mambo

The Sound of Redemption:  The Frank Morgan Project

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Robin’s Nest Jazz Blog

June 5, 2012
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Robin’s Nest Jazz Blog is under construction.  Stay tuned for words and music!

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    April 2017
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    Robin’s Nest

    A blog about Jazz, Blues, Latin Jazz, New Orleans, musician's stories and more. My name is Robin Lloyd and I've been involved in jazz radio and the music business for over 30 years. This is my personal blog.

    Jazz April


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