Saxophonist Walter Blanding — With The Future Jazz Head All-Stars

By KPLU • APR 28, 2016
(Jazz heads featuring original arrangements by Danny)


Listen Listening…28:33 Future Jazz Head All-Stars | School Of Jazz

Tenor saxophonist Walter Blanding has been a member of the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra (directed by Wynton Marsalis) since 1998. One of the things that got him there was a great jazz education. Walter attended LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and the Performing Arts, followed by more study at the New School of Social Research.

And now Walter Blanding is ‘giving back,’ by providing mentorship to many young musicians, including the four members of The Future Jazz Head All-Stars, who are also in the Mt. Si High School Jazz Orchestra. In addition to excellently performing three songs, Walter and the Jazz Heads talk about the importance of jazz education and joys of mentorship.

Also in these recordings: Max Cannella – Piano, Nate Sharp – Bass, Greg Williamson – Drums, Leslie Kolke – Trumpet, Hayden KajerCline – Alto Sax

 North Bend Jazz Walk jumps ahead on calendar, adds venues and high schools

March 11th 2015 – Valley Record

Katy Moon sits in the Mountain Valley Montessori School classroom, one of 22 venues for Saturday’s Jazz Walk. - Allyce Andrew/Staff Photo

Katy Moon sits in the Mountain Valley Montessori School classroom, one of 22 venues for Saturday’s Jazz Walk.

— Image Credit: Allyce Andrew/Staff Photo


Regulars at the North Bend Jazz Walk and the corresponding Blues Walk may be squinting at their calendars this spring, looking for the Blues Walk. In past years, the Blues Walk followed the early fall  Jazz Walk, and we just had a Jazz Walk, didn’t we?

Yes, and we’re having one again, for good reason.

“We’re doing back-to-back jazz walks because of the calendar flip,” said Danny Kolke, event organizer and founder of the Boxley’s Music Fund that puts on the annual concerts.

The third annual Jazz Walk was exactly six months ago, on Saturday, Sept. 14. The fourth annual, this Saturday, will be the first to showcase the high school bands that inspired the move on the calendar.

Most high school bands aren’t ready for a big public performance just a few weeks into the school year, Kolke said, so organizers decided, “We’ll do blues at the end of summer and jazz in the springtime.”

As in every previous year, though, there are other changes. New artists are on the bill, and many new venues, bringing the total number of performers to over 200, and the number of venues to 22.

“We’ve had people asking about (participating) as a venue,” in past years, Kolke said, and some places just suggested themselves, like the Casual Dining Barstools & Dinettes store. He recalled visiting The Swirl next door to talk about their participation in the Jazz Walk, and then noticing the huge windows and showroom filled with barstools at Barstools & Dinettes.

“It’s a great spot,” he said he thought. “Let’s put a band in there!”

Mountain Valley Montessori School is another new venue.

“I don’t know if there are words to attach to a musical experience,” said Katy Moon, owner and director of the preschool. “You don’t know how it’s going to affect a child, but we know that music makes an impact.”

Moon said she’s never been to Jazz Walk because she’s a mother of a 3-year-old, but is a long-time sponsor and frequent visitor of Kolke’s jazz club, Boxley’s Place. She said the decision to open her doors for Jazz Walk was easy, as she has 3,000 square feet available to work with.

“I really appreciate what Danny has done in our community,” she continued. “He has a positive attitude (and) music brings people together. Music is certainly something we incorporate into our Montessori curriculum.”

Moon likened music and sports, as community events. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from or your background. Everyone can enjoy the game. I feel that way about music and I think Danny has brought something so unique to our small town. I just want to be part of that.”

Moon said she would love to see families with young children stop by to see the Ham Carson Quartet perform at 7 p.m., but, because her students range from 3 to 6 years old, she empathizes with those who won’t be able to make it.

“As a mother of a 3-year-old, it’s always, ‘Gosh, I’d really like to go!’ but when you get home you’re (saying) ‘Oh, I’m so tired!’” Moon laughed.

Mountain Valley Montessori has hosted bluegrass and classical musicians for the students, but this is its first public show.

“It tightens the community when we work together,” Moon stated. “It’s an interesting town with a lot of power in a small space.”

A few blocks away, at the Mount Si Senior Center, Ann Landry, interim executive director and Jazz Walk regular, is preparing to host Lance Buller and the Roadstars Band.

“Danny Kolke and I had talked about doing some jazz performance here and utilizing the space before,” Landry began “We hadn’t made any specific plans and then the Jazz Walk committee did approach us, which is great. We’re excited to open up this as a venue for the public moving forward. In fact, we just got a beautiful baby grand piano donated from someone’s estate.”

The show starts at 7 p.m. and Landry said the senior center would be an ideal first or second stop for Jazz Walk attendees, especially since its offering an added perk.

“One thing that we’re doing that most other venues are not, is we’re going to be serving a full dinner,” Landry explained. “We have a Cordon Bleu-trained chef, Joy Lund.”

Lund, former executive chef at Bake’s Place in Bellevue, is cooking up surf and turf, plus a kid’s menu. Beer and wine are also available.

Besides the community exposure and development, Landry stated allowing outsiders to mix with senior-center regulars is a great opportunity.

“I hope they get to meet some new people; I hope a lot of them come out,” she said. “I know they’re proud of our center — it’s a home away from home for a lot of them. I think it’ll be a great opportunity for them to mix and mingle in our community.”

The senior center is not exactly on the Jazz Walk’s main strip, but with two other shows in nearby venues, Kolke says, “You get rewarded for walking the block.”

Barstools and Dinettes will feature the Chuck Deardorf quartet with special guest saxophonist Bill Ramsay, who played in the big bands of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman,  and Quincy Jones.  The Swirl hosts returning favorites, the Chris Fagan Trio.

“There’s a bunch of great people playing,” said Kolke, when asked if any band in particular was this year’s must-see show. “I can’t tell you, don’t miss anybody.”

Advance tickets are on sale now for the event, which has a limit of about 1,700 people. Previous Jazz Walks have sold out, said Kolke, but never in advance. He expects ticket sales on Saturday to be roughly double the advance sales.

For the full list of venues and the schedule, band information, a map and tickets, visit the Jazz Walk website,

Danny Kolke playing piano with his trio in the 2014 Jazz Walk.


Jazz band rocks: Mount Si selected for return to Essentially Ellington

Mention: 2/25/2015
Original article available here:

Comment:  Super proud of these kids.  And yes… that’s my daughter playing lead trumpet.

Jazz band rocks: Mount Si selected for return to Essentially Ellington

Mount Si High School Jazz Band I director Matt Wenman, right, cues his students in rehearsal for the band’s upcoming “Hot Java Cool Jazz” concert performance. Last week, Jazz at Lincoln Center announced that Mount Si was chosen for a return trip to the annual Essentially Ellington festival. - Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

Mount Si High School Jazz Band I director Matt Wenman, right, cues his students in rehearsal for the band’s upcoming “Hot Java Cool Jazz” concert performance. Last week, Jazz at Lincoln Center announced that Mount Si was chosen for a return trip to the annual Essentially Ellington festival.

— Image Credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

  • Feb 25, 2015 at 7:00AM updated Feb 26, 2015 at 11:53AM

They were just selected for one of the most prestigious youth jazz events in the country, and for a second time, but the Mount Si High School Jazz Band I is, on the Monday after spring break, all business, no celebration.

A group of 15 students, assembled at 6:30 a.m., is working away on a new tune, feet tapping, lips pursed, eyes on the sheet music. The students, and their director, Matt Wenman, are intent on getting this piece right.

The piece, called “Bodysnatchers,” is not actually for their return trip to Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington event in May, but for a March 20 event that could help get them there.

“Our first really big fundraiser is Hot Java Cool Jazz, which is March 20, right after the (North Bend) Jazz Walk, and it’s at the Paramount,” said Wenman.

The Starbucks-sponsored concert will feature five area high school bands, and each band will receive the proceeds from ticket sales at their local Starbucks shops. Tickets went on sale last Thursday at the Snoqualmie Ridge Starbucks.

Wenman estimated the cost to bring the band to New York in May for Essentially Ellington at about the same as last year.

He’s hopeful that between this concert in March and another “Little Town Blues” gala being planned at Boxley’s, the band will meet most of its fundraising needs — music boosters are setting their goal at $22,000.

Since the announcement was made last week while Mount Si students were on spring break (Wenman asked Jazz Band II director Danny Kolke to play for the students a video of him making the announcement), most of the students hadn’t thought much about their goals for this year.

“I think just having the experience under our belts will be a huge benefit to us in going back, knowing a little more what to expect,” said JT Hartman.

“Our goal is to relax more and have a little more confidence, since we know what to expect.… There are all these great musicians there, so we want to connect with people,” added Hayden Kajercline.

“It’s the top-tier jazz festival in the country,” said Wenman, and a great experience for everyone selected, no matter how they place in the final competition. Only 15 schools are selected, he said, adding, “It’s exciting and energetic, it doesn’t feel cut-throat competitive.”

As a group, the band has also discussed leaving a day early for the event, to spend more time at workshops and just explore New York.

That, of course, will depend on flight costs, and funds available.

In the worst case, Wenman jokes, “We’re going to charter a private Volkswagen bus.”

Mount Si’s Jazz Band I will be part of the North Bend Jazz Walk’s high school big band performances. The show starts at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 14, at the North Bend Theater.

Hot Java Cool Jazz is 7 p.m. Friday, March 20, at the Paramount Theater in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now at the Starbucks on Snoqualmie Ridge.

Learn more about the band and fundraising efforts at

Leslie Kolke solos on trumpet at Essentially Ellington 2014.

Hayden Kajercline performs a solo at the Snoqualmie Valley Schools Foundation fundraising luncheon last year.

North Bend celebrates ’embarrassment of riches’ in volunteer spirit with the Kolkes, Nela Cumming

Originally posted
by CAROL LADWIG,  Snoqualmie Valley Record Editor

Jan 16, 2013 at 12:14PM

Citizen of the Year Nela Cumming, Director of Pediatric Therapy at Encompass, was recognized at the Jan. 15 North Bend City Council meeting, where Mayor Ken Hearing presented her with the award.  - Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

Citizen of the Year Nela Cumming, Director of Pediatric Therapy at Encompass, was recognized at the Jan. 15 North Bend City Council meeting, where Mayor Ken Hearing presented her with the award.

— Image Credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

Citizens of North Bend celebrated their own Tuesday night, with the announcement of the city’s Citizen of the Year and Business Owner of the Year awards.

Danny and Robyn Kolke, owners of Boxley’s Place, were less-than surprised to be named Business Owners of the Year.

“I kind of knew the jig was up when I started seeing saw all my customers walking in,” said Danny Kolke, laughing.

“Hey, they’re my customers, too!” Mayor Ken Hearing, who presented the award, reminded him.

Actually, Kolke was very surprised and overwhelmed by the honor, saying, “We did not set out to win awards, in fact we didn’t set out to do youth programs, we didn’t set out to improve our community… I just love jazz, and I love food.”

Among the Kolkes’ many contributions to the city, Hearing listed their restaurant, their work with the school district including his directing the Twin Falls Jazz Band 2, establishing the Boxley’s Music Fund to support jazz education and the Future Jazz Heads program giving students a chance to play with professional musicians like himself, the couple’s dedicated support of community events like the Downtown Block Party, and their creation of new events like last September’s jazz walk, and a proposed blues walk for this spring.

Citizen of the Year honors went to Encompass Director of Pediatric Therapy Nela Cumming, who did her best to avoid the spotlight — one of the traits Hearing mentioned in his presentation.

“She has worked tirelessly to help other in many ways without seeking recognition for herself,” Hearing said. “She is a very caring, selfless person who is working to make the community a better place for all of us.”

Cumming accepted the award and a friend’s bouquet with little fanfare, but when she saw her good friend Ellie rolling toward her, she said “Ellie!” and quickly emptied her hands to give the girl a warm hug.

Not only does Cumming help families through her work, she often volunteers at schools during her lunch breaks, and serves as a translator for local Spanish-speaking families. She is a long-time resident of the city, is active in community organizations, and, Hearing said, sets “a shining example of giving.”

For City Administrator Londi Lindell who started with the city in May, the celebration was her first for Citizen of the Year. She told the council following the awards that North Bend has “It is truly an embarrassment of riches, the volunteerism in this town.”

Nela Cumming gives a big hug to her friend Ellie, who came to congratulate her on being named Citizen of the Year.

Danny and Robyn Kolke, owners of Boxley’s Place, received the North Bend Business Owners of the Year Award for 2012, with Danny’s father, Daniel.