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.


Danny in Tech News:

Cloudward launches Cloud Snippets to ease website customization

Original article available here:

BY BLAIR HANLEY FRANK on February 26, 2015 at 9:13 am

1 Comment  Share  87  Tweet  30  Share  11  Reddit  Pin

People who want to extend the functionality of their website have a new option to choose from today. Cloudward, a Bay Area based cloud services company that has an engineering office in Seattle, just unveiled a Cloud Snippets product that allows people to take a small snippet of JavaScript to expand what their website can do.

Users can get the snippets, which work in a manner similar to what Google uses for its AdSense and Analytics tools, from Cloudward’s online store. At launch, Cloudward is seeding its snippet marketplace with more than 30 free first-party snippets, but the company also has a system that lets third party developers build and sell their own snippets.

Cloudward CTO Danny KolkeCloudward CTO Danny Kolke

One of Cloudward CTO Danny Kolke’s favorite snippets allows users to insert the contents of a Google Doc into a web page and make the text look like it belongs on the page. It’s an interesting tool for both technical and nontechnical people who work with the web. Using that snippet, people can easily edit a page’s contents without having to wrangle with a content management system, or even worse, actually interact with a page’s raw HTML.

Users who need different functionality from what Cloud Snippets offers off the shelf can build their own snippets or customize existing ones using Cloudward’s simplified EASE syntax. (That language was actually the basis for the system that would become Cloud Snippets.)

The Cloud Snippets service is priced according to how much people use it. People who get fewer than 1,000 hits a month on pages with Snippets will be able to use the service for free, while hardcore developers can sign up for the top of the line monthly plan that lets the manage an unlimited number of snippets for as many properties as they want.

Those limits may sound harsh, but Kolke said small businesses that just want to publish a single doc or power a single form on one page of their site.

“Since this isn’t usually the entire website, those hits go a long way, because it would just be a specific page on the entire website that it’s on,” he said.

Right now, the system is tightly integrated with Google’s stack, in part because Cloud Snippets is built on top of the Google Cloud Platform. But in the future, the company is interested in expanding beyond Google’s offerings, and is also open to working with developers on its platform to expand Cloud Snippets’ capabilities.

“At the end of the day, it’s a JavaScript implementation on somebody’s website,” Kolke said. “So, any developer that knows JavaScript, we can work with them on expanding into other APIs and other markets as we develop this further.”

Blair Hanley Frank is GeekWire’s Bay Area Correspondent. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. Follow him on Twitter @belril and email him

Getting beyond it’: Explosion can’t faze 2nd annual North Bend’s Blues Walk | Photo Gallery

Originally posted
Apr 29, 2014 at 5:13PM

A couple dances to the sound of Paul Green, left, and Seth Freeman at Twede’s Cafe, Saturday evening, April 26, during the second annual North Bend Blues Walk. - Seth Truscott/Staff Photo

A couple dances to the sound of Paul Green, left, and Seth Freeman at Twede’s Cafe, Saturday evening, April 26, during the second annual North Bend Blues Walk.

— Image Credit: Seth Truscott/Staff Photo

The blues is about dealing with adversity.

So, in a city that made the national news a day prior due to a massive, destructive explosion, crowds lined up to let off steam and feel the groove. The second annual North Bend Blues Walk drew hundreds more listeners than last year.

“I was thinking (the explosion) might scare people off, but it doesn’t seem to have,” said Michael Wilde, a harmonica player and vocalist who performed with Son Jack, Jr., inside the intimate walls of Emerald City Smoothie. “We are rugged people,” added Wilde. The Blues “is about getting over it.”

“News coverage gave it a plug,” said North Bend Theatre owner Cindy Walker, who had the largest stage. “It’s a silver lining.”

“There’s got to be some people who decided to come out just because it’s mentioned on the news,” said Blues Walk and Boxley’s founder Danny Kolke. “We were expecting a big crowd. I’d like to think they would come here anyway.”

Last year’s Blues Walk drew about 1,100 people; this year, more than 1,300 showed. Crowds, many dressed in black event T-shirts, strolled North Bend Way’s sidewalks, queueing up for their next venues.

With Boxley’s standing room only, Kolke advised music fans to head down the block for other venues. Smaller venues like George’s Bakery had an intimate feel, with musicians playing to small rooms of diners. Couples danced in the aisles at Twede’s Cafe.

“It’s a great listening room,” Wilde said of the smoothie shop.

With Son Jack, he plays music ranging from the 1920s through English blues rock. He loves this music because, unlike classic rock, “this is a lot more liberating.”

“Playing the blues, you’re not doing your job if you’re playing the song the same each time,” Wilde said. “It needs to be different.”

And, it’s all ages—“you can be 80 or 90 years old, still be doing this, and not look foolish,” he said.

“It’s all about the groove. Back in the day, when these guys were playing in juke joints, they’d get the place all fired up!”

The Blues Walk benefits the Boxley’s Music Foundation, which promotes local music and education, and also now owns the Boxley’s Place jazz club.

Boxley’s Music Foundation’s next major event is the North Bend Jazz Walk on Saturday, Sept. 13.

Seth Truscott/Staff Photos

Elnah Jordan belts out her version of “Summertime” at Valley Center Stage.

Tom McElroy on guitar with the Elnah Jordan band, feels the rhythm.

Son Jack, Jr., warms up a resonating guitar at Emerald City Smoothie.

Crowds stroll for their next downtown blues venue.

Mike Lynch of the Boneyard Preachers plays harmonica on the Boxley’s Place stage.

The Boneyard Preachers get loud on the Boxley’s stage, opening the North Bend Blues Walk, Saturday, April 26.

Boxley’s Music Foundation founder Danny Kolke chats with a television reporter.

Mia Vermillion plays to an intimate crowd of diners at George’s Bakery.

Live, from North Bend: Boxley’s owners Danny, Robyn Kolke honored as Business Owners of the Year

Originally Posted:

Jan 30, 2013 at 12:03PM

— Image Credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

by CAROL LADWIG,  Snoqualmie Valley Record Editor

It’s a Wednesday night at Boxley’s, and owners Danny and Robyn Kolke have got a small but growing crowd, about a dozen students ready to perform, and a musical hero on stage.

“Chris Clark is a legend in the jazz world,” Danny says, gesturing to the smiling man in the beret, warming up on a string bass. “He’s our bass player tonight.”

Yup, it’s a typical weeknight at Boxley’s Place in North Bend. The restaurant, open three-and-a-half years now, has live music every night, brings in famous names to perform and teach on a regular basis, and was just named one of the best venues for live jazz again this year by DownBeat Magazine. Most importantly though, it’s also exactly the place that the Kolkes wanted to create.

“We didn’t set out to make the best jazz venues list,” said Danny, echoing his comments from a recent speech, when he accepted North Bend’s Business Owner of the Year Award.

“We kind of set out to make it a place where we would like to be, which was family-friendly,” continued Robyn. “A place that we could feel comfortable with our kids (Leslie, James and Daniel).”

“There aren’t many jazz venues that you can take kids to,” finished Danny.

And for Danny, jazz and young people definitely do mix. A jazz pianist himself, Danny recorded his first album at age 19, not much older than one regular performers at his club, now.

He decided against a musical career, because he didn’t want to live on the road, and because of his father’s advice. “He said ‘Look down the road and if there are any musicians that have the lifestyle that you want, maybe it’s possible. But if they have lousy relationships with their kids and wives, maybe you’ll end up in the same place.’”

That made Danny’s decision clear, but not easy. He consoled himself with the idea of starting a jazz club some day — just the idea, he confesses. “I never thought it possible.”

Instead, he started a family, a company (Etelos), and a career in software development, moving to North Bend from Seattle in 1998. Not quite 10 years later, they started talking about a jazz club in earnest.

Robyn, a classical musician in college and now a full-time mom, was a little surprised by Danny’s jazz dreams.

“I remember sitting on the bench across the street,” Robyn told Danny, “and you said, ‘So what do you think about starting a jazz club there?’ And I said, ‘Tell me more.’.”

After many more conversations, the couple made the leap, and created Boxley’s Place (www.boxley’, home to live music seven days a week, and several programs to foster aspiring musicians. In addition to Danny’s volunteering to lead the Twin Falls Middle School Jazz Band II in the early mornings, he has brought them to his club to perform, and learn from other jazz legends in the Future JazzHeads and JazzHeads programs. The club added a vocal workshop for high school students to the schedule (Mondays), a student jazz trio accompanied by Danny on piano (later Mondays), the Aaron Tevis Project band, named for and led by a Mount Si High School senior (some Tuesdays), and has grown the JazzHeads programs (Wednesdays).

“We have people who come because they like to see young people performing,” says Robyn. “They like hearing the kids get involved.”

She adds that she’s seen students develop real confidence, and comfort here. “There’s no getting used to being on stage without a stage,” she laughs.

Tonight’s performers, some of them his students, are still warming up when a distracted Danny says, “I’ve got to go start them.”

He does, with a few instructions, and then the band is off and swinging. The start of their show highlights another winning feature of Boxley’s, the acoustics. Guests have a choice of the main dining room right in front of the stage, or the adjoining, but quieter bar with cozy seats and a huge stone fireplace.

“I think jazz is best served in this venue-type, a small restaurant, a stage off to one side… this is how, the best recordings in jazz history I think were made,” says Danny.

It goes without saying that they’re live recordings, since bringing live music into the community is at the heart of Boxley’s musical efforts. It’s why the couple created last September’s JazzWalk, and will coordinate the upcoming Blues Walk April 20. It’s also why, on Boxley’s first anniversary, they proposed creating the Boxley’s Music Fund, a non-profit fund to  help pay for live music at community events like the Block Party (

“It’s not just here,” Danny says, “Our goal with the music fund is to support the community.”

With about 100 families holding memberships in the fund, Danny says it’s “been a really big success story for us.” The fund also donates a portion of membership fees to music programs in the Snoqualmie Valley School district, helping to foster the next generation of musicians.

The restaurant does still have its ups and downs, but Danny, still working at his software company during the day and at the club with Robyn in the evenings, has basically fulfilled his dream.

North Bend Mayor Ken Hearing, after congratulating the Kolkes on the Business Owner of the Year honor, added. “I shouldn’t have congratulated them, because they earned it. They earned it by doing things that they didn’t expect recognition for, which is, I think, the whole meaning of the award.”