Nick Francis

Music Director

A native of Los Angeles and graduate of UCLA, Francis began his radio career in 1983 at KLSK-FM, an eclectic-based jazz station in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Since then, he has programmed jazz radio at stations all around the country, including KKSF/San Francisco and WJZZ/Atlanta. During his seven years as Program Director at KYOT/Phoenix, he helped it become the first jazz station in America to achieve number-one status in the ratings. He joined the KPLU team in November 2005.

His most memorable KPLU radio moment was meeting and interviewing Mose Allison. He lives in North Tacoma, and is married to photographer Sharon Styer.

KPLU Studio Sessions
10:49 am
Mon December 10, 2012

Graham Dechter: Youth steeped in tradition

Graham Dechter performing live in the KPLU Seattle studios.
Justin Steyer KPLU

Graham Dechter is a 26-year-old jazz guitarist who is, indeed, currently living his dream. 

Graham was invited to join the world-famous Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra at age 19. Now, 7 years later, he is leading his own group and just released his second CD, “Takin' It There.”  

Here is a video of the quartet performing the title track, "Takin' It There" live in our studios: 

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KPLU Studio Sessions
10:45 am
Sun September 2, 2012

Bellingham vocalist Cheryl Jewell: Coming home to jazz

Vocalist Cheryl Jewell performing live in the KPLU Seattle Studios on August 2.
Justin Steyer KPLU

Bellingham jazz singer, Cheryl Jewell, was raised in Oak Harbor, Washington.  When she went to college in Bellingham, she fell in love with that city.  She left only to pursue her singing career in Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles. 

After working for several years as a rock and country singer, Cheryl decided to move back to Bellingham and pursue her first musical love—jazz.  With the release of her first jazz CD, My Blue Heaven, Cheryl has placed herself on the top shelf of West Coast jazz singers. 

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KPLU Studio Sessions
4:30 pm
Mon June 20, 2011

Julian Lage - From guitar prodigy to guitar master

When Julian Lage was 8 years old, his skill as a guitarist was the subject of a documentary film, Jules at Eight. Before he entered his teens, he had already performed with Carlos Santana and jazz vibraphonist, Gary Burton.

He made his first jazz recording with Burton at age 15, and at age 22 he released his first CD as a band leader. Now, at the ripe old age of 24, he's just released his second CD, called Gladwell.

To celebrate and promote the new recording, Julian is traveling the country with his quintet, and stopped by the KPLU studios last week to treat us to three delightful pieces of music.

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KPLU Studio Sessions
8:30 am
Thu May 5, 2011

Joe Lovano Us Five - Taking Bird to new heights

We were pleased to welcome Joe Lovano and his group, "Us Five," into our studios on April 29 for a live on-air performance in-front of a group of KPLU Leadership members.

Live sessions in the KPLU Performance Studio are always fun.  However, when saxophonist, Joe Lovano, stopped by with his group, Us Five, it was more than fun.  It was also an honor. 

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DIY Jazz
10:00 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Mix it up: KPLU music director invents 'The Choppertone'

KPLU music director, Nick Francis, poses with "The Choppertone," a self-built MIDI controller which allows him to remix and mashup jazz tunes in real-time.
Justin Steyer KPLU

Imagine inventing something that enhanced a hobby that you were passionate about. That's what happened to KPLU music director Nick Francis.

He invented a musical mixing device called The Choppertone. He built it from a MIDI controller kit. And with it, he's able to mix different bits of audio together, to create a whole new sound or remix an old song.

It's the size of a portable keyboard. With the audio pieces selected by Nick stored in the Choppertone's software, he can take this device with him to a coffee shop or other venue and perform a live remix of a song.

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KPLU Studio Sessions
10:20 am
Thu April 21, 2011

In the studio with Kurt Elling - The complete jazz singer

Kurt Elling performing live in the KPLU Seattle studios on April 15, 2011.

Some jazz singers excel at singing standards. Others excel at scat-singing or vocalese (writing lyrics for instrumental improvisations and singing them). However, Grammy award-winning vocalist Kurt Elling can do it all.

He easily proved it in front of a small studio audience of Leadership Circle members on April 15th with along with two long-time musical colleagues; pianist, Laurence Hobgood, and guitarist, John McLean.

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Artist Profile
10:22 pm
Mon February 14, 2011

George Shearing 1919-2011

This disc features his early recordings from the late 40s to the late 50s

Sad to report the passing of British jazz pianist George Shearing, who died Monday from congestive heart failure in New York. He was 91. 

He came to the U.S. in 1947 and quickly established himself as a popular instrumentalist and composer. His recording of "September In The Rain" sold nearly a million copies, and his tune "Lullaby of Birdland" became a popular jazz favorite.

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