Nick Morrison

Production Manager/ Jazz & Blues Host

Nick began working at KPLU as a program host in the late 1980’s and, with the exception of a relatively brief hiatus, has been with the station ever since. Along with his work as a Midday Jazz host, Nick worked for several years as KPLU’s Music Director. He is now the station’s Production Manager and also serves as a fill-in host on KPLU’s jazz and blues programs.

Among his many memorable KPLU moments, Nick vividly recalls his pleasure and amazement when jazz guitarist, Larry Coryell, visited the studios during his program and performed a solo, acoustic guitar version of George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody In Blue.’ It still stands as one of the most wonderful live music performances he’s ever seen.

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Behind The Beat
5:00 am
Tue October 7, 2014

An Introduction To Trance Blues, A Little-Known Music Genre Not Even On Wikipedia

Legendary guitarist Jeff Beck performs in concert at The Sands Event Center on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Owen Sweeney Invision/AP Photo

Today we’re going to talk about a genre of blues that’s so rare it barely has a name. And if you look up that name in Wikipedia, nothing comes up. We’re talking about “trance blues.”

We define trance blues as blues that has a strong electronic component, like samples, loops and drum machines. And woven into that is some element of traditional blues.

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Behind The Beat
5:00 am
Tue September 2, 2014

The Evolution Of Reggae: How It Became The Protest Music We Can Dance To

Jamaican Bob Marley, who has spearheaded the movement of Reggae, the popular music of Jamaica, is seen here in 1981.
AP Photo

For many of us, Jimmy Cliff’s 1973 song “The Harder They Come” was the first reggae piece we’d heard.

Reggae grew out of two earlier styles of Jamaican music, ska and rocksteady. And these were both preceded by the Jamaican folk/pop music of the 1950s, a style called mento. Here’s Alerth Bedasse’s “Rough Rider” from 1955.

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Behind The Beat
5:00 am
Tue August 5, 2014

Following The Funk To Its Shake-Your-Booty Maturity With Its Architect, James Brown

James Brown performs at the rock festival held at Roosevelt Raceway in New York on August 12, 1972.
Allan Green AP Photo

Take a listen to “Sex Machine” from 1970 by the architect of Funk, James Brown.

Brown is the focus of our discussion as we follow this music from its roots in R & B to full-blown, shake-your-booty Funk.

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Behind The Beat
5:00 am
Tue July 1, 2014

How Jaco Pastorius Launched A One-Man Revolution On The Bass

Jaco Pastorius strums his bass guitar at Avery Fisher Hall in New York on June 28, 1982.
Rene Perez AP Photo

You probably know “Birdland” by the group Weather Report well enough to sing along with the melody.

What you may not know is the melody is being played on an electric bass by Jaco Pastorius, the subject of today’s discussion.  

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Behind The Beat
5:00 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Rebellion Of The Sidemen, Or The Birth Of Be-Bop

FILE - Jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie is seen during the Boston Globe Jazz and Blues Festival in Boston, Jan. 15, 1966.
Bob Daugherty AP Photo

Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker’s song “Ko-Ko” is perhaps one of the most important American recordings of all time. It’s widely considered to be the first be-bop song ever to be recorded. And even though it’s a 1945 recording, this is still the template for modern jazz.

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Behind The Beat
5:00 am
Tue May 6, 2014

The Road To Fame: How Jimi Hendrix Rose From The 'Chitlin' Circuit' To Become An Icon

In this 1970 file photo, Jimi Hendrix performs on the Isle of Wight in England.
AP Photo

When Jimi Hendrix released the song “Foxy Lady” as part of the “Are You Experienced” album in 1967, it was like this whole package of psychedelia had dropped from the sky.

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Behind The Beat
5:00 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Here's The Man To Thank For The Sound Of The Harmonica As We Know It

Wikimedia Commons

The song “Juke” by Little Walter Jacobs might not sound revolutionary to modern ears, but when it first came out in 1951, nobody had ever had heard harmonica played like this — ever. It really has an aggressive, in-your-face sound.

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Behind The Beat
5:00 am
Tue March 4, 2014

This, We Agree, Was The First-Ever Recorded Rock And Roll Song

John Lee Hooker
Stevesworldofphotos Flickr

What was the first recorded rock and roll song?

Before we can answer that question, we have to go back and figure out the ingredients of rock and roll. We can identify three most important ingredients: gospel, jump and blues. 

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Jazz and Blues
7:01 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Jazz salutes its disc jockeys

Symphony Sid Torin (left) hosts a program at WHOM featuring the saxophonist Arnett Cobb.
William Gottlieb The Library of Congress

The advent of bebop added a fresh sound to American music. It also added new voices to some metropolitan radio stations: the late-night jazz DJs who specialized in presenting this new music to their fellow hipster nightflies. To recognize the work of the groundbreaking DJs who lent them critical exposure, jazz musicians of the period would occasionally write songs in their honor. Here are five of those songs.

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Take 5
5:01 am
Tue March 19, 2013

Take 5 goes meta: A list of 5 songs about lists

Detail from the cover art to Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson.
Verve Records

Over the past few years, Take 5’s theme-based music lists have covered a wide variety of subjects. We’ve covered all the seasons of the year, all the holidays, different types of weather, the careers of jazz legends, the cutting-edge work of up-and-coming jazz artists and have gotten into the musical minutiae of things like flowers, birds, baseball, prohibition and civil rights.  And now it’s time for Take 5 to go meta and present a five-song list of songs about….LISTS.  It had to happen sooner or later.

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Blues
6:00 am
Mon January 28, 2013

Cold Weather Blues: 5 songs that feel your mid-winter pain

In the Western Hemisphere, January is typically the coldest month of the year.  Most of us feel that if we can somehow drag ourselves through January, things will begin to turn around and we’ll be on the road to springtime. 

But January is also typically the month that feels as if it will never end.  So as we slog through the cold rain and snow, awaiting January’s demise, here are five winter blues songs to help get us through:

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Take Five
12:20 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Cannonball Adderley: 5 Songs From A Joyous Soul

Cannonball Adderley.
Michael Ochs Archives Getty Images

Originally published on Sun September 16, 2012 5:56 pm

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Jazz & Blues
11:44 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

Dick Hyman: A living, breathing encyclopedia of jazz

Dick Hyman
Michael Loccisano Getty Images

Dick Hyman was born March 8, 1927, in New York City. Classically trained, Hyman was drawn to jazz at an early age. Today, he's a living, breathing, swinging encyclopedia of jazz piano history, from ragtime and stride to bebop and beyond.

To hear my conversation with KPLU's Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick, click on the listen button above.

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KPLU Studio Sessions
12:00 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

Kim Wilson delivers a blues smackdown in the KPLU studios

Blues singer and harmonica player, Kim Wilson, thinks it’s very healthy for people to drop their emotional guard every now and then and let themselves get smacked around by a great blues performance. 

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A Blog Supreme
9:56 am
Thu December 29, 2011

Willie 'The Lion' Smith: Stride piano's uptown Rruler

Originally published on Wed November 23, 2011 7:08 am

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