Arts & Culture

Sax player Kareem Kandi starts Tacoma Jazz Association

Tacoma jazz musician Kareem Kandi, director of the new Tacoma Jazz Association, performs with his band.
Tacoma jazz musician Kareem Kandi, director of the new Tacoma Jazz Association, performs with his band. Courtesy

Tacoma’s getting a new jazz association.

Kareem Kandi, a Tacoma saxophone player, bandleader, composer and educator, will head up the Tacoma Jazz Association, which will operate under the umbrella of nonprofit JazzClubsNW. Like similar groups within its parent organization, which began in North Bend, the Tacoma Jazz Association will support local jazz through education and performances that bring together students, professional mentors and audiences.

“Bringing this program to my hometown is one of the highlights of my career,” Kandi said in a news release. “Tacoma has always had a lively jazz scene, and this program creates a super-local center of gravity to bring students and professionals together in a spirit of sharing — with each other and with the community they live in.”

Although there will be performances at both Ted Brown Music and B Sharp Coffee House downtown, the central focus of the association is the education program: ongoing 12-week sessions that pair high-school students and professional teachers in small group settings, teaching improvisation, solos and ensemble work.

Students can start registering now and classes will begin in October, Kandi said.

“We will be working in small group settings, but the skills being taught can be applied to big bands as well,” Kandi said.

The fee is $125 per month, which covers a weekly two-hour class.

The association will kick off with a free public performance by Kandi, pianist and JazzClubs NW founder Danny Kolke, drummer and Bellingham jazz director Julian MacDonough and bassist Michael Glynn, plus student performers from North Bend and Bellingham.

“Those of us who have been lucky enough to play jazz professionally know that it’s a living thing. It has a heartbeat,” Kolke in the release said. “By bringing students and professionals together in the communities where they live, we’re creating a platform for more jazz everywhere.”


What: Tacoma Jazz Association kick-off show.

Who: Kareem Kandi, Danny Kolke, Julian MacDonough, Michael Glynn and student performers.

When: 6:30 p.m. Monday.

Where: B Sharp Coffee House, 706 Opera Alley (Court C), Tacoma.

Cost: Free.

To enroll a student: