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Band Jazz Funk


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The best kept secret in music


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Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Native Blue is a six-piece instrumental jazz group comprised of a trumpet, sax, trombone, piano, bass and drums. Five of the members live in the Olympia area and one, the bassist, a graduate of PLU, is from Spanaway. All of the band members have extensive experience working as professional musicians throughout the Northwest and have worked with many local and national artists over the years. Three of the band members are graduates of The Evergreen State College.

Native Blue is a new spin-off group from the original Olympia Jazz Sextet which existed five years ago when the members of the group were Syd Potter (trumpet), Dan Blunck (sax), Richard Lopez (trombone), Steve Luceno (bass), Steve Bentley (drums) and the late great jazz pianist Bob Nixon. Richard Lopez initiated a rebirth of this sextet sound and joined-up with Steve Bentley and recruited Barry Caldwell on trumpet, local music arranger Mark Thome on tenor saxophone and clarinet, Drew Gibbs on piano and Nick Johnson on bass to form the new group Native Blue. The first time this group met together was June 4th of 2006.

Jazz is America’s greatest artistic export and is enormously appreciated by audiences all over the world in places like Europe and Japan. However, jazz and jazz musicians have not received the same recognition in our own native land as we have received around the world. The expression of Native in our name Native Blue emphasizes the good and precious art form of jazz that has its deep roots in our nation’s history and the resulting strong community it has formed throughout the world. Blue is a color of jazz, as blue has been jazz’ perfect description of its cool sound and the use of blue notes in melodies and improvisation. As an example: the most significant jazz recording label, Blue Note Records, understood early on in the history of jazz how significant the blue notes were in the context of jazz music.

Native Blue performs most of its music similar to the timeless Art Blakey/Jazz Messenger sound in addition to offering the listening audience progressive jazz such as the Yellowjackets. Native Blue also plays the classic funk-rock hits from bands like Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers, Chicago and the Average White Band. These rock bands have repeatedly used the ideas and harmonies of jazz music to establish their trademark sounds. Native Blue recognizes this collaboration in the evolution of music by enjoying and playing these styles as well.

Olympia has always made a significant contribution to the Northwest contingent of jazz musicians with artists such as Bert Wilson, Joe Baque, Jack Percival, Bob Nixon, Syd Potter and Chuck Stentz. Native Blue is another example of how deep Olympia’s bench is with regard to the fine talent that exists here in our own community. Olympia is known far and wide for its profound interests and contribution in arts and culture. Native Blue is an ideal representative of the richness and authentic gift of music that Olympia’s community can foster.