Jim Knapp (1939-2021), director of the Jim Knapp Orchestra, trumpet player, composer, and teacher, was born in Chicago, and received BA and MA degrees in Music Composition from the University of Illinois. From 1977 to 1986, Jim directed and performed with the Composers and Improvisors Orchestra, a jazz chamber orchestra that presented new work by Karl Berger, Carla Bley, Anthony Braxton, Bob Brookmeyer, Gil Evans, Dave Holland, Jim McNeely, Art Lande, Gary Peacock, Julian Priester, Sam Rivers, William O. Smith, Ralph Towner and Cedar Walton, as well as members of the orchestra and regional composers. From 1979 to 1986, Jim performed with the collective improvisation group First Avenue (later New Avenue) that included Denney Goodhew, Eric Jensen, Jay Clayton and Jerry Granelli. ECM released their album First Avenue in 1980 with Knapp, Goodhew and Jensen.
The Jim Knapp Orchestra was established in 1995. The band has recordings released on Seabreeze, Origin and A-Records and has performed at clubs and festivals throughout the Pacific Northwest. The orchestra features the original compositions and arrangements of Jim Knapp and includes many of the finest jazz musicians of the region. The Jim Knapp Orchestra won the Earshot “Best Acoustic Jazz Group” award in 1995 and its CD, Things For Now, received the Earshot “Jazz Record Of The Year” award in 1999.
As an educator, Jim developed the Jazz Program at Cornish College in the late ’70s with a distinguished faculty that has included Jay Clayton, Chuck Deardorf, Denney Goodhew, Jerry Granelli, Carter Jefferson, Art Lande, Joni Metcalf, Gary Peacock, Dave Peterson, Julian Priester, Michael Spiro, and Jim Wilke.
CDs by the Jim Knapp Orchestra are: Things for Now on A-Records (AL73180), On Going Home on Seabreeze (SB2078), and Secular Breathing (82412) and It’s Not Business, It’s Personal (82834) on Origin.
(Photo by Brigiyye Nowlin)