Get to Know John Gilbreath and Noel Brass Jr., Co-Hosts of KEXP's Jazz Theater

Powering KEXP
Dusty Henry

As of Sept. 13, 2023, KEXP has begun to roll out a new radio lineup full of new shows and DJs. Jazz Theater should be familiar to longtime KEXP listeners, helmed by our beloved DJ John Gilbreath. While the show will retain its time on Mondays from 1-3 AM PT, the show will now be co-hosted by DJ and Seattle-based musician Noel Brass Jr. 

To help introduce Noel – and re-introduce John – we asked the two jazz aficionados some questions to get to know them, their musical philosophies, and some of the albums that have impacted each of them personally. Read their conversation below and check out Noel's debut episode as co-host on Jazz Theater in the streaming archive.

John Gilbreath

KEXP: When did you first start DJing? 

John Gilbreath: I started in August of 1999 at KCMU, on campus, in the Communications Building.
What first brought you to KEXP?

John Gilbreath: I’ve always LOVED this station. My immersion in the local jazz scene caught the attention of Don Yates when the Jazz Theater “chair” opened up. I started when the show ran at 10 pm on Sunday nights, following Expansions.
What inspires you to share music with other people?

John Gilbreath: I HAVE to share the music with other people.
How would you describe your show to someone who has never heard it? 

John Gilbreath: Jazz has a rich history, but it’s not confined to that arena. Jazz, like the rest of the music world, is a vibrant, progressive, culturally expressive art form. Jazz Theater goes where the music goes; wide and deep.
What are three albums you love? 

John Gilbreath: John Coltrane – A Love Supreme; Dizzy Gillespie – The Cool World; Jeff Parker – Suite for Max Brown


Noel Brass Jr.

KEXP: Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you want people to know about you? 

Noel Brass Jr.: Composer/Educator/Independent artist living in Seattle for the last 17 years hailing from the Midwest. I'm a huge record collector & curator of all things soulful eclectic, and thoughtful in nature. I have a deep love & appreciation for sharing and searching the vast realms of jazz and beyond to hear the notes playing from everywhere from "Bodegas to Starfields." Music is always a transcending human experience to be admired and exalted.

When did you first start DJing? 

Noel Brass Jr.: I started sharing music and cultivating/djing when I was young enough to discover my Dad's Noel Brass Sr's collection of various Soul/Jazz, Parliament/Funkadelic records later on growing up I always worked in different record stores to find and share music, all the way up to present of creating and continually appreciating music undiscovered to me

What inspires you to share music with other people?

Noel Brass Jr.: The constant search and satisfying feeling of finding a great album or cut I haven't heard before. To fit a mood and hue to every moment is a possibility if you listen enough. The inert love of human expression keeps me inspired knowing that others have gotten me here and being a piece of the process keeps me sharing music.

How would you describe your show to someone who has never heard it? 

Noel Brass Jr.: My show is like a soulful step inside a comfortable ear-opening spiritual jazz club in Heaven's waiting room.
What are three songs to help us get to know you and give an idea of what we might expect in your sets?  

Noel Brass Jr.:  Alice Coltrane - I Want To See You; Gabor Szabo- Stronger Than Us; Miles Davis - Circle In The Round

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