Podcast | The Seattle trumpeter who influenced a century of music

Before there was Ernestine Anderson, Ray Charles and Quincy Jones, there was Frank Waldron.

Five musicians with their instruments

The Whangdoodle Orchestra with Frank D. Waldron, third from the left in the back, in 1914. (Black Heritage Society of Washington State)

The unfortunate irony of Seattle’s storied jazz scene of the early 20th century is that there are many stories but not much jazz to account for it. While recording technology existed at the time, it wasn’t being used to capture much of the music being created in those early years of the Jackson Street music scene.

The music has instead spread its influence through compositions and the living tradition of musicians passing the music down through generations. On both counts, Frank Waldron was an original. As a composer, performer and teacher, Waldron helped shape music in the city and across the country for decades.


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Crosscut’s resident historian Knute Berger told the tale of Waldron and the Jackson Street music scene in a recent episode of his Mossback’s Northwest video series, but there is more to the story.

For this episode of the Mossback podcast, Berger and co-host Sara Bernard explore Waldron’s music and discuss the origins of a scene that broke both the rules and racial barriers and gave rise to stars including Ernestine Anderson, Ray Charles and Quincy Jones.

Before listening, we suggest you watch the Mossback's Northwest episode about Jackson Street jazz scene here.

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About the Hosts

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.