Thursday, April 18, 2019

Now's the Time: The Chicago Plan


Trombonist Steve Swell and saxophonist Gebhard Ullmann will perform at the Blue Room on Friday, April 26, under the auspices of The Chicago Plan.  The extremely rare avant-garde booking at the Blue Room is part of the ongoing Goethe Pop Up festival in Kansas City.  Swell and Ullman will be joined by cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and drummer Michael Zerang.  Every area gig is listed at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes


*The editorial board of The Kansas City Star chastises the city for spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on last year’s Open Spaces festival.  A recap of the artistically audacious but woefully attended festival is included in Plastic Sax’s end-of-the year survey of Kansas City’s jazz scene.

*Not a single Kansas City musician or institution is among the dozens of nominees in the Jazz Journalists Association’s JJA Jazz Awards 2019.

*Logan Richardson’s return to the Blue Room is previewed by The Kansas City Star.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Charlie Parker- Charlie Parker with Strings: Alternate Takes comes 70 years since the initial recordings & the Record Store Day LP set comes in a blue vinyl matching the updated original David Stone Martin cover. Exclusively available 4/13 at participating record stores. http://RecordStoreDay.com

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Concert Review: Assif Tsahar and Tatsuya Nakatani at the 1900 Building


An Israeli saxophonist and a Japanese percussionist walk into an office building in Kansas…  It’s not the opening line of an offensive joke.  Instead, the unlikely scenario resulted in a bracing avant-garde recital at the 1900 Building on Wednesday, April 10.  Longtime friends and collaborators Assif Tsahar and Tatsuya Nakatani played two brief but incendiary sets.  I paid $21 to join three dozen people at the improvisatory freakout. 

Tsahar wailed like a free jazz superhero on tenor saxophone as Nakatani banged on drums, sawed on gongs and did untoward things to cymbals.  I’ll admit to later goofing on Nakatani’s manic style with pots, pans and utensils in my kitchen, but I can’t come close to replicating his expert form of mayhem.  Even when pieces of Nakatani’s kit accidentally fell to the floor, the timing of each crash was perfect.

I understand why skeptics doubt the sanity of audiences who intentionally subject themselves to free jazz.  “Is it even music?”  Yet the question answers itself.  I may not encounter more vital music in 2019 than the cacophonous commotion created by Tasahar and Nakatani in Mission Woods, Kansas.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Now's the Time: Logan Richardson

Logan Richardson is one of a handful of musicians from the Kansas City area who have been featured on an episode of NPR’s illustrious Tiny Desk Concert series.  The saxophonist’s 2018 contribution to the showcase is embedded here.  Richardson performs at Blue Room on Thursday, April 18.  The concert is one of the day’s 18 gigs listed on The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes


*Ernest Melton is featured in a brief video profile created by Google.

*Joe Dimino captured footage of Johnson County Community College Night at Black Dolphin.

*Sue Vicory recently uploaded her hour-long documentary Kansas City Jazz & Blues; Past, Present & Future to YouTube.

*The Kansas City Star includes an upcoming performance by the Joshua Redman Quartet among its weekly concert previews.

*Moon Hooch will perform at the Encore Room on July 10.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Uptown Arts Bar- Tonight and every Thursday 7pm-1am All That Jazz Karaoke at @UptownArtsBar

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Matt Otto, Danny Embrey, Sam Copeland and Brian Steever at Black Dolphin


The ticket I buy at the box office of the Folly Theater on Thursday for a concert by the Joshua Redman Quartet will almost surely be money well spent.  The saxophonist deserves his status as one of the biggest stars in mainstream jazz.

I wasn’t required to open my wallet to catch a similarly refined quartet on Wednesday.  Performances at Black Dolphin are always free.  Saxophonist Matt Otto,  guitarist Danny Embrey, bassist Sam Copeland and drummer Brian Steever were staggeringly good. 

Otto immediately became one of Kansas City’s finest musicians upon moving to the area in 2009.  Embrey has a chameleon-like tendency to play at the level of his collaborators, a trait that resulted in a magnificent effort on Wednesday. 

A $40 seat in the center of the second row is currently available for Redman’s concert.  I hope to snag it Thursday.  While I know that Redman’s showmanship will be enormously entertaining, I’m less confident that the star will equal the musical standard set by Otto last week.

Otto’s quartet returns to on Black Dolphin on Wednesday, April 10, Wednesday, April 17, and Wednesday, April 24.  I shared a portion of an Otto solo at Instagram.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Now's the Time: Joshua Redman


The modern-day jazz giant Joshua Redman last performed in Kansas City with the Bad Plus in 2016.  (I reviewed the concert for The Kansas City Star.)  The saxophonist was in equally fine form as a headliner of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in New York in 2017.  (I reviewed the event at Plastic Sax.)   Redman will be joined by pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Gregory Hutchinson at the Folly Theater on Thursday, April 11.  The concert is one of more than 20 of the evening’s performances listed at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.