Wednesday, June 19, 2013
*"Kansas City, this home to jazz with institutions and a tradition other cities can envy, is mired in minor festivals," KC Jazz Lark suggests in a powerful new post.
*The Kansas City Star reports that the Smooth J Cafe in Overland Park will have a smooth jazz theme.
*Here's footage of Winard Harper jamming at the Mutual Musicians Foundation earlier this month.
*Logan Richardson's talent as an actor is displayed in a clip from a new film.
*Tweet o' the Week: kellyurich- Jazz in the Woods cancelled. If you're a hipster you will have to find another place to pretend to like jazz music.
*Comment o' the Week: Tony DeSare- Lol, I would have expected exactly this reaction from the Journey cover from the jazzerati. You would have been slightly better off posting this one probably.
*From a press release: Alaadeen Enterprises (AEI), the non-profit education organization founded in 1998 by the late Ahmad Alaadeen – jazz musician and educator – plans to re-launch its jazz educational initiative on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 (his 79th birthday) at 11 AM at the Mutual Musicians Foundation, where he started his career as a Kansas City jazz musician. The purpose of this event is to highlight AEI, its vision, and plans; to introduce its new Executive Director, Dennis J. Winslett, and to announce its major educational initiatives, including its Bird House Fellowship Program, which will develop a select group of music students through a comprehensive arts and humanities curriculum in workshops scheduled throughout the year, based on the Alaadeen Method of Instruction™… The event is free to the public and is intended to attract local media coverage, to engage the broader jazz and arts community, and to launch a comprehensive strategic plan to revive jazz education in Kansas City. The event will feature tributes from some of Kansas City’s most prominent jazz musicians and educators, who were taught and/or influenced by Ahmad Alaadeen, including Kevin Mahogany, Dennis Winslett, Logan Richardson, Bobby Watson, and more. Several of their students, representing three generations of Kansas City jazz musicians, will perform Alaadeen's original compositions….
*From Michael Shults: (W)anted to tell you about a new project I'm working on, playing duets with Peter Schlamb. Our first gig is Sunday (June 23) at Take Five at 7 PM. We'll do some originals by Peter and I, probably cover "Vaal" from Logan Richardson's album "Ethos", and some standards. It's definitely at the experiment stage right now, but it's a lot of fun and I think alto+vibes is a really unique sonority.
*From Kerry Strayer: Because of health concerns related to my cancer treatments I will not be able to appear with Barissentials this Friday, June 21, 2013 at Take 5 from 8-10pm. However the band will appear with tenor saxophonist Steve Lambert subbing for me. I may stop by and sit in on a few tunes if I feel up to it but I will not be able to play the entire gig. Please support the band and the venue. I hope I feel well enough to stop by and hope to reschedule this date at another time.
*From Mike Metheny: A KC Trumpet Summit at The Blue Room with: Stan Kessler, Hermon Mehari & Mike Metheny, featuring: TJ Martley, piano, Gerald Spaits, bass, Brian Steever, drums, Saturday, June 29, 2013, 8:30pm - 12:30am.
*From Jazz Winterlude: Here's news: Jazz Winterlude and the JCCC Performing Arts Series invite you to two jazz performances in June: The Tyrone Clark Trio will perform on Monday, June 24 at noon to 1:00 p.m. in the Regnier Center Atrium on campus. On Wednesday, June 26, Gerald Spaits and Charles Perkins will perform from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in that space. The concerts are free, and Cafe Tempo will offer a free drink to those who purchase an entree (delicious!) between noon and 1:00 p.m. on those days. Join us for some fun!
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)
Sunday, June 16, 2013
It's time to repent. After thoroughly enjoying myself Friday at Jazz in the Woods, I realized that I need to come clean about my longstanding affection for the festival.
I witnessed the inception of Jazz in the Woods in the 1980s when drummer Vince Bilardo played swing-oriented jazz with locally-based musicians at the east side of the parking lot that now houses Garozzo's on College Boulevard. As the festival began to shun Kansas City's jazz musicians in favor of more marketable artists, I aimed ridicule and scorn at the organizers of Jazz in the Woods. Yet I continued to show up every year and never failed to have a good time.
Friday's presentation was no exception. Tony DeSare, a hybrid of John Pizzarelli and Michael Bublé, interpreted standards by Irving Berlin and Cole Porter in addition to covering songs by Prince, Bruce Springteen and Jerry Lee Lewis. Alas, he didn't play the Journey song that ignited a storm of incendiary fury at Plastic Sax a couple weeks ago. Greg Adams and East Bay Soul were fantastic in Adams' third appearance at Jazz in the Woods. The former member of Tower of Power led a large band through funk and R&B classics like "The World Is a Ghetto" and "What's Going On."
It's worth noting that well over half of the people within 100 feet of the stage were black. The demographics belie Johnson County's reputation as a bastion of white exclusivity and offers an answer to the oft-asked question about what became of the black audience for jazz. Factoring in both age and race, the audience of over 5,000 at Friday's event was the most diverse I've encountered in 2013. Aside from bored teenagers and disgruntled old folks who'd apparently expected to hear the sounds of Stan Kenton, everyone seemed to be wearing a smile.
My favorite jazz albums of 2013 include thorny efforts by the likes of Rudresh Mahanthappa. I acknowledge that most people don't want to subject themselves to that sort of noise. In fact, I've come to an even more divisive yet meaningful realization. Snobbish dismissals of smooth jazz are, at best, elitist. At worst, such derision contains shades of unintentional racism. I intend to cleanse myself of this socially acceptable yet unflattering bias.
After Friday's positive experience, I was looking forward to relaxing to the smooth jazz sounds of Julian Vaughn and Peter White at Jazz in the Woods the following night. I was crestfallen when the event was rained out.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)
Friday, June 14, 2013
Many of Kansas City's most accomplished musicians will travel north on I-29 this weekend to perform at the Coleman Hawkins Jazz Festival. A preview of the annual event is included in Joe Klopus' latest column.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
*Bob Barry, the man with the disruptively loud camera at events hosted by the American Jazz Museum, is featured in The Kansas City Star.
*Boulevard Brewing will donate a portion of sales of its KC Pils brand to the American Jazz Museum.
*KC Jazz Lark takes another fascinating then-and-now look at the Jazz District.
*"All For a Song" is a musical about the late Myra Taylor.
*A jazz novice reports on the scene at Harling's during a performance by New Jazz Order.
*A writer for The Pitch highlights a forthcoming gig by the Rich Wheeler Quartet.
*Clint Ashlock is blogging.
*Tweet o' the Week: HappyInBag- Mark Lowrey, Bob Bowman and Sam Wisman are paying tribute to Mulgrew Miller at @TheMajesticKC . #kcjazz
*Comment o' the Week: KC Jazz Lark- Actually, I had several commentators and media sources in mind when writing the Kansrocksas comments. I was even thinking back to the 1980s, when a movie on jazz played for one night at The Bijou Theater, then in Westport Square. A then-music columnist for the KC Star wrote that few people showed up, proving nobody attends jazz events in Kansas City anymore (I'm paraphrasing). I wrote a letter to the editor, which The Star published, responding that maybe the sparse crowd proved nothing more than jazz fans don't see a lot of movies at The Bijou. Equating failed events to jazz is dead dates back a long time.
*From Jim Mair: The 12th annual week long Kansas City Jazz Camp held on the beautiful campus of Kansas City Kansas Community College wrapped up on Friday June 7 with a stellar final concert. 55 students, ages 11 to 71 from as far away as St. Louis along with a star studded faculty which included NPR Radio Host, Ludwig clinician and North Dakota Governor's Award winner percussionist Scott Prebys, Missouri Governor's Award winner and Kansas City Jazz icon Everette Devan, Kansas Governor's Award winner and Selmer saxophone clinician Doug Talley, three time Grammy nominee guitarist Rod Fleeman, and Kansas City's most versatile bassist, a master of all styles James Albright.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)
Sunday, June 9, 2013
I began to detect the invigorating sound of The New Vintage Big Band from over half a block away as I walked toward the Brooksider Bar & Grill last Wednesday. The sound of a big band thrills me so much that it took all of my willpower to avoid the urge to accost passerby on the sidewalk who were ignoring the music.
"Where are you going?" I wanted to ask. "How can you possibly discount that sound?"
Once seated inside the Brooksider, I spotted about 30 people who shared my enthusiasm. Even with multiple large-screen televisions airing a Royals game and an NHL playoff match, these dedicated listeners remained mesmerized by the band. A few of the sports bar's other patrons managed to ignore the band in spite of its volume.
The current edition of New Vintage is a nice mix of established veterans (including Jeff Hamer and Rob Whitsitt), young up-and-comers (including Brett Jackson and Dominique Sanders) and several guys unfamiliar to me. A powerful solo by saxophonist David Freeland on "A Night In Tunisia" was very impressive.
The band used to play on the first Wednesday of each month at BB's Lawnside BBQ. I assume that it occupies the same slot at the Brookside establishment. I'm counting on someone from the band to confirm my hunch in the comment section of this post.
The New Vintage Big Band was last featured at Plastic Sax in 2009. The ensemble's Always and Forever album is available at Spotify.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
*The 2013 edition of the Coleman Hawkins Jazz Festival includes Matt Otto, Stan Kessler with Kathleen Holeman, the Doug Talley Quartet and the Wild Men of Kansas City. The free event takes place June 14-15 at Coleman Hawkins Park in St. Joseph, Missouri.
*The headliners of the fourth annual Jazz Winterlude are Terri Lyne Carrington and Arturo Sandoval. The festival at Johnson County Community College is January 24-25.
*Deborah Brown was interviewed by Joe Dimino of Neon Jazz.
*Michael Pagán praises the Green Lady Lounge.
*Beau Bledsoe offers a fascinating peek behind the curtains at Fado Novato's successful fundraising campaign to finance an extended trip to Portugal.
*Jim Mair has been recognized for his work at Kansas City Kansas Community College.
*Hermon Mehari provides background about a young musician in legal trouble. (Via Tony's Kansas City.)
*KC Jazz Lark commends the vitality of Kansas City's jazz scene while taking an apparent swipe at the author of this blog. Noting the cancelation of Kanrocksas, my good friend implies that had the festival been a jazz-oriented event, I would be "wetting myself" in a rush to "morbidly declare jazz is dead." The failure of the rock/hip hop/EDM-oriented Kanrocksas to sell 25,000 advance tickets at $200 a pop bears no relationship to the "lively but peaceful" status of a handful of small-capacity jazz venues. I reject the notion that I "hold the mortality of jazz to a different standard." Just last night, almost 2,000 fans paid $40 each to hear the XX- a band with rock, hip hop and EDM elements- perform at the Uptown Theater. The harsh reality is that far less than 2,000 people will attend jazz live jazz performances in the Kansas City area during the first ten days of June.
*In response to the previous Plastic Sax post about Charlie Parker, T.J. Martley kindly reminded the excitable author of this blog of his video transcription of "Little Willie Leaps."
*UMKC's Jazz Camp is June 23-27.
*Dean Minderman of St. Louis Jazz Notes analyzes the outstanding 2013-14 season of Jazz St. Louis. Highlights include Rudresh Mahanthappa, Joe Lovano's Us Five and the Bad Plus.
*Here's a promotional video for the Parkville River Jam, Jazz, Blues and Fine Arts Festival.
*Tweet o' the Week: Kyle Broussard- If @jpwayman post 1 more time about jazz in the woods I am un-following him.
*Comment o' the Week: Anonymous- I made it 90 seconds before I turned it off, but that's because I was distracted, shoving needles in to my gonads and extinguishing cigarettes on my forearm. (A less acerbic discussion is taking place here.)
*Clint Ashlock reports that his gig at Take Five Coffee + Bar this Saturday, June 8, features "a new project called Forward." The band includes Ashlock, Ryan Lee, Michael Shults, Andrew Ouellette and Karl McComas-Reichl "doing all original stuff."
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)