Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Shape of Jazz (Concerts) to Come: Flying Lotus at the Midland















Steven Ellison, the man who creates visionary music as Flying Lotus, offered an audience of more than 500 a peak into the future of jazz concerts at the Midland theater on Thursday.  His 70-minute show expanded the visual and sonic possibilities of jazz.

As demonstrated by “Never Catch Me”, Ellison’s most popular song, the Los Angeles based producer combines elements of cosmic jazz with hip-hop and funk.  Ellison’s 2015 album “You’re Dead!,” one of the most artful distillations of black American music in the new millennium, is a natural extension of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and his great aunt Alice Coltrane’s Journey in Satchidananda.

With no live instrumentation other than his occasional scat-inclined singing, Thursday’s spectacle resembled an electronic dance music concert for adults with a taste for jazz.  Wearing glasses that were distributed at the door, members of the audience dominated by people born in the 1980s greeted the introduction of each new 3D special effect like enthusiastic spectators at a fireworks display.

Marveling at virtual spaceships, writhing bodies and confetti will never replace the superior flesh-and-blood experience of listening to elite jazz musicians in intimate clubs, but Ellison has raised for the bar for jazz-related presentations in theaters.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Now's the Time: Everett Freeman


Everett Freeman, the versatile keyboardist prominently featured in the slick new video for Paula Saunders’ rendition of “Night and Day,” leads the weekly Monday jam session at the Blue Room on November 20.  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar lists 86 additional jazz performances next week.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes














*Joel Castillo and Alex Abramovitz were interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*The Irish Times pulished a revealing interview with Pat Metheny.  Here’s one of the rapturous reviews Metheny’s new quartet recently received in Europe.  (See the press release below for more Metheny-related news.)

*Helen Borgers, a jazz DJ on KKJZ in Long Beach who was born in Kansas City, has died.

*Marc Myers ponders the evolution of Count Basie’s sound.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Casino Guru- Fantastic place, not to mention right next to the American Blues Museum. It is a must see in KC, I also recommend Buck O'Neil's book

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous (presumed bot)- It's a shame you don't have a donate button!...

*From ECM Records: Over the past week we have begun the process of entering the world of streaming, and from November 17th, the full ECM catalogue will be available to subscribers to services including Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, Deezer, Tidal and Qobuz. This simultaneous launch across the platforms – facilitated by a new digital distribution agreement with Universal Music – invites listeners to explore the wide range of music recorded by our artists in the course of nearly five decades of independent production. Although ECM’s preferred mediums remain the CD and LP, the first priority is that the music should be heard…

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Concert Review: Victor Wooten at the Madrid Theatre













Near the end of his two-hour concert for the approximately 270 men and 30 women who had purchased $30 tickets to hear him at the Madrid Theatre on Tuesday, Victor Wooten pondered the healing power of music: “Who’s working on the bomb that makes people love each other?  We already have it.  I call it a 'cupid bomb.'”

Wooten’s weapons of mass affection came in two forms.  When he locked into James Brown-inspired grooves with saxophonist Bob Franceschini and drummer Dennis Chambers, selflessly jubilant funk permeated the room.  Wooten also indulged fans on hand to witness the many astounding ways in which he’s expanding the possibilities of the electric bass.

During an extended unaccompanied exercise in looping, Wooten evoked the contemplative approach of his fellow bass master Eberhard Weber.  A few additional tricks involved considerably less subtlety, but Wooten’s engaging smile made even his most egregious showboating palatable.  Wooten opened the concert by joking that “my name is Stanley Clarke.”  Although he referenced Clarke’s 1976 hit “School Days” later in the show, Wooten demonstrated that he’s his own man.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Now's the Time: Aldo López-Gavilán


The Cuban pianist Aldo López-Gavilán will join the Harlem Quartet when the ensemble returns to Johnson County Community College on Friday, November 10.  (Plastic Sax reviewed the Harlem Quartet’s appearance on the campus in August.)  López-Gavilán gracefully bridges the divide between jazz and classical music in the embedded video.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes














*Kansas City was one of the 64 cities added to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network on Oct. 31.  A report by KCUR provides additional context. 

*Tim Finn includes jazz acts in his survey of Kansas City’s music scene.

*Tweet o’ the Week: UMKC Conservatory- What a great night at the Black Dolphin! Catch our #jazz combos again next Wednesday, 6pm at Grand Street Cafe! #KCjazz #UMKCCons

*Comment o’ the Week: Chris Burnett- I had the opportunity to spend most of an entire day with Ms. Maye when she received the American Jazz Museum's "Lifetime Achievement Award" a few years ago… Her concert was first-rate then too.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Concert Review: Marilyn Maye at Quality Hill Playhouse















“Oh, that was dirty!”  Marilyn Maye’s apt analysis of her grinding rendition of “Honeysuckle Rose” in the final date of a seven-show run at Quality Hill Playhouse on Sunday affirmed her conviction that age ain’t nothing but a number.

Accompanied by pianist Tedd Firth, bassist Gerald Spaits and drummer Daniel Glass, Maye, 89, was as vital as ever in her 75-minute outing.  The iconic vocalist’s leg kicks are now “only” waist-high, but her voice still soars to the heavens.

In addition to exploring Waller’s best-known compositions, she delivered several Johnny Mercer songs and a spate of less obvious selections including an oddly effective interpretation of the Frankie Valli hit “My Eyes Adored You” and a smoky reading of Barry Manilow’s “Paradise Café.” 

Maye confessed that she didn’t understand why fans demanded that she perform sad songs before she brought down the house with a version of the heartbreaking “Guess Who I Saw Today.”  She followed it with an equally wrenching version of “Fifty Percent,” a song from the 1978 musical “Ballroom.” 

Maye owns James Taylor’s “Secret O’ Life.”  When she intoned the lines “the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time… and since we're only here for a while we might as well show some style,” it’s clear that she knows whereof she sings.  “It’s Today,” a showstopper from “Mame” that Maye described as her mantra, was similarly inspiring.

Near the end of her performance, Maye asked a retired restraunteur in the audience if she had baked her a pie.  The woman replied “I’m too old.”  Wrong answer.  Maye testily snapped “no, you’re not.”  After all, Maye had just spent 75 minutes demonstrating that there’s no such thing as “too old.”

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)