Friday, March 24, 2017

Now's the Time: Sherry Scott

Sherry Scott, a member of an early incarnation of Earth, Wind & Fire, will sing at the Blue Room on Saturday, March 25.  She battles an inattentive crowd in the embedded video.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The American Jazz Museum has modified the price of tickets to its forthcoming Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival.  Single day tickets were originally $50.  Prospective attendees now have an option to buy $25 main stage tickets and $15 passes to the Blue Room for each day.

*Joe Klopus considered the week in jazz.

*George Benson and Kenny G will perform at Muriel Kauffman Theatre on May 24.

*Hermon Mehari’s Bleu and Iberica, a collaboration between Matt Otto and Alaturka, were released last week.

*Jessie Riggins reviewed the Jazz 100 concert at Yardley Hall.

*KCUR aired a segment on Everette DeVan last week.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Brian Scarborough- Just caught Jazz 100 with @DaniloPerezJAZZ and company. Great music with an incredible lineup! Thanks for stopping in KC! #jazz

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Concert Review: Jazz 100 at Yardley Hall

I entered Yardley Hall with a chip on my shoulder on Sunday.  The promotional campaign for the "Jazz 100" concert at Yardley Hall exasperated me.  Instead of highlighting the names of the participants, the front of a postcard mailing for the event read "celebrating 100th birthdays of Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Mongo Santamaria and Thelonious Monk.”  Other marketing efforts for the final event of the Jazz Winterlude festival also treated members of the all-star band as irrelevant afterthoughts.

I didn’t buy a $30 ticket to honor the dead.  Instead, I was eager to hear the vivacious work of the all-star band assembled by pianist Danilo Pérez.  Vocalist Lizz Wright, saxophonist Chris Potter, trumpeter Avishai Cohen, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, bassist Ben Street, percussionist Roman Diaz and drummer Adam Cruz played as if they were eager to prove that vibrant jazz wasn’t exclusive to the previous century. 

The extended duet between Perez and Cohen that opened the concert dispelled my concerns.  Rather than attempting to evoke Gillespie, Cohen played in the meditative style documented on his most recent album for the ECM label.  His bandmates were similarly unburdened by the format.  Wright sounded nothing like Fitzgerald when she applied her gorgeous voice to selections including the obscure civil rights song ”It’s Up To Me and You”.

Perez’s solo rendition of “‘Round Midnight” contained none of Monk’s idiosyncrasies.  Even if Diaz wanted to approach Santamaria faithfully during his turn in the spotlight, there was no way the band would have allowed it.  The only familiar arrangement of the 90-minute concert was assigned to “Well, You Needn’t”, but Potter’s extended solo pushed well beyond John Coltrane's exploration.

With the exceptions of Street and Cruz, each member of the band had at least one such opportunity to display their core strength.  Rather than clashing, consequently, the radically mismatched frontline of Potter, Cohen and Gordon provided engaging variety.  Anyone in the audience of more than 500 who had hoped to revisit the 1950s was almost certainly disappointed.  I walked out of Yardley Hall on cloud nine.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Now's the Time: Dianne Reeves

The seasoned vocalist Dianne Reeves returns to Kansas City for a concert at the Gem Theater on Saturday, March 25.  Her most recent album includes covers of songs associated with Fleetwood Mac, Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Dick Hawk, the jazz enthusiast who owned the Gaslight Grill, has died.

*The announcement and subsequent retraction that Janelle Monaé would be the primary headliner of the KC Jazz & Heritage Festival occurred on February 22.  A statement issued by the American Jazz Museum that day suggested that "(i)t is the Museum's hope to announce the new headliner in the next 3 weeks."  That was three weeks ago today.

*Saxophonist Tivon Pennicott is in town and is sitting in at a few gigs this week.

*DownBeat magazine covered the celebration of Pat Metheny at last weekend’s Alternative Guitar Summit.

*Tweet o’ the Week: KC Parks Board- #KCParks Board approves agreement with @americanjazzkc for Jazz & Heritage Festival on The Paseo from Truman to 19th on #MemorialDayWeekend

*From a press release: The American Jazz Museum is thrilled to welcome nationally acclaimed Louisiana pianist, Jon Batiste, to accept its 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. The ceremony will take place in the Gem Theater on Friday, April 7, 2017, at 8:00pm... Batiste is currently the house bandleader on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert... Batiste’s significant strides in jazz at such a young age place him in historic company with other acclaimed artists, like Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald…  During the ceremony, several notable local musicians will perform to honor Batiste… Tickets are $45 for the Lifetime Achievement Award Ceremony…

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Theater Review: Live Bird at the Green Lady Lounge

Charlie Parker was resuscitated at the Orion Room of the Green Lady Lounge for about an hour last Friday.  Unfortunately, the jazz legend didn’t have anything new to say.  Jeff Robinson fully inhabits the character of the troubled genius in his one man show Live Bird.   Yet the lack of dramatic tension in the narrative vignette and the bromidic accolades about Kansas City’s jazz heyday are uninspiring.  The show becomes fully engaging only when Robinson picks up a saxophone.  Four patrons took in the play that was given an inadvertently appropriate soundtrack by the jazz band playing upstairs.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Now's the Time: Jazz 100

The good news: an all-star band consisting of vocalist Lizz Wright, saxophonist Chris Potter, trumpeter Avishai Cohen, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, pianist Danilo Perez, bassist Ben Street, percussionist Roman Diaz  and drummer Adam Cruz will perform at Johnson County Community College on Sunday, March 19.  The bad news: the concert is billed as "Jazz 100," a "celebration of the centennial birthdays of Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Mongo Santamaria and Ella Fitzgerald."  The embedded video indicates that the musicians are capable of transcending the dubious concept.