Thursday, April 17, 2014

Now's the Time: Nathan Davis

For many locally-based jazz fans, choosing between Saturday's two high-profile concerts will be easy.  The new-school crowd will elect to take in the performance by the Brad Mehldau Trio at the Folly Theater.  The lionized pianist is a media darling.  Hometown boosters and old-school swing aficionados will head to the Gem Theater.  The event is billed as a Lifetime Achievement Award concert for Nathan Davis, a native of Kansas City, Kansas.  Largely unknown in the United States in spite of a stint with Eric Dolphy, Davis will be joined by trombone legend Curtis Fuller, piano great George Cables, bassist Abraham Laboriel and drummer Winard Harper.  Cables and Laboriel appear with Davis in the embedded video.  Joe Klopus previewed the two concerts for The Kansas City Star.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joe Klopus crafted an invaluable summary of Nathan Davis' career.  The native of Kansas City, Kansas, performs at the Gem Theater on Saturday.

*A celebration of the life of Dionne Jeroue was documented by KCJazzLark.

*Bobby Watson discusses Horizon with a Pennsylvania-based journalist.  The publication gave the band's concert a rave review.

*Black House shares a blooper reel.

*The Pitch advises readers of the Sons' of Brasil's regular gigs at Broadway Jazz Club.

*The Jazz Journalists Association named Jon Poses of Columbia, Missouri, a "jazz hero".

*Tweet o' the Week: Brian Baggett- I like metronomes. Good times!

*From a press release: Kansas City based group Diverse is preparing to release their second album in early May. “Our Journey” is a project of all original jazz music that was recorded in Paris, France, and features the core members Hermon Mehari on trumpet, Ryan Lee on drums, and Ben Leifer on the bass. Parisian pianist Tony Tixier augments the ensemble throughout and special guest alto saxophonist Logan Richardson plays on a few numbers. Diverse will celebrate the release of this album at the Blue Room in Kansas City on May 9th… It will feature the core members and pianist Tony Tixier who will be flown in from Paris. Start time is 8:30 PM with a $10 admission.

*I've been surprised and delighted to receive a few complaints regarding my failure to update the Kansas City Jazz Calendar.  I apologize.  I hope to fulfill my obligations soon.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ziggy Played Drums

I found the perfect vantage point for a performance featuring the aggressive saxophonist Rob Scheps

As I sat in a low-slung booth shielded by a glass partition at Lucky Brewgrille last Friday, I could only see the band of Scheps, guitarist Ron Carlson, bassist Bill McKemy and drummer Eliot Zigmund if I propped myself up against the back of my seat. 

I felt secure knowing that Scheps couldn't give me the business. 

Hearing the band wasn't a problem.  Their output was so loud that my waitress cupped her hands around her mouth and yelled when she first came to my table. 

The extreme volume was instigated by Zigmund.  I expected the drummer who is featured on several Bill Evans albums to be frail.  Was I ever wrong!  While unflaggingly tasteful, Zigmund is a powerhouse.  Now I know why the likes of Evans, Jim Hall, Gary Peacock and Michel Petrucciani hired Zigmund. 

And for what it's worth, Scheps' stunning work in his frequent visits to Kansas City has made him one of my favorite mainstream saxophonists.  Zigmund and Scheps will perform at Take Five Coffee on Friday, April 18, and at the Blue Room on Saturday, April 19.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Now's the Time: Catherine Russell

Jazz shows are infrequent at Knuckleheads.  The last jazz-oriented vocalist I heard at the venue was Myra Taylor.  Like the late Kansas City legend, the New York-based Catherine Russell possesses a bluesy style that should win over the audience at the East Bottoms roadhouse on Wednesday, April 16.  Joe Klopus previewed Russell's performance in his column for The Kansas City Star.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Pitch touts the career prospects of Kelley Gant.

*Sunday's concert by Chick Corea and Béla Fleck was reviewed by The Kansas City Star and KC Metropolis.

*Saxophonist Ryan Anselmi's new album Lookout Road contains a hybrid of jazz and Americana sounds.

*Pat Metheny recalls the influence Wes Montgomery had on his early work.

*Megan Birdsall is interviewed by The Pitch about her Americana project MBird.

*Jazz blogging is harder than it looks.

*Tweet o' the Week: Nicholas Segura- It didn't really hit until tonight, I'll miss you so so much my sister Dionne Jeroue

*From a press release: Nationally-syndicated jazz variety show the 12th Street Jump will return to the Broadway Jazz Club on Wednesday, April 16th from 7:30 pm to 9pm and will celebrate the music of double bassist and composer Charles Mingus with special guest Steve Lambert on saxophone.  

*From a press release: (T)he Kansas City Kansas Community College Jazz Band is ramping up fundraising efforts for its trip to the 2014 Havana International Jazz Festival later this year… The KCKCC Jazz Band was invited to perform at the 2014 Havana International Jazz Festival in Havana, Cuba last fall. The festival is Dec. 17 to 22…  Donations are currently being accepted to help the KCKCC Jazz Band with the approximately $60,000 of travel expenses...

*From Michael Shults: This Friday night from 7-11 at Louie's Wine Dive I'm playing a very special show with a great tenor saxophonist from Cincinnati named Oz Landesberg. Oz is, in my view, the top saxophone player in the Queen City and was one of my greatest inspirations during my two years there. Really looking forward to this one. We'll be joined by Seth Lee and TJ Martley. Wanted to encourage everyone to come out and check out Oz's fabulous playing and welcome him to KC for the weekend!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Album Review: Mike Dillon's Band of Outsiders

I spent much of the weekend attending showcases by hip-hop and punk musicians at Ink's Middle of the Map Fest.  With the possible exception of two or three bookings including the Jorge Arana Trio, jazz-based artists were not among the 120 acts featured at the three-day festival.

The glaring omission might have been filled in part by Mike Dillon.  His new album Band of Outsiders is a potent blend of jazz, punk and jam band elements. 

Dillon has spent a significant portion of his career playing jazz-inspired music in rock-oriented venues in Kansas City.  Tom Waits and Frank Zappa are obvious reference points, but I've long thought of Dillon's sound as Lionel Hampton jamming with the Minutemen.  And because the new album features the exciting young trombonist Carly Meyers, the influence of J.J. Johnson is now an integral part of the mix.  (Meyers is featured in a 2013 performance with Dillon at St. Louis' KDHX here.)

Dillon and his partners in crime play jazz with sharp elbows.

I love attending jazz performances at refined clubs and concert halls.  Yet last weekend served as another reminder that jostling with dance-minded celebrants at crowded nightclubs is exhilarating.  When I listen to the earliest recordings of Kansas City jazz pioneers ranging from Bennie Moten to Charlie Parker, I sense a visceral sense of danger.  Much of today's jazz lacks that populist sense of immediacy.

Dillon's new album helps reestablish jazz's neglected connection to the functional music of the street.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Now's the Time: Chick Corea and Béla Fleck

Although he emerged from the world of bluegrass, Béla Fleck has been on the jazz tip for years. His arrangement of Chick Corea's "Spain" in the embedded video is remarkable. Fleck and Corea perform as a duet Sunday at Helzberg Hall. Joe Klopus previewed the concert in his column for The Kansas City Star.