Thursday, December 14, 2017

Now's the Time: Tatsuya Nakatani

The experimental percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani will make a racket at the 1900 building on Sunday, December 17.  The embedded video indicates that he doesn’t require accompaniment, but Shawn Hansen, Mike Stover and Jeff Harshbarger will be on hand should Nakatani need any assistance.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Green Lady Radio, a free streaming service that showcases Kansas City jazz recordings, is now available.

*Stan Kessler’s new album Skywatcher was recently released.

*A La Mode was featured on television station KMCI.

*The December issue of Jazz Ambassador Magazine includes an article about The Kansas City Jazz Calendar, a joint venture of Plastic Sax and the Green Lady Lounge.

*A blogger included albums by Matt Otto and Bobby Watson and a track by Hermon Mehari and Kevin Johnson in his genre-agnostic year-end lists.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Ryan Heinlein- Ah the holidays, when musicians (for some reason) love to promote their private gigs.

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- Thanks for resurrecting the KC Jazz Calendar. It's really helpful when I'm looking for a show to attend. Do you (or any reader of PS) know where one can find a JAM magazine? It's Dec 12 and I can not find one in any of the usual places.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Top Jazz-Related Stories and Trends of 2017

1. Fest Flop
The Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival was intended to signal the prowess of the American Jazz Museum’s new management structure.  The plan backfired.  The institution was belted with a catastrophic blow to its reputation and finances following the May event.  An inaccurate announcement that Janelle Monáe would be the primary headliner was the first in a series of miscues.  Performances by jazz heavyweights such as Chick Corea (photo), John Scofield, Regina Carter, Brian Blade and Houston Person were sparsely attended.  An odd emphasis on appearances by members of the cast of the television series Empire didn’t pay dividends either.

2. Fest Fallout
Following a torrent of bad publicity that included bounced checks and a weak turnout, the American Jazz Museum laid off staff, tabled its annual concert series at the Gem Theater and ceded control to the Parks Department.

3. Dolphin Dance
The expansion of the Green Lady Lounge jazz complex was the most encouraging development of 2017.  The Black Dolphin, a venue directly to the north of the Green Lady Lounge, is the latest edition to the jazz hub in the heart of the Crossroads District.  The Black Dolphin, the Orion Room and the Green Lady Lounge host more than 20 performances every week.

4. It’s Alive
KC Jazz Alive doubled down on its commitment to the area scene in 2017.  The organization’s covenant to honor the legacy of Charlie Parker included bringing pianist Sullivan Fortner and saxophonist Tivon Pennicott to Kansas City for a series of performances with locally based musicians.

5. Grave Offense
Territorial grandstanding dramatically diminished attendance at the annual Charlie Parker graveside memorial service.  Only four saxophonists participated in the “21-sax salute” at Lincoln Cemetery.

6. Cracks in the Foundation
The 100th anniversary of the founding of the Mutual Musicians Foundation should have been a big deal.  Instead, ongoing turmoil at the historic site tarnished the centennial.

7. I Could Write a Book
The publication of Changing the Tune: The Kansas City Women’s Jazz Festival, 1978-1985 served as a reminder that presenting large scale jazz events in Kansas City is extremely difficult.

8. Cultured
Citing Kansas City’s jazz history, UNESCO added the municipality to its Creative Cities Network.

9. Special Edition
While the lineup of the controversial Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival was loaded with formidable talent, the the year’s most thrilling one-two punch occurred on April 22.  Several dozen jazz aficionados managed to take in a performance of Bill Frisell’s score for The Great Flood at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art before racing to the Gem Theater to hear the adventurous trio of Jack Dejohnette, Ravi Coltrane and Matthew Garrison.

10. It’s a Date
The Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been resurrected.  The comprehensive listing is a community service of Plastic Sax and the Green Lady Lounge.

(Photo of the meager audience for the Chick Corea Trio at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, December 8, 2017

Now's the Time: Hermon Mehari

Hermon Mehari’s sole headlining appearance of 2017 in the Kansas City area will take place at Polsky Theatre on Sunday, December 17.  The trumpeter is likely to focus on material from his debut solo album Bleu.  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar offers details about more than 150 additional jazz performances between now and then.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Aarik Danielsen previewed Bobby Watson’s concerts in Columbia for The Columbia Daily Tribune.

*Joe Klopus highlighted an upcoming performance by the Spanish Harlem Orchestra for The Kansas City Star.

*Doug Talley was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*Havilah and Triple Play’s Come Rain or Come Shine album was released in October.

*Chris Burnett compiled a list of the “Top Jazz of 2017”.

*The Glenn Miller Orchestra will perform at Muriel Kauffman Theatre on June 14, 2018.

*Marc Myers’ remembrance of the late guitarist Mundell Lowe includes a compelling anecdote about Charlie Parker.

*A track from Bobby Watson’s Made in America was featured on a “Best of 2017” program on radio station 90.9 The Bridge.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Bill BrownleeThe gracious folks at @909thebridge are allowing me to return to the station this evening. I'll play hip-hop, jazz, gospel, blues and R&B tracks from 6-7 p.m.  #EightOneSixty (link)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Plastic Sax’s Favorite Albums and Performances of 2017

Favorite Albums by Kansas City Based Artists
1. Matt Otto and Ensemble Ibérica- Ibérica (Plastic Sax review)
2. Bobby Watson- Made in America (Plastic Sax review)
3. Hermon Mehari- Bleu (Plastic Sax review)
4. Dino Massa's Kansas City Quintet- Echoes of Europe (review at KCUR)
5. Julian Vaughn- Bona Fide
6. Matt Otto and Andy Ehling- Reunion (Plastic Sax review)
7. Deborah Brown- Kansas City, Here I Come
8. Steve Lambert- Seven Stories (Plastic Sax review)
9. The Matt Cook Collective- Along Those Lines (Plastic Sax review)
10. The Sextet- Blob Castle (Plastic Sax review)

Favorite Albums By Artists From Elsewhere
1. Miguel Zenón- Típico
2. Aruán Ortiz- Cub(an)ism
3. Yelena Eckemoff- Blooming Tall Phlox
4. Rob Luft- Riser
5. Rudresh Mahanthappa and the Indo-Pak Coalition- Agrima
6. Avishai Cohen- Cross My Palm With Silver
7. Tigran Hamasyan- An Ancient Observer
8. Kamasi Washington- Harmony of Difference
9. Ron Miles- I Am a Man
10. Various- The Passion of Charlie Parker (Plastic Sax review)

Favorite Performances by Kansas City Based Artists
1. Marilyn Maye- Quality Hill Playhouse (Plastic Sax review)
2. Matt Otto Trio with Anthony Wilson and Shay Estes- Blue Room
3. Alaturka- Polsky Theatre (Plastic Sax review)
4. Owen/Cox Dance Group and the People’s Liberation Big Band- Polsky Theatre (Plastic Sax review)
5. Gerald Spaits’ Sax & Violins- Westport Coffeehouse
6. The Project H- Black Dolphin
7. Eddie Moore, Dominique Sanders and Zach Morrow- Plaza Art Fair
8. Nate Nall Sextet- Homer’s Coffee House
9. Blair Bryant- The Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival
10. Stan Kessler Quartet- Black Dolphin

Favorite Performances by Artists From Elsewhere
1. Donny McCaslin- Folly Theater (Plastic Sax review)
2. Brian Blade Fellowship- Gem Theater
3. Danilo Pérez’s “Jazz 100”- Yardley Hall (Plastic Sax review)
4. Thundercat- Granada (Plastic Sax review)
5. Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane and Matthew Garrison- Gem Theater (Plastic Sax review)
6. Ramsey Lewis- Gem Theater (review at The Kansas City Star)
7. Greg Tardy Trio- Blue Room (review at The Kansas City Star)
8. Flying Lotus- Midland (Plastic Sax review)
9. John Scofield- Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival (review at The Kansas City Star)
10. Victor Wooten Trio- Madrid Theatre (Plastic Sax review)

Plastic Sax conducted similar exercises in 2016 (albums and performances), 2015, 2014 (albums and performances), 2013 (albums and performances), 2012, 2011 and 2010.

(Original image of Thundercat at the Granada by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Now's the Time: Michael Shults

How can we miss Michael Shults if he won’t stay away?  Once a leading light in Kansas City’s jazz community, the bright young saxophonist left town to become a music professor at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.  He leads a quartet at the Black Dolphin on Friday, December 1, and plays in an organ trio format at the Green Lady Lounge on Sunday, December 3, during a return to his old stomping grounds.  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar lists a multitude of alternate bookings.