Monday, April 24, 2017

Concert Review: Bill Frisell at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Jack DeJohnette Trio at the Gem Theater














Two titans of improvised music performed in Kansas City on Saturday.

Appearing in the Harriman-Jewell Series, Bill Frisell and three co-conspirators provided live accompaniment for a screening of Bill Morrison’s documentary The Great Flood.  Jack DeJohnette closed the 2016-17 season of the American Jazz Museum’s Jazz at the Gem.

How to choose?  I didn’t.  Along with few dozen other zealots who were among both audiences of about 500,  I attended Frisell’s 5 p.m. show and the 8 p.m. concert in the Jazz District.  The investment was significant.  I acquired the last available Frisell ticket for $35.  Day-of-show admission to DeJohnette was $60.  It was worth it.

Frisell, trumpet player Ron Miles, bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Gerald Cleaver read from sheet music as they gave voice to the degraded newsreel footage displayed on a screen at the back of the stage of Atkins Auditorium.  I found it emotionally exhausting- not to mention distracting- to study the bleak images.  I often closed my eyes to better focus on Frisell’s gorgeous tones.

Unfortunately, Frisell’s score for The Great Flood is aligned with the most circumspect of the many styles he has recorded on his three dozen solo albums.  While undeniably evocative, the pastoral Americana became wearisome.  I waited for a moment of cathartic dissonance that never arrived.

There was plenty of noise at the Gem Theater.  Of the hundreds of exhibitions of improvised music I’ve attended in Kansas City that have attracted more than 100 people, Saturday’s show was the most obtuse and least accessible.  Only a few ticket-holders walked out even though DeJohnette, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and bassist/laptop-ist Matthew Garrison ((yes- that Coltrane, and that Garrison)) kicked up a daringly dense racket.

DeJohnette sounded like himself- that is, nothing like anyone else- as he played martial patterns.  Garrison created the contemporary sonic landscapes associated with Thundercat.  Like almost every other post-bop reed man, Coltrane couldn't avoid referencing his father.

Working primarily from the prickly material on In Movement, the uncompromising trio’s sinister set might have been intended as a murky reflection on our foreboding times.  Only during DeJohnette’s stints at the piano did glimmers of hope flicker inside the Gem Theater.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Now's the Time: Jack DeJohnette


Hearing bassist Matt Garrison and saxophonist Ravi Coltrane reinterpret their fathers’ contributions to “Wise One” in the embedded video is chilling.  Drummer Jack DeJohnette reworks Elvin Jones’ part on a reading of the track from John Coltrane’s 1964 album Crescent.  The lumintous trio will perform at the Gem Theater on Saturday, April 22.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes















*John Scott of the Green Lady Lounge spoke to Tim Finn of The Kansas City Star about his acquisition of the Tank Room.

*The American Jazz Museum added the Chick Corea Trio and Lalah Hathaway to the lineup of its KC Jazz & Heritage Festival.  C.J. Janovy updated her story about the troubled rollout of the forthcoming event for KCUR.

*Joe Klopus surveyed the week in jazz for The Kansas City Star.

*Four albums by Matt Otto are examined by Bird Is the Worm.

*Steve Kraske interviewed Hermon Mehari for KCUR.

*The live music component of Corvino’s Supper Club & Tasting Room is featured near the conclusion of a video report about the new establishment.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Steve Paul- Worth the road trip to hear @PatMetheny in Wichita w: @mattwilsonjazz, Martin Wind and 2nd set with symphony players from Wich State. (photo)

*From a press release: The Kansas City Aviation Department… is teaming up with the American Jazz Museum with a welcome mat like no other: live Kansas City Jazz music… The American Jazz Museum will provide Blue Room jazz club artists who will play during peak arrival times on Sundays, Mondays and Fridays from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm. Aviation Department Facilities Maintenance craftsmen built a small stage in Terminal B by the Southwest Airlines baggage claim where Blue Room jazz musicians can play so visitors will be greeted with Kansas City jazz tunes… The upcoming performance schedule is as follows: Friday, April 21st – John Paul Drum; Sunday, April 23rd – Stan Kessler; Monday, April 24th- Everett Freeman; Friday, April 29th – Eddie Moore; Sunday, April 30th – Kenny Glover.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Concert Review: Agora at the Green Lady Lounge















The Green Lady Lounge might consider serving specialty cocktails replete with umbrellas during performances by Agora.  The new group led by guitarist Matt Hopper plays Brazilian-themed retro-lounge tunes.  While decidedly in the louche tradition of space-age bachelor pad music, the output of Hopper, organist Ken Lovern, percussionist Patrick Conway and drummer Todd Strait resembled the sound of Rosinha de Valença more than Walter Wanderley at the venue last week.  Agora returns to the Green Lady Lounge on Tuesday, April 18.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Now's the Time: The Kandinsky Effect


The Kandinsky Effect, a trio with members based in New York and Paris, will perform at the Riot Room on Friday, April 14.  The group suggests that it forges a “sonic journey through 21st century jazz dreamtime.”  Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle and the Xtraordinair$, the production team of Leonard Dstroy & Dominique Sanders, open the show.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes
















*Larry Kopitnik reports that John Scott, the owner of the Kansas City jazz venue the Green Lady Lounge, has acquired the nearby Tank Room.

*The text accompanying a photo spread in The Kansas City Star characterizes the Green Lady Lounge as “the epicenter of the city.”

*Pat Metheny is among the marquee acts at this month’s Wichita Jazz Festival.

*Herbie Hancock and an all-star band will perform at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts on August 12.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Jon Batiste- I'm honored to receive the American Jazz Museum Lifetime Achievement Award. It is a privilege to represent our culture. (photo)

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- The McCaslin show was outstanding. Thanks for getting the word out.

*From Chris Burnett: We are pleased to announce that the "Live at the Hollywood Theater" artist selections for the 2017 and 2018 seasons are confirmed as follows: 2017 - May: Queen Bey; 2017 - Nov: Megan Birdsall; 2018 - May: Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle; 2018 - Nov: Chris Hazelton's Boogaloo 7.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Concert Review: Donny McCaslin at the Folly Theater

















Donny McCaslin raised the bar at the Folly Theater on Friday.  Receptive members of the audience of about 300 are likely to judge all future jazz performances by the exceedingly high standard set by McCaslin and his three collaborators.

McCaslin, a New York-based tenor saxophonist, keyboardist Jason Lindner, bassist Jonathan Maron and drummer Mark Guiliana, played two sets of electronica-laced post-bop that made the work of many jazz musicians seem hopelessly passé and stiflingly inhibited.

The group (with Maron of Groove Collective filling in for Tim Lefebvre) became a sensation by providing the core sound of David Bowie’s 2016 swan song Blackstar.  A rendition of the album’s “Lazarus” proved that McCaslin’s ensemble could reproduce the sonic attack without studio trickery.  They closed the transcendent show with a frenetic reading of Bowie’s “Look Back in Anger.”

McCaslin used a number of effects to manipulate his bruising playing, but an extended unaccompanied solo during “Memphis Redux” indicated that his unadorned tone is also astonishing.  Linder’s contributions- an unlikely combination of the electronic funk artist Flying Lotus and Rick Wakeman of Yes- indicated that progressive rock can be surprisingly sexy.

While revelatory, I fear that the decisive concert further diminished my already limited tolerance for cautious, commonplace jazz.

Set list: Shake Loose, Glory, untitled new song, Lazarus, Fast Future, untitled new song, Memphis Redux, Look Back in Anger

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)