Thursday, May 28, 2020

Now's the Time: Mary Lou Williams


Mary Lou Williams established a reputation as a stellar arranger and composer while working in Kansas City in the late 1920s.  Her appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1978 came three years before her death.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Jazzy Jamdemic concert series continues through July 3.

*Ted Panken catches up with Eldar Djangirov for Downbeat.

*Steve Paul checks in with Bobby Watson for KC Studio.

*Patrick Neas promotes the 2020-21 season of the Folly Jazz Series in The Kansas City Star.

*Joe Dimino interviewed Candace Evans, E.E. Pointer and Dan Thomas.

*Tweet o’ the Week: KC Jazz Orchestra- KCJO's annual four-concert series is back and ready to wow you with a season that celebrates Kansas City's most beloved jazz icons. Subscription renewals under way, new subscriptions available beginning June 15! (link)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, May 24, 2020

I Voted

I elected to join the Jazz Journalist Association after sitting next to Howard Mandel for much of the Chicago Jazz Festival last year.  Mandel is President and Executive Director of the enterprise dedicated to “the creation and dissemination of accurate, balanced, ethical and informative journalism on all of jazz’s genres.”

I hope my affiliation with the JJA will boost the profile of my ongoing documentation of Kansas City’s jazz scene, and will in some small way contribute to an eventual reestablishment of Kansas City as a vital jazz hub.  The first true benefit I redeemed after paying my dues fee derived from the satisfaction I felt in nominating Kansas City’s Peter Schlamb alongside Joel Ross and Stefan Harris as Mallet Player of the Year in the JJA Jazz Awards.  Even though Schlamb didn’t make the final ballot, I was pleased to give him a little shine.

No musicians based in Kansas City were among the JJA winners, an omission that mirrors the discouraging results of almost every jazz poll of recent years.  I intend to continue to do my part in bringing the work of worthy artists like Schlamb to prominence in the years to come.

(Original image of Joel Ross at the Chicago Jazz Festival in 2019 by Plastic Sax.)

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Now's the Time: Coleman Hawkins


Coleman Hawkins was born in Saint Joseph, Missouri, in 1904. He attended Topeka High School and Washburn University prior to attaining immortality in New York.  The breathlessness of the hokey hipster narrator in the embedded video is understandable.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Lonnie McFadden’s virtual concerts are the subject of a KCUR audio feature.

*Bobby Watson performs and talks about his forthcoming album in a Jazziz “Happy Hour” video.  Watson’s segment begins at the 32:45 mark.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Essential to my wife, so at home- #vinylrecords from my #vinylcollection People into jazz know Kansas City. People in Kansas City know Pete Eye. Pete only put out a couple of records, but they’re really great.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Grading the 2020-21 Season of the Folly Jazz Series

The last concert I attended before the coronavirus lockdown was Luciana Souza’s appearance in the Folly Jazz Series on March 7.  The Kansas City debut of the innovative Brazilian was filled with surprises.  The recently announced 2020-21 bookings in the Folly Jazz Series don’t hold much potential for the thrill of discovery.  Conventional, tried-and-true sounds by touring musicians already familiar to Kansas City audiences dominate the season.  The absence of the centennial tribute to Kansas City’s Charlie Parker- the most important tour of the year- is particularly egregious.

Karrin Allyson
Saturday, October 17
Karrin Allyson rose to fame while living in Kansas City.  Her homecomings are always welcome.  She last performed in the Folly Jazz Series in 2016.
Grade: B

David Benoit
Saturday, December 12
David Benoit’s biography suggests the keyboardist “has reigned supreme as one the founding fathers of contemporary jazz” for decades.  Joined by the son of Mel Tormé, Benoit and his band will revisit his popular 2000 tribute to Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas.  The Folly last hosted Benoit’s holiday show in 2015.
Grade: C-

Jeff Lorber
Saturday, January 16
I walked to Line Creek Park in 1977 or 1978 to catch a free Sunday evening concert by a group led by Jeff Lorber.  The fusion band’s saxophonist was a scrawny kid named Kenny G.  Lorber performed at the Gem Theater in 2014.
Grade: C+

Anat Cohen
Friday, February 12
Anat Cohen is an Israeli clarinetist with wide-ranging interests.  She’ll be joined by Vitor Gonçalves, Tal Mashiach and James Shipp, men who helped make her lightly attended 2018 appearance at the Gem Theater extraordinary.
Grade: B+

Paquito D'Rivera Quintet
Saturday, March 20
The Cuban saxophonist and clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera, 71, is a Latin jazz mainstay.  The former member of Irakere is making his first public appearance in Kansas City in recent years.
Grade: B+

Eliane Elias
Friday, April 9
Eliane Elias has repeatedly proven she’s a sublime performer on Kansas City stages.  The Brazilian chanteuse and pianist last appeared at the Folly in 2017.
Grade: B

(Original image of materials from the 2006-2007 season of the Folly Jazz Series by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Now's the Time: Richard Ross


Joe Cartwright recently made the world a better place with his upload of a jubilant 1984 performance by the Richard Ross Trio.  The invaluable footage features the late drummer, vocalist and bandleader, pianist Cartwright and bassist Gerry Leonard tearing into a blues number.  Ruth Rhoden, the co-host of KCUR’s sorely missed program Just Jazz, eggs them on.