Wednesday, December 11, 2013
*Joyce Smith of The Kansas City Star reports on the food and beverage options at the Broadway Jazz Club.
*The shocking history of Paseo Hall is examined by KC Jazz Lark.
*The Pitch recommends Logan Richardson's performance at the Blue Room.
*The New York Times notes the new biographies of Charlie Parker by Stanley Crouch and Chuck Haddix.
*Blog post from Chris Burnett: "You are an artist AND a business". Burnett also posted his top albums of 2013.
*Jeff Harshbarger is among the participants in The Kansas City Star's year-end top albums list poll.
*Regina Carter will perform at Helzberg Hall on March 23, 2014.
*Tweet o' the Week: Brian Scarborough: Just came across this last night. Thanks for the shout out Plastic Sax! #kcjazz
*Comment o' the Week: Anonymous: Good post. I with you when you say, "I'm not in the market for a $29 dollar filet mignon or a $12 martini..." me neither. I will gladly pay a reasonable cover charge and buy (reasonable) drinks but they can keep the high priced food.
*From the American Jazz Museum: Convergence in Blue. Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle. Thursday, December 12, 2013 • 7 p.m. Blue Room Jazz Club. This special Jazz Showcase in the award-winning Blue Room jazz club will fuse performing and visual artists in spontaneous performance. Three visual artists will be commissioned to create original works as the music evolves in collaboration with the performance work from the jazz artists on the stage. Three separate visual art stations will be created to complement the performance space within the Blue Room, thus giving the audience an intimate connection to the creative process at work. This event is free and open to the public.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)
Monday, December 9, 2013
After attending a media event at the Broadway Jazz Club last week, I can confirm that the chatter about the resurrection of Jardine's is justified. The new venue at 3601 Broadway has the look and feel of the shuttered jazz venue. The Broadway Jazz Club officially opened on Friday, December 6.
Two prominent bloggers offer contrasting perspectives. Paul Wilson's endorsement of the Broadway Jazz Club notes that the sound system is excellent. I'll add that the food I sampled was tasty and that the staff was charming during my initial visit.
In a hypercritical editorial, Tony's Kansas City suggests that a "glut" of jazz venues showcase "Kansas City's signature but mostly dead art form." While Tony is just trying to be funny, I am concerned that much the core constituency of Jardine's may be unwilling to drive 1.4 miles north into midtown.
The old Jardine's set could afford to dine at the Broadway Jazz Club. I'm not in the market for a $29 dollar filet mignon or a $12 martini, but I might be tempted by the $11 pork tenderloin sandwich and a beer or a $14 roasted barbabietole salad and a glass of tap water. I'm also eager to discover how jazz fans reluctant to order food will be treated.
I'm not likely to get an answer this week. Because there are no calendar listings, I'm unable to plan my next visit.
Footage of Megan Birdsall singing "Love For Sale" on Saturday captures of bit of the ambiance of the Broadway Jazz Club.
(Original image of Mark Lowrey, Dominique Sanders and Brian Steever by Plastic Sax.)
Friday, December 6, 2013
I first took notice of Brian Scarborough a year or two ago. After the trombonist took a daring solo during a People's Liberation Big Band performance at the RecordBar, I leaned into someone at an adjoining table.
"Who is that kid?" I asked.
If the measure of a man is the company he keeps, Scarborough is a burgeoning giant.
He performs with Matt Otto, Danny Embrey, Jeff Harshbarger and Brandon Draper in the embedded video. On Friday, December 6, at Take Five Coffee + Bar, Scarborough will appear a similar lineup of Kansas City's jazz elite. His band will include Otto, Harshbarger, Draper and T.J. Martley.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
*The invaluable new site Bobby Watson Speaks contains "Deleted Scenes from A Candid Conversation with Bobby Watson."
*In a damning editorial, KC Jazz Lark characterizes initial plans for the 18th & Vine museum complex as "an oasis ringed by blight."
*Jazz Tokyo offers a seemingly comprehensive look at Chuck Haddix's biography of Charlie Parker.
*A site dedicated to the genealogy and a forthcoming reunion of the Moten family is of interest to Kansas City jazz fans. Here are the pages for Bennie and Buster Moten. (Tip via KC Jazz Lark.)
*Downbeat reviewed Bobby Watson's Check Cashing Day.
*A Ted Talk given by Harold O'Neal two months ago is online.
*A preview of a concert featuring Bram Wijnands notes the Dutchman's interesting biography. Chuck Berg reviewed the performance in Topeka.
*Here's another round of 12th Street Jump's "Blues In the News".
*Tweet o' the Week: Brian Scarborough- @theprojecth sounded great tonight out at Take Five. Phenomenal playing and writing. Glad I made it out. #kcjazz
*Comment o' the Week: Anonymous- I wouldn't say nobody wants the AJM, but currently it is less than impressive. I like the Blue Room (part of the AJM) and go once or twice a month. I haven't been in the museum for about three years as there's not much new. I wish the museum would do more special events combining education and performance…
*From Take Five Coffee + Bar: (O)ur December is fierce. Every date but one features an out-of-town artist… We've dubbed it "Homecoming Month". Friday, December 6, 8 pm: Brian Scarborough Quintet- Kansas City native composer and trombonist Brian Scarborough is back home from his studies in Chicago and he's bringing a ferocious quintet to take over Take Five: Jeff Harshbarger on bass, Matt Otto on saxophone, TJ Martley on keys and Brandon Draper on drums. $5 cover. Saturday, December 7, 8 pm: Clint Ashlock with Ben Markley- Denver pianist Ben Markley… will perform Saturday. Coming down from the mountains with Ben that night is saxophonist Josh Quinlan, instructor of Jazz Studies at the University of Colorado. A powerhouse threesome of Kansas City talent will help us welcome the guests from the west - trumpeter Clint Ashlock, drummer John Kizilarmut and bassist Ben Leifer. $5 cover.
*From a press release: Spirituality & All That Jazz. First Wednesday of every month. Unity Temple on the Plaza Tickets at the door only - $7.00. Children under 16 free. Wednesday, December 4, 2013: Magical Musical Moments with vocalist Bukeka Shoals and Tim Whitmer & The Consort Band. Wednesday, February 5, 2014: The incomparable Joe Cartwright, Pianist with Tim Whitmer & The Consort Band.
*From a press release: Kansas City’s newest jazz destination, The Broadway Jazz Club, officially opens its doors to the public on Friday, Dec. 6 with a grand opening celebration from 4 p.m. – 1 a.m. and an encore celebration scheduled Saturday, Dec. 7 from 9 p.m. – 1 a.m. The Broadway Jazz Club is proud to create a destination that is celebrating and reviving Kansas City’s musical roots and rich jazz heritage. The weekend will also introduce the complete menu offerings prepared by The Broadway Jazz Club Chef Richard Martin. Friday, Dec. 6: The Broadway Jazz Club will kick its grand opening into full swing with a full night of live music featuring the Dan Doran Band, a high energy, local KC jump blues and jazz band. A special happy hour with drink specials is planned from 4 – 8 pm. Saturday, Dec. 7: The local jazz celebration continues at The Broadway Jazz Club on Saturday night with the musical talents of local songstress Megan Birdsall from 9pm – 1 am.
*The Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Decades removed from a significant place in the cultural mainstream, an alarming proportion of jazz has grown appallingly obsequious. It's remarkable, consequently, when a prominent jazz artist incorporates explicit social commentary into his or her music.
Check Cashing Day, the latest album by Bobby Watson, is certain to upset some listeners. Watson's political stance, combined with his formidable artistic aptitude, make Check Cashing Day one of the most important jazz albums by a Kansas City-based artist in recent years.
The daring project contains spoken word segments by poet Glenn North that directly address the political undercurrent that's fueled much of Watson's work. In his famous 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. suggested that "we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check." North and Watson take the concept figuratively and literally. "The bill is up to four trillion dollars now and man, it's way past due," North implores. "What do I have to do to get my forty acres and a mule?"
Reparations, ongoing racial disparities and unfulfilled promises are recurring themes. Yet on "Revival (Ovedia)," North implies that spiritual redemption can be found at a jazz club at 18th & Vine. A person who overheard me listening to Check Cashing Day protested that North's contribution to the album is "corny." Heard out of context, the spoken word segments might be off-putting. Within the framework of the entire album, however, North's work is powerful.
Most of the instrumentals are the sort of memorable hard bop compositions that have become Watson's trademark. The opening track "Sweet Dreams," for instance, exemplifies Watson's gift for melody and love of swing. The core "I Have a Dream Project" band- trumpeter Hermon Mehari, pianist Richard Johnson, bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Eric Kennedy- sparkle throughout. "Seekers of the Sun (Son)," a track featuring vocalist Pamela Baskin-Watkins, resembles a vintage Lonnie Liston Smith selection. Horace Washington and Karita Carter also make valuable contributions.
The momentous album may irritate a few of Watson's longtime fans, but the achingly beautiful and momentous Check Cashing Day is an essential addition to Watson's esteemed discography.
(Original bleary image of Bobby Watson by Plastic Sax.)
Friday, November 29, 2013
During the first hour of the 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival on October 12, I asked Gerald Dunn, the American Jazz Museum's Director of Entertainment, for tips on any under-the-radar performances I might otherwise miss. He suggested that I look into a kid by the name of Ernest Melton who was slated to perform with a youth band. Gerald was right. Melton, 17, floored me. Melton's aggressive attack is showcased at the beginning of this new video. Drummer Ryan Lee and keyboardist Eddie Moore sparkle throughout the footage.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
*The Kansas City Star's lengthy examination of the Jazz District's struggles and an in-depth look at the state of the American Jazz Museum were written by Mike Hendricks.
*KC Jazz Lark continues his invaluable "What the Jazz Museum Was Going To Be" series.
*A blogger notes that Chuck Haddix has unearthed two previously undiscovered recordings featuring Charlie Parker. (Tip via Tony's Kansas City.)
*Kin (←→), a new album by the Pat Metheny Unity Group ( Metheny, Chris Potter, Antonio Sanchez, Ben Williams and multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi), will be released by Nonesuch on February 4, 2014.
*The Pitch takes note of the physical release of Bobby Watson's Check Cashing Day.
*The Kansas City Star published a review of the Kenny Barron Trio's concert at the Folly Theater.
*The push behind the construction of a "Jazz Walk of Fame" seems to be gaining momentum.
*The Kansas City Star reports that the new executive director of the Lied Center is the former vice president of concerts and programming at Jazz at the Lincoln Center.
*An amusing moment at the 3:00 mark of a video produced by Pharrell William's "Other" channel- "I've been listening to- what's that show?- "Bird Flight" on the radio early in the morning. It's that radio show all about Charlie Byrd."
*Tweet o' the Week: Heinlein Music- 98.1 going to town on 18th & Vine right now. So far my favorite quote has been, "I've never been there but maybe 20 people have been there."
*Comment o' the Week: Anonymous: I think it's a shame you feel the need separate the local from the touring. Hold everyone to the same standard and stop stacking the deck for local players. Of course if your standard is simply listing as many musicians as you can, by all means keep doing that. Seriously, you mentioned seeing a dinner gig at the Majestic as one of your top shows? Gotta shoe-horn in Mark Lowry I suppose. The fact that you don't include dates is the big give away that you're just listing people. PLBB at the RecordBar? They play every month and their shows vary in quality depending on whose there and what the material was. Truly a facile and completely meaningless list.
*You can talk as much as you like as you're eating a $45 steak.
*From a press release: The University of Kansas School of Music proudly presents the 12th Annual Jazz Vespers concert at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at the Lied Center of Kansas. The concert will feature KU Jazz Ensemble I and Jazz Ensemble II, directed by Dan Gailey, KU director of Jazz Studies; KU Jazz Singers, directed by David von Kampen, D.M.A. student in composition; and KU Combo I, directed by Matt Otto, KU lecturer in Jazz Studies. Also featured will be KU professor of Film and Media Studies Chuck Berg, tenor saxophone; KU professor of saxophone, Vince Gnojek, saxophone; and KU School of Music dean Robert Walzel, clarinet. The program features jazz arrangements of holiday favorites by some of the most celebrated writers in jazz including Duke Ellington, Gil Evans and Ernie Wilkins. The program includes The First Noel; It Came Upon a Midnight Clear; The Little Drummer Boy; It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year; Winter Wonderland; Sugar Rum Cherry; Jingle Bells; and more. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for children, seniors and students. Tickets can be purchased at the Lied Center Ticket Office, by phone at 785-864-2787 or online at www.lied.ku.edu.
*From Take Five Coffee: Friday, November 29, 8 pm: Project H- Friday we host the huge ensemble sound of a septet that features all original compositions and ridiculous talent. Trombonist and composer Ryan Heinlein leads the way, pushing the swings on a jazz playground with his miscreant playmates - Clint Ashlock (trumpet), Dominique Sanders (bass), Andrew Ouellette (keys), Matt Leifer (drums), Jeff Stocks (guitar) and Brett Jackson (sax). It's like the Little Rascals with horns, sort of. $5 cover. Saturday, November 30, 8 pm: Sons of Brasil- Slip a little samba seasoning into your holiday feast! The Sons know how to heat up a cold night - Stan Kessler (trumpet), Danny Embrey (guitar), Greg Whitfield (bass) and Doug Auwarter (drums) are the absolute best around at what they do, and what they do is deliver spell-binding grooves in the Brazilian style $5 cover.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)