Thursday, April 19, 2018

Now's the Time: Matt Hopper


Matt Hopper is a fixture on Kansas City’s jazz scene.  The guitarist has 12 gigs scheduled during the next 12 days.  He plays “Set Your Fears Aside,” an enchanting selection from his First Love album, in the embedded footage captured at Green Lady Lounge in 2015.  The comprehensive Kansas City Jazz Calendar lists hundreds of additional spring performances.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes















*Pat Metheny was featured by the National Endowment of the Arts in a video in advance of his induction as an NEA Jazz Master.  His remarkable acceptance speech is at the 52:00 minute mark of the 2018 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert.

*Joe Klopus examines the lineup of the SFJazz Collective in a concert preview for The Kansas City Star.

*Kansas City Mayor Sly James commented on the proposed temporary closure of the American Jazz Museum.

*“Bando”, a track by the Kansas City group We the People, is now available.

*Kamasi Washington will perform at The Truman on October 29.

*Jeneé Osterheldt chimed in on the woes of the American Jazz Museum.

*Nathan Davis, a saxophonist born in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1937, has died.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Tim Burnell- The American Jazz Museum is not a "black" museum.  It is an AWESOME museum.

*Comment o’ the Week: MP- There were a few that weren’t on the album. I saw one of my old friend’s mother at the concert. I might ask her if she remembers. Either way, that was a fun concert. First one of ever been to in my 15 years of concerts at the Gem that I can recall not having an intermission. And they really didn’t need one

*From a press release: The American Jazz Museum and the Mutual Musicians Foundation are teaming up to present activities in honor of International Jazz Day… Swing, Bebop and Beyond celebrates the music and culture of Kansas City Jazz through performances, lectures, film screening, exhibitions, and walking tours… Schedule of Events for International Jazz Day April 30, 2018: Blue Room: 11:00 am – 1:00 pm Jazz Brunch featuring Charles Williams, $5 at the door;  11:30 am – 5:30 pm Walking Tours; Mutual Musicians Foundation: 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm Jazz Hop featuring Tyree Johnson; Blue Room: 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Jazz Fusion featuring Brad Williams; Mutual Musicians Foundation: 4:15 pm – 4:45 pm The History of the Mutual Musicians Foundation; Mutual Musicians Foundation: 5:00 pm - 5:45 pm Bebop featuring Ernest Melton; Gem Theater: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Swing featuring Denyse Walcott accompanied by dancers from Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey; Blue Room: 7:00 pm - until 11:00 pm Jam Session featuring Christian Swan; Gem Theater: 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm  The Last of the Blue Devils film documentary; Mutual Musicians Foundation: 10:30 pm - 11:30 pm Latin Jazz featuring Pablo Sanhueza and the KC Latin Jazz All Stars; Mutual Musicians Foundation 11:30 pm – Until the sun comes up Late Jam Session featuring James Hathaway.

*From Chris Burnett: Italian jazz piano maestro Dino Massa will return to Kansas City in the Spring of 2019 to perform and record with Dino Massa Kansas City Quintet. This is the USA-based modern jazz ensemble Massa co-leads with the Kansas City-based alto saxophonist, Christopher Burnett.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Concert Review: Bill Frisell, Thomas Morgan and Rudy Royston at the 1900 Building













Trouble with a bass amplifier interrupted an otherwise flawless performance by Bill Frisell, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Rudy Royston at the 1900 Building on Sunday, April 8.  Frisell, one of the most consequential guitarists in jazz history, was sanguine about the pause 30 minutes into his trio’s 90-minute outing.

“That was like a blessing in disguise,” he said.  “It gave us all a chance to process all the heady shit we played.”

He was right.  A rapt audience of about 150 had already experienced a dizzying opening salvo highlighted by a deconstruction of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and a masterful demonstration of looping effects.

With the technical difficulties resolved, the trio dazzled on selections including a gonzo reading of Thelonious Monk’s “Epistrophy,” a straightforward take on the James Bond theme “Goldfinger” and a tender interpretation of Burt Bacharach’s “What the World Needs Now Is Love.”  The outing was the most engaging of Frisell’s several area appearances in recent years.

Frisell’s eyes appeared to water as he acknowledged the presence of Jerry Hahn.  He said that while it’s common knowledge that Jim Hall and Jimi Hendrix are among his primary influences, he “stole really a lot from” the seminal guitarist with the same initials.  Even members of the audience who weren’t familiar with Hahn gratefully applauded him for the role he played in inspiring Frisell’s magnificent talent.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Now's the Time: Hypnotic Brass Ensemble


The Kansas City City Orchestra will perform at Enercity Swinging Hannover in Germany on May 9.  Admission is free at the open-air festival, but locals traveling overseas with the band can buy $20 tickets to preview the event’s headliner at the Lied Center on Tuesday, April 17.  The seven members of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble busked in their hometown of Chicago before relocating to New York.  Countless additional area gigs are listed at the Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes














*The Kansas City Star and KCUR report on a critical analysis of the American Jazz Museum that suggests the institution should be temporarily shuttered and that its leadership structure must be dramatically revamped.  Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner spoke to The Star about the study.  The Star’s editorial board assesses the situation.

*Hermon Mehari is the subject of an extensive profile by Natalie Gallagher for The Pitch.  He also led a quartet in a 25-minute Star Session set for The Kansas City Star.

*Clint Ashlock and Jeff Shirley were interviewed by Joe Dimino.  Shirley was also featured by Debbie Burke.

*Anat Cohen’s appearance with the KU Jazz Ensemble 1 was reviewed by Jessie Riggins.

*The Kansas City Star examined a couple key players in a battle for the future of the Jazz District and reported on a controversial piece of legal wrangling.

*Stephen Martin was featured in UMKC’s student newspaper.

*The Project H was named KCUR’s Band of the Week.

*Nate Chinen suggests that Logan Richardson’s Blues People possesses “a feeling of urgent communion.” 

*Tweet o’ the Week: Mike Mahoney- City Councilman Jermaine Reed (and Jazz Museum Board member) says a shutdown of the American Jazz Museum for a reset would be a “nuclear option” that he opposes. #JazzMuseum

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Concert Review: The Anat Cohen Tentet at the Gem Theater















Anat Cohen threw her head back and placed a hand over her heart as trombonist Nick Fitzer took a stirring solo at the Gem Theater on Saturday.  Her ecstatic response was justified.  The transcendent 100-minute set by the Israeli clarinetist and her Tentet seamlessly shifted between jazz, klezmer, psychedelic rock and Brazilian and Malian folk musics.

An audience of more than 200 took in the global sound that was imbued with a mysticism that verged on holiness.  While the repertoire was based on Cohen’s 2017 album Happy Song, the concert was significantly more boisterous than the lively recording.  Specific artists were occasionally evoked- Benny Goodman’s “Oh Baby” was given a wild reading and a couple segments recalled Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland- but the most rapturous portions of the evening combined disparate styles to create entirely new sounds.

Cohen, 38, has been working toward the auspicious synthesis for most of her wide-ranging career.  She surrounded herself with an international cast that included the Albanian cellist Rubin Kodheli, the Israeli bassist Tal Mashiach, the Kansas City trumpeter Hermon Mehari and the Brazilian pianist and accordionist Vitor Gonçalves and on Saturday.  The singular collaborators allowed Cohen to achieve a panoramic sound that avoided the contrived approach of academic exercises and the mushy sentimentality of misguided musical do-gooders.

In achieving profundity free of pretense and by playing clarinet like a
cheerful version of Eric Dolphy, Cohen surpassed the achievements of like-minded predecessors including Gil Evans, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra and Gunther Schuller.

(Original image by Plastic Sax. From left to right: Vitor Gonçalves, Sheryl Bailey, Tal Mashiach, Anat Cohen, Nick Finzer, Hermon Mehari, Rubin Kodheli, Owen Broder, James Shipp and Anthony Pinciotti.)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Now's the Time: Ben Allison & Think Free


Ben Allison & Think Free perform at the 1900 Building on Saturday, April 7.  The bassist’s all-star band includes trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, guitarist Steve Cardenas and drummer Allan Mednard.  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar lists more than two dozen additional gigs on April 7.