Thursday, February 20, 2020

Now's the Time: Stacey Kent


Akin to the cosmopolitan little sister of Diana Krall, Stacey Kent is an impeccably sophisticated crooner.  She began earning rave reviews in the previous century, but Kent's Kansas City debut comes Saturday, February 22, at the Folly Theater.  Better late than never.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The New York Times reports on the odd collision of the Mutual Musicians Foundation’s low-wattage radio station and the Russian propaganda programming broadcast on the same frequency via KCXL.

*The local connections of the jazz-adjacent band the Purna Loka Ensemble are explored by Rick Hellman.

*Steve Kraske interviewed Stacey Kent on KCUR’s Up to DateThe Kansas City Star previewed Kent’s concert at the Folly Theater.

*Charlie Parker’s plastic sax garners a mention in KCUR’s latest arts newsletter.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Johnson County Community College- Featuring some of the most respected local musicians, the Ruel Joyce and Jazz Recital Series kick off on Feb. 17! Happening every Monday and Tuesday at noon, these 1-hour performances are free and open to the public. For more info: (link)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Album Review: Charlie Parker- The Savoy 10-Inch LP Collection

Can Charlie Parker be cool again?  On the centennial of his birth in Kansas City, Kansas, Parker is revered within the secluded jazz community but possesses negligible cachet in popular culture.  An exemplary new box set is a welcome step toward restoring Parker’s legacy as a towering American musical revolutionary no less deserving of widespread idolatry than Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain.

Slated for release by Craft Recordings on February 28, The Savoy 10-Inch LP Collection allows listeners to hear the music in the same format in which most people first experienced it.  The sturdy collection may look strange on the shelves of vinyl obsessives, but the four ten-inch vinyl discs will sound entirely at home on their turntables.

The 28 tracks from 1944 to 1948 represent the first of Parker’s three primary recording periods.  Selections including “Now’s the Time,” “Red Cross” and “Confirmation” are among the most provocative sonic missives of the twentieth century.  Stodgy scholars point out that Parker’s collaborations with the likes of Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach serve as the foundational material of everything to come in jazz, but the box set provides an opportunity to appreciate the innate intensity and inherent insolence embedded in each subversive track with fresh ears.

The music is tastefully remastered, but the 10” format, labels and sleeves of each disc are exact reproductions of the original Savoy issues.  The box includes a 12-page booklet with liner notes by Neil Tesser.  He rightly links Parker’s innovations with the rebellious work of the hip-hop artists of today.  The veneration of Parker within the jazz community is warranted, but treating his innovations as musty museum music is a deluded misinterpretation of his mission.  Still wild, incendiary and vital in 2020, this music is a timeless invitation to anarchy.  Why should jazz nerds have all the fun?

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Now's the Time: Taslimah Bey


The ragtime pianist Taslimah Bey, a veteran of the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Sedalia, will perform at Old Mission United Methodist Church on Friday, February 21.  The concert is presented by KC Ragtime Revelry.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Deborah Brown spoke to Joe Dimino about her upcoming tributes to Dexter Gordon.

*Photographer Diallo French was interviewed by Tim Finn.

*Boney James returns to the Midland theater on September 11.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Pat Metheny- R.I.P. Lyle Mays (1953-2020) It is with great sadness that we have to report the passing of our friend and brother, Lyle Mays (1953-2020). He passed today in Los Angeles after a long battle with a recurring illness, surrounded by loved ones.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Concert Review: Matt Villinger’s All Night Trio at the Blue Room

The frequent appearances of blues, soul, salsa and rock acts at the Blue Room seems inconsistent with the mission of the American Jazz Museum.  While I appreciate each of those forms, I’ve long believed the venue overseen by the institution should stay true to its mandate.

A couple seated near me at the Blue Room on Saturday, February 8, shared that perspective.  They were visibly displeased by Matt Villinger’s All Night Trio.  The plugged-in attack of Villinger (keyboards and vocoder), Peter Schlamb (keyboards and electronics) and Zach Morrow (drums and electronics) bears little resemblance to conventional Kansas City jazz.

Yet the post-Herbie groove-pop of Villinger’s All Night Trio is the sort of consequential music essential to fostering the ongoing viability of jazz.  Rooted in Herbie Hancock’s innovations on Head Hunters and Future Shock, Villinger’s approach compares favorably with the current affiliates of the Brainfeeder collective.

The trio fleshed out the memorable melodies from Villinger’s excellent 2019 album All Day with whimsical improvisations over amplified grooves.  And watching Schlamb produce stupendous bass lines through a keyboard further affirmed my belief that he’s Kansas City’s finest all-around musician.

The vital experience compels me to reconsider my inflexible stance on the Blue Room’s bookings.  The bold performance by Villinger’s innovative trio in the heart of Kansas City’s jazz district points to a bright- and extraordinarily fun- future for jazz.

(Original image of Matt Villinger by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Now's the Time: Sylwester Ostrowski

The Polish saxophonist Sylwester Ostrowski is one of several notable musicians slated to perform at the Ship on Thursday, February 6, in a show titled Searching for Charlie Parker.  The embedded video captures two aspects of Ostrowski’s sound.