Thursday, October 11, 2018

Now's the Time: The Vijay Iyer Sextet


The Weekend, the signature event of the Open Spaces festival, consists of three concerts at Starlight Theatre.  Janelle MonĂ¡e and the Roots, the headliners of the first two shows, are depicted on a billboard on the east side of downtown Kansas City.  Vijay Iyer, the brilliant jazz artist who leads a sextet at the venue on Sunday, October 14, isn’t pictured.  Open Spaces provides few details about the pianist’s show, but Iyer’s site informs fans that he’ll be joined by an all-star band.  Graham Haynes will play cornet, flugelhorn and trumpet.  Saxophonists Steve Lehman and Mark Shim, bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Jeremy Dutton round out the lineup.  A complete survey of area jazz performances is available at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Now's the Time: Weekly News & Notes














*Tim Finn reports on Lori Chandler’s new Take Five Music Productions endeavor.

*Calvin Wilson wrote a profile of Doreen Maronde for KC Studio.

*The Marcus Lewis Big Band’s appearance at the Open Spaces festival was documented by David Basse for University News.

*Winners in The Pitch’s annual poll include Green Lady Lounge (Best Blues Venue, Best Jazz Venue and Best Nightclub), Molly Hammer (Best Jazz Artist), A La Mode (Best Jazz Band) and the Kansas City Kansas Street Blues Festival (Best Jazz Event).

*Tweet o’ the Week: Kauffman Center- Don't miss The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra’s season-opener “Autumn In New York” on Oct. 12 at the Kauffman Center. The performance will feature classic charts by Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, and more! Tickets: (link)

*From a press release: New Originals for the Green Lady is the fourth album length release by the Kansas City group OJT (organ jazz trio).  This release features original compositions by Ken Lovern and Brian Baggett and one completely improvised piece titled Back Yard Improv Jam.  New Originals is the follow up album to New Standards for the Green Lady, a 2015 release that gave the group’s unique organ jazz treatment to pop tunes of the last few decades.  OJT now makes a more unique and personal musical statement with a full length album of original music.  Both of these releases feature Ken Lovern on hammond organ, Brian Baggett on guitar, and Kevin Frazee on drums… New Originals will be available on November 7, 2018 in collectible green vinyl, traditional black vinyl, CD, and downloads… OJT plays at Green Lady Lounge every Wednesday and Saturday, so if you are in Kansas City there are plenty of chances to catch the group.

*From a press release: The Carlsen Center at Johnson County Community College presents its ninth year of Winterlude, spotlighting jazz in full-length evening performances. The 2018-2019 season kicks off with Marilyn Maye, “90 at Last,” featuring the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra on Sunday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. in Yardley Hall… Local groups playing in the Winterlude series include: Angela Hagenbach Quintet: Dec. 2; Eddie Moore and Pamela Baskin-Watson: Jan. 20; Hot Club KC: Feb. 24; Cubanisms: March 17. These performances will take place at 7 p.m. in the Carlsen Center Polsky Theatre.

(Original image from a festival in Kentucky by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Concert Review: Ramsey Lewis and Urban Knights at the Folly Theater













Ramsey Lewis and Urban Knights got off to a rough start at the Folly Theater on Thursday, September 27.  Guitarist Henry Johnson, keyboardist Tim Gant, bassist Joshua Ramos and drummer Charles Heath stubbornly laid down an unrelenting funk groove as Lewis attempted to play a delicate improvisation on acoustic piano in an awkward interpretation of “Tequila Mockingbird.”  I feared that I’d spent $20 to watch an evening of musicians working at cross-purposes.

Even though the soul-jazz giant, 83, and his bandmates eventually found common ground in their 90-minute performance, Lewis’ unaccompanied playing on versions of John Coltrane’s “Dear Lord” and the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” provided the show’s most memorable moments.  Lewis’ unaccompanied excursions indicated that while his body may move slowly, his mind is as facile as ever.

After encouraging the audience of about 600 to clap along during the encore, Lewis jokingly snarled when they persisted.  His physical comedy was mirrored by the Urban Knights.  Each man elicited laughter at least once with amusing musical gags.  I’ve seen Lewis perform several times in recent years, but his usual closing flurry of the hits “Sun Goddess,” “Wade in the Water” and “The ‘In’ Crowd” never fails to give me goosebumps.  If Lewis returns to Kansas City in 2019, I’ll be there to greet him.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Now's the Time: John Petrucelli


John Petrucelli likens his sound to current jazz heavyweights like Donny McCaslin.  The lofty comparison isn’t unwarranted.  Petrucelli, the Director of Jazz at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma, demonstrates his brawny sound and big imagination on his new album Presence.  He’ll lead a band in the Orion Room at the Green Lady Lounge on Monday, October 8, and next door at Black Dolphin on Tuesday, October 9.  The saxophonist’s gigs are among the listings at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes













*Lonnie McFadden’s Live at Green Lady Lounge was enthusiastically reviewed by Jazz Weekly.

*Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom will perform at Musical Theater Heritage on Tuesday, October 16.

*Kait Dunton, the former keyboardist for Snarky Puppy, will lead a trio at Black Dolphin on Thursday, Nov. 15.

*Joe Dimino shares glimpses of Stephen Martin’s recent performance at RecordBar.  He also chatted with Molly Hammer.

*The 56-page program for the 2018-19 season of the Folly Theater Jazz Series lists the lineups for the forthcoming concerts.  I’m republishing them as a public service.  Larry Carlton Quintet, October 12: Larry Carlton, guitar; Gary Novak, drums; Travis Carlton, bass; Bob Reynolds, saxophone; Mark Stevens, keyboard; The Yellowjackets, January 18: Russell Ferrante, piano; Will Kennedy, drums; Dane Alderson, bass; Bob Mintzer, tenor saxophone; Kandace Springs, February 15: Kandace Springs, keyboard/vocals; Chris Gaskell, bass; Connor Parks, drums; Kurt Elling Quintet, March 9: Kurt Elling, vocals; Stu Mindeman, piano; Clark Sommers, bass; Adonis Rose, drums; Joshua Redman Quartet, April 11: Joshua Redman, saxophone; Aaron Goldberg, piano; Reuben Rogers, bass; Gregory Hutchinson, drums; Arturo Sandoval, April 27: Arturo Sandoval, trumpet; John Belzaguy, bass; Tiki Pasillas, percussion; Michael Tucker, saxophone.

*A blogger documented an area performance by Lonnie Holley and Nelson Patton.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Gravy Jones- Jazz in the restroom at the Kansas City zoo is just perfect.

*Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated with October’s gigs.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Concert Review: Mezzo String at Polsky Theatre














Ryan Lee conducted a disheartening exercise at Mezzo String’s free noontime concert at Polsky Theatre on Tuesday, September 25.  Only a few hands went up when the bandleader asked which members of the audience of almost 100 were younger than 30.  A few more responded when asked if they were younger than 40.  About a dozen additional people acknowledged that they were in their forties.  Even though it’s held on the campus of Johnson County Community College, the Jazz Series attracts retirees rather than students.

And truth be told, Mezzo String’s highly refined chamber jazz is more likely to appeal to people with naturally gray hair than to students who opt to dye their hair purple.  Lee, one of Kansas City’s most dynamic drummers, seamlessly meshes jazz musicians and a string quartet in Mezzo String.  While he and his bandmates are young, their cultivated sound never threatened to unsettle even the most conservative old-timers in the audience.  Every one of the old folks was probably already familiar with the melodies on interpretations of “Lush Life” and “My One and Only Love.”  A reading of the former standard served as a vehicle for trumpeter Nate Nall, while the later selection was played by the ensemble’s string quartet and bassist Ben Leifer.

The tone of two or three original compositions matched the genteel sensibility.  Lee insisted that the three soloists “go wild” on an interpretation of Joe Locke’s “Her Sanctuary.”  The mandate pushed the straight-laced pianist Roger Wilder out of his comfort zone to excellent effect and allowed Nall and violinist Coleen Dieker to do what comes naturally to them.  Lee noted that he’d heard and participated in “a lot of great concerts” at Polsky Theatre.  He can add last week’s distinguished show to that list.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Now's the Time: Lonnie Holley


Lonnie Holley isn’t necessarily a jazz artist, but his new album Mith features contributions from the jazz-adjacent ensemble Nelson Patton and is imbued with an improvisatory spirit.  The celebrated eccentric who received a positive notice at Pitchfork today performs in Swope Park at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, September 29, as part of Open Spaces.  The free show is one of more than 30 of the day’s gigs listed at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.