Sunday, October 21, 2018

Concert Review: Erykah Badu at the Sprint Center














Things began to look up when Erykah Badu fell down at the Sprint Center on Friday.  I sensed a glimmer of hope as the headliner continued singing while lying prone on the stage after tripping over the curtain that had been dropped shortly after her performance began at 11:40 p.m.

Up to that moment, my $46.50 ticket- the least expensive seat for the Fountain City Blues & Jazz Festival that was slated to begin at 8 p.m.- had purchased nothing but disappointment.  CeeLo Green’s set was discombobulated.  Goodie Mob was pedestrian, a “comedian” told recycled jokes and an R&B vocalist repeatedly shouted “f--- that n-----.”  The concert's promoter had the gall to announce his candidacy for the City Council of Kansas City in the midst of the mess.  When the restless audience of more than 4,000 took up a chant of “Badu” after 11 p.m., an emcees ridiculed them before snapping “calm down, god damn it.”

Only a miracle could had salvaged the debacle.  And that’s just what occurred.  Badu admitted that “I fell down for real” as stagehands helped her to her feet.  From that moment on, she and her large band were transcendent.

As she conducted the musicians with the severity of Buddy Rich, Badu sounded like Billie Holiday singing over a keyboard-dominated remix of Miles Davis’ 1972 album On the Corner.  Otherworldly versions of hits like “Window Seat,” “Didn’t Cha Know” and “On & On” were less neo-soul than 21st century jazz.  The spell was broken only when when the house lights were abruptly switched on in the middle of a song at 12:37 a.m.

“That was Satan himself” Badu suggested of a rare “bad groove” during her hour-long outing.  Perhaps.  Her appearance at the Sprint Center was a radiant slice of heaven during a night that was otherwise a heaping helping of concert-going hell.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Now's the Time: Erykah Badu at the Sprint Center


As an astute writer suggests in a concert preview for The Kansas City Star, Erykah Badu exemplifies the creative spirit of Billie Holiday.  Badu tops the bill of the Fountain City Blues & Jazz Festival at the Sprint Center on Friday, October 19.  The trumpeter Keyon Harrold is among the jazz-adjacent musicians accompanying Badu in the embedded video.  Dozens of additional weekend gigs are listed at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes













*Hermon Mehari chatted with KCUR’s Chuck Haddix.

*The editorial board of The Kansas City Star suggests that the “status quo at the American Jazz Museum is unacceptable.”

*Seven minutes of footage of last night’s concert by Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom was shared by Steve Paul.

*Mike Corrigan's instrument and instrument repair business is the subject of a two-minute feature created by NBC News.

*John Kizilarmut was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*The season debut of the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra was documented by Joe Dimino.

*Clint Ashlock is quoted in a The New York Times story about the mania surrounding Patrick Mahomes, the young quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs.

*Tweet o’ the Week: SpinningTreeTheatre- Jazz Great Angela Hagenbach Headlines Spinning Tree Sings! Cabaret Fundraiser. Mon Nov 12 @ 7:30pm, Just Off Broadway. Roger Wilder, Piano. Tyrone Clark, Bass. Michael Warren, Drums

(Original image of a men's bathroom in Arrowhead Stadium at Saturday's Ed Sheeran concert by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, October 15, 2018

Concert Review: The Vijay Iyer Sextet at the Gem Theater














At the outset of his performance at the Gem Theater on Sunday, Vijay Iyer told the 75 members of the audience that he had an out-of-body experience at the Mutual Musicians Foundation earlier in the day. For the next 90 minutes, my $20 ticket allowed me to travel over the moon and through the stars via the transporting sound of the all-star sextet led by one of the most decorated artists in jazz.

Initially slated to be held at the 8,000-seat Starlight Theatre as the third and final installment of the Open Spaces festival’s showcase concert series, weather considerations necessitated the change in location for the show’s headlining act. The brisk temperature and unrelenting precipitation were a blessing in disguise. Iyer drew about 250 people to his previous Kansas City appearance at the Folly Theater in 2012. A quintet led by Hermon Mehari opened Sunday’s show.

Profound, revelatory and experimental without ever seeming forced, the playing of keyboardist Iyer, Graham Haynes on flugelhorn and electronics, saxophonists Steve Lehman and Mark Shim, bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Jeremy Dutton evoked the 90-year-old recordings of Louis Armstrong’s band even during the most adventurous explorations. Footage of the year’s most exemplary concert of improvised instrumental music streams here and here.














(Original images by Plastic Sax.)

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.)