Monday, March 31, 2008


No one, Plastic Sax included, enters the jazz realm to become popular. It can be a lonely endeavor.

So I was delighted to arrange a face-to-face meeting at Jardine's with one of this site's most vocal readers. We had a great time. My goal wasn't to neutralize the critic. Rather, I wanted to explain my motivations to him.

I adore Joe Klopus' work for the Star. And the Jazz Ambassadors are an invaluable asset to Kansas City. But neither provides the inclusive, regularly updated, interactive web presence I desired. By default, I founded Plastic Sax. And now that I've fallen into a regular rhythm, the site is relatively easy to maintain.

Yet only a handful of jazz fans, promoters, musicians and institutions regularly reach out to me. Did you swoon at Friday's Rachael Price show? Do you detest Pat Metheny's new album? Did you post a new song at your MySpace page?

It's your turn.

(Image by Plastic Sax. Donna Tucker makes great table tents.)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Heebie Jeebies

I'm alternately delighted and disturbed by this clip from 1932. There's no denying the appeal. It's a beguiling performance showcasing breathtaking family harmonies. Conversely, the exploitive undercurrent can't be ignored.

Is this a well-intentioned tribute to Louis Armstrong, or a cynical commercial ploy? It's probably a little bit of both.

Two of the three Boswell Sisters were born in Kansas City.

(I had planned to feature a video of Rachael Price, who performs tonight at the Folly, but remarkably, nothing adequate is available.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News and Notes

*As a thoughtful correspondent recently noted in Plastic Sax's comment section, this year's Jazz In the Woods lineup is a disappointment for jazz fans.

*A damning editorial in the Call laments the lack of commerce in the Jazz District.

*Pat Metheny was inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame.

*A recent Metheny concert in New York received an enthusiastic review in the New York Times.

*Steve Penn writes about the Coda Jazz Fund's assistance with King Alex's Littlejohn's funeral expenses.

*Kansas City's budget crisis' potential impact on the American Jazz Museum is the subject of a lively online debate.

*Dang! I just discovered that Bobby Watson's new album has been released. I can't wait to pick it up.

*Karrin Allyson's latest release is also available now. Here's an interview with Allyson.

*Kevin Mahogany received a nice show preview in a Minnesota publication. Bebopified also provides a positive summary of the show.

*One of the inspirations for this site, St. Louis Jazz Notes, offered a kind word for Plastic Sax.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Everette DeVan and Millie Edwards

Careful Plastic Sax readers have surmised that I've been out of town. While I continue to dig out, enjoy this video. It's a rare opportunity to see local favorites Everette DeVan and Millie Edwards captured in a first-rate video production. The music begins around the 1:30 mark.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Now's the Time: Deborah Brown

As Joe Klopus noted in yesterday's Star, vocalist Deborah Brown is a bit of a stranger in her hometown. While I'd prefer to feature a video of a rousing live performance, the former Kansas Citian is charming and engaging in this interview with a Croatian man. Much of their discussion revolves around Kansas City. This spotty fan footage reveals that Brown plays big stages in Europe. She performs tonight and Saturday in the much more intimate Blue Room.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News and Notes

*A spokesman quoted in a Star story about the new Power & Light district promises "28 weeks of live jazz." I'll personally vouch for the snazzy appeal of the area surrounding the Live stage.

*A blogger eloquently muses about economic disparity and historical relevance at Charlie Parker's grave.

*Patchchord editorialized about the Plaza III situation, calling it "another nail in the coffin". The ripples initiated by Plastic Sax continue at the Pitch's music blog.

*The Star featured the storytelling program at the American Jazz Museum.

*Here's an update on Megan Birdsall's recovery.

*Joe Klopus interviewed Pat Metheny.

*The playwright of Carter's Way laments the destruction of most Kansas City jazz landmarks. "You couldn't even see the ghosts of things past," he says of a disappointing tour he took in Kansas City.

*A Palm Springs paper previewed a show by Marilyn Maye.

*While I sympathize with the righteous indignation Wichita's smooth jazz advocate feels for the loss of Denver's smooth jazz station, it makes for entertaining reading. By the way, how long has it been since Kansas City lost "The City"? Five years? The Washington Post ran a related story about the decline of the format.

*Clark Terry will be playing with Leon Brady's Kansas City Youth Jazz ensemble in May.

*I really like the Star's story about the hippie past of the Cowtown Ballroom. The story only alludes to the room's crucial role in regional jazz history. Giants like Bennie Moten and Andy Kirk often performed in the room when it first opened.

*A diligent Plastic Sax reader was kind enough to offer an extraordinarily helpful review of last weekend's Metheny family concert here.

*Here's Tim Finn's review of Friday's Michael Buble concert.

*Plastic Sax is embarking on a blogger break. Don't fret- I promise all eleven Plastic Sax readers that I'll return with a vengeance.

(Image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Now's the Time: Pat Metheny

Pat Metheny's trio performs tonight in Lee's Summit. The concert is sold out; the event's principals in the Metheny Music Foundation strongly discourage ticketless fans from showing up. Here's Joe Klopus' preview.

This video features the current lineup. Here are a few things I love about it:

*It's more King Crimson than Wes Montgomery
*Pat seems to be channeling Miles Davis
*Christian McBride's fat bass sound and imaginative supportive playing
*The complete disregard of sartorial matters
*The immaculate drumming of Antonio Sanchez
*The quiet tension of the last two minutes

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News and Notes

*The Metheny Music Foundation asked Plastic Sax to help spread the word that Friday's benefit concert is sold out. They strongly discourage people without tickets from making the drive to Lee's Summit.

*The local jazz rumor mill suggests that the Plaza III is dropping jazz from its live music format. The club features live music only on weekends and it's more of a social atmosphere than a listening room. Even so, it's a tough blow to the jazz community, especially coming on the heels of the loss of the Phoenix in 2007.

*Clint Ashlock blogs about the Plaza III's rumored format change.

*It looks like Kevin Mahogany is involved in at least two intriguing new projects.

(Image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Tim Whitmer: Entertainer of Choice

Is Tim Whitmer the most popular living jazz musician based in Kansas City? In terms of dates played, toes tapped and smiles inspired he wins the prize. He's been a mainstay for decades- he has thousands of gigs under his belt at the City Light, the Phoenix, Jardine's and various houses of worship. His site calls Whitmer "Kansas City's Entertainer of Choice." That's only fair. Whitmer may not be the hippest or edgiest musician in town, but he's clearly the face of Kansas City jazz to thousands of locals.

(Unflattering photo of the handsome pianist by Plastic Sax.)