Friday, August 29, 2008

The New Red Onion Jazz Babies

The New Red Onion Jazz Babies have been gigging around Kansas City since before a teenage Plastic Sax had even heard of Bix Beiderbecke. This live footage was captured at Jardine's earlier this week. It reminds me that I don't listen to nearly enough Dixieland. What a joyous sound! Download six free MP3s from the band's site, or better still, catch one of their regular performances.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Will Friedwald covered the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in Harlem. Robert Glasper, Vanessa Rubin, Rashied Ali and other performed. Here's a snippet from Randy Weston's set. And a blogger shares some instructive shots.

*An exhibition titled Charlie Parker, From Birth To Death (no web site) opens Friday, August 29, at Penn Valley Community College. A press release promises "rare photographs depicting his musical life mixed with commentary by jazz greats who offer their views about his greatness." Try contacting the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center for more information.

*A jazz musician asked me to look into the jazz bookings at Sullivan's Steakhouse in Leawood. The new restaurant's manager offered the following reply to an email request for a performance calendar: "We should have a schedule to post by mid-September."

*Bar Natasha is closing. Although it was more a cabaret than a jazz venue, a number of jazz musicians frequently found work there.

*"Clubs are closing, musicians are changing their work and the surviving clubs are suspending their vision in lieu of the commercial, easy, and boring.. I feel like something new is on the horizon for this city I'm in..." Megan Birdsall confided in a blog post on August 22.

*Joe Klopus wrote an excellent appreciation of Charles Perkins (no web site). Perkins' sultry saxophone is heard on this video of a Fringe Festival performance. Jazz poet Dan Jaffe is also featured.

*Here's great news for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum: A benefit CD featuring many of hip hop's top stars will be released October 21. Any money raised will be great, but the international awareness it will bring to the 18th & Vine institution will be invaluable.

*I intend to dedicate a full post to it later, but the new Jammin At the Gem season has been formally announced. Check it out here.

*Hey! There's now a web page for the Kansas City Blues & Jazz Juke House! There's nothing there, but it's a start anyway...

*Jazz photography by Bevery Rethkop (no web site) will be displayed at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Prairie Village. Details are on this church bulletin.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Charlie Parker Memorial

I missed you yesterday at the Lincoln Cemetery memorial service for Charlie Parker. I'm not sure why attendance was dramatically lower this year. Don't worry, though- I shot this rough, unedited video for your inspection.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Jazz Disciples

So many outstanding jazz musicians call Kansas City home that a first-rate ensemble like The Jazz Disciples can fail to garner an appropriate level of acclaim. Part of the charm of this rough fan video is the way it starts in the middle of a tune. As always, the group sounds superb.

Reminder: The annual Charlie Parker gravesite celebration takes place Sunday, August 24. Details and directions are here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joe Klopus provides a great piece about New Jazz Order's weekly gig at Harling's. An accompanying video is very worthwhile.

*Miles Bonny is big in France. This interview is proof.

*Karrin Allyson is profiled here.

*I had a good time Sunday at the Pitch's annual music awards. Ida McBeth won in the "Soul/Blues" category. Mark Sutherland's Snuff Jazz took the best "Jazz" award, beating out presumptive favorite Megan Birdsall.

*Here's a video clip of Mark Pender performing last week at Kansas City's Bice Lounge. The footage was shot by Sue Vicory, subject of the previous Plastic Sax post. TV critic Aaron Barnhard chronicles the night.

*Lee Young, brother of Lester and sometime drummer for Count Basie and Charlie Parker, died July 31.

*Lee lives!

(Original image captured at KCI by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Jazz On Film

Per my request, Google bombards me with web postings about Kansas City jazz. For the past couple months, a disproportionate number emanate from Kansas City Jazz and Blues. The site promotes Kansas City Jazz and Blues: Past, Present, and Future, "an important documentary as a keepsake for the heritage of the Kansas City jazz and blues music scene." Filmmaker Sue Vicory seems to be interviewing dozens of area jazz musicians for the project. Here's more footage.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Dimensions of Jay McShann

It's been almost two years since Jay McShann passed. I still mourn the loss.

McShann's music is eternal, of course, but the jazz giant's engaging presence can't be replicated. That's one reason the 1992 footage uploaded to YouTube by KMBC earlier this week is so wonderful.

Here's KMBZ's description of the video: "Jazz legend Jay McShann performs with keyboardist Everett Freeman on the April 14, 1992 edition of "Dimensions". "Dimensions" was a community affairs program that aired on KMBC-TV in the 1980s and 1990s and was hosted by Community Affairs Director Olivia Dorsey."

Freeman is currently a member of The Jazz Disciples.

YouTube offers the video in high definition.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*New construction has begun in the jazz district.

*Bobby Watson is quoted in an interesting story about the dearth of black jazz students.

*Present reviews Killer Strayhorn's debut.

*The Crossroads Music Fest 4 schedule lists several jazz-related performances. It takes place September 6 at assorted Kansas City venues.

*Here's a quick reminder- the annual Charlie Parker "grave site tribute" is August 24. Last year's event was very nice.

*I've updated the Plastic Sax Event Calendar. The focus is largely on appearances by touring artists. But listen up, musicians- I promise to include your gigs if you email me with venues and exact dates. (My head explodes with itineraries like "every third Tuesday at Club X and sometimes odd-numbered Fridays at Club Y"...)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Grading the Folly's New Season

Put yourself in Doug Tatum's shoes.

Among the considerations of the Folly Theater's executive director when scheduling the annual jazz series are pleasing his moneyed patrons, retaining the allegiance of aging core supporters, developing a younger audience and securing artists who can fill seats.

It's an exceedingly challenging proposition. While the end result means that Cecil Taylor isn't coming to Kansas City, Tatum largely succeeded in booking a varied, interesting set of shows for the forthcoming season.

Here's Plastic Sax's initial verdict on each of the seven concerts. I realize it's an insolent and presumptive act, but I assign a grade to each booking.

Dave Brubeck- October 2
The Folly should continue to book the 87-year-old pianist as long as he continues to tour.
Grade: A-

Stefon Harris- November 22
The young vibraphonist is precisely the sort of forward-looking, innovative artist favored by Plastic Sax. Even so, he's not exactly a household name.
Grade: B+

Roberta Gambarini- December 13
This is the Folly's most suspect booking. The vocalist has little name recognition. While her mainstream cabaret style will please the swing era set, her approach is probably too conservative to interest a young audience.
Grade: B-

John Scofield- January 31, 2009
Plastic Sax isn't personally excited about the guitarist's increasingly close relationship with the jam band sound and corresponding audience, but Scofield should attract the next generation of jazz fans.
Grade: A-

Kevin Mahogany's Kansas City Review- February 28, 2009
A slam dunk. Mahogany's homecoming should be triumphant.
Grade: A

Terence Blanchard- April 4, 2009
The two best jazz concerts I've witnessed at the Folly were Tito Puente in the '90s and Roy Hargrove last year. Even though Blanchard is today's equivalent of Quincy Jones, I don't anticipate his measured approach to elicit the same level of excitement.
Grade: B

Esperanza Spalding- May 16, 2009
She's the "it" musician of the moment in the jazz world. If the current buzz behind the young and beautiful artist continues to build, Spalding could be a huge hit by the time May rolls around. On the other hand, her momentum could fizzle out just as easily. The risky booking delights me.
Grade: A+

Overall grade (based soley on who's appearing, instead of on what might have been): A-

All shows are listed at the Plastic Sax Jazz Calendar.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Now's the Time: Greg Patillo

Step back, haters! I love this; I don't care if you think the beatbox flautist is more hip hop than jazz. Greg Patillo is performing in Kansas City this weekend in conjunction with the National Flute Convention. Joe Klopus has the story. I'm going to dust off my Rahsaan Roland Kirk albums.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*There's hope for the shuttered El Torreon. The legendary venue (above), once the regular host of Benny Moten and Jimmie Lunceford, is reportedly being refurbished.

*An essay titled "Is Bird Dead?" merits further discussion.

*Oleta Adams is profiled.

*I'm not sure why, but Karrin Allyson's national New Year's Eve 2006 broadcast was reposted on July 24 here.

*One of Kansas City's best bloggers, the Midtown Miscreant, muses on the significance of the Hotel Rochester at 18th and Vine. It's a mandatory read for anyone interested in the jazz district.


*Joe Klopus raves about the forthcoming concert series at the Gem and the Folly. Plastic Sax will weigh in on the bookings in a future post.

*381 Days: The Montgomery Bus Boycott Story has opened at the American Jazz Museum.

*Chris Burnett analyzes the numbers of jazz.

*A new release by pianist George Dulin receives a rave review. The writer asserts he's from Kansas City.

*Steve Penn applauds the renovation of the Midland Theater.

(Original image of El Torreon by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, August 4, 2008

KC Jazz In SD CA

Do you miss Dick Wright's show on KANU? How about KCUR's beloved Just Jazz? Similar mainstream jazz programming still exists- in San Diego! While vacationing in Southern California last week, I heard Jay McShann, Count Basie, Lester Young and other practitioners of the Kansas City sound on KSDS. According to today's playlist, Illinois Jacquet, Cal Tjader, Mark Murphy and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis have aired in the past hour. The "full-time mainstream/traditional jazz" station streams online. To add insult to injury, San Diego is also home to a smooth jazz station.

(Original image of UCSD's library by Plastic Sax.)