Sunday, April 19, 2009

Kansas City Blues

Thirsty for both live music and a cold beverage Saturday afternoon, I intended to hit the jam session at Jardine's.

Alas, it's apparently been suspended.

I attended a blues gig at B.B.'s Lawnside BBQ instead. While I adore both the roadhouse and its owner, Lindsay Shannon, it served as yet another reminder that blues is far more popular than jazz in Kansas City.

Just look at the impressive list of daily events at The Kansas City Blues Society's blues calendar. My own admittedly anemic effort pales in comparison. (Worse still, Plastic Sax's listing is apparently the sole online directory dedicated to jazz.)

Two weeks ago I caught a 29-year-old blues guitarist at a local casino. Over 1,000 fans paid $25 each to see him. Can you imagine a similarly-aged jazz instrumentalist drawing such a large audience in Kansas City?

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)


Duke said...

What? comments on the Mingus concert?

Happy In Bag said...

I didn't go, Duke. All I can find at the moment are Steve Paul's Twitterings from the show. I'll link to any reviews I find in my next post.

Anonymous said...

Blues is more a form of popular music. Music for the lay man. I'm not sure jazz is at the present time. Isn't jazz American Classical music

Anonymous said...

A nice review of the KCJO concert kast week appeared in the Star's online edition.

Happy In Bag said...

Maybe so, Anon 12:56, but the phrase "American Classical music" makes my skin crawl.

Thanks, Anon 1:01. I hadn't seen that. I'll link to it in my next post.

Anonymous said...

Why does it make your skin crawl? The Symphony orchestra plays European Classical music. What would fall into the category of American Classical music?

Happy In Bag said...

Can't jazz stand on its own? Why must it be defined by a comparison to another music? I suspect, Anon, the "American Classical" definition is mostly employed by people seeking donations from wealthy philanthropists.

Anonymous said...

It definitely is employed by people seeking donations. In fact, when talking to funders, people who support the arts and European Classical Music endeavors such as the Harriman Arts Series, Friends of Chamber Music, KC Symphony, Ballet, Opera etc, the way to make the request for support is to use that analogy. "The symphony plays European Classical ...Mozart, Beethoven, Bartok etc. and Jazz groups perform American Classical Music such as Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Wayne Shorter, Bill Evans, Gershwin etc.

When you draw that comparison, people get it. But that is how you raise money to pay the musicians what they are worth. Just because you are a jazz player does not mean you should have to play or rehearse for peanuts. In fact, as a jazz musician myself it is never okay to ask people to play or rehearse for free.

If we want the music to be treated as a serious art form we need to present it as such. For jazz and jazz musicians to survive, it may need to evolve into a concert music where listening is the norm. Where listeners of all ages can attend.

Club audiences are forgiving because they are not listening most of the time and "half in the bag"...juiced. Concert audiences are not.

Don't forget that jazz is also used to define a style of dancing that kids and teenagers study.
Go to and you'll see all of the "jazz,tap,hiphop" schools of dancing in the metro.
We can thank the media for all the ambiguity.

the unthinking lemming said...

The Blues can't even save the Rhythm and Ribs Festival.

To refer to Jazz as America's Classical music does a disservice to such prominent composers as Charles Ives or Aaron Copland. OTOH, it should be pointed out the obvious influence jazz has had on so-called American Classical music as can be demonstrated by Gershwin or even the orchestral efforts of the likes of Basie and Ellington.

Can Jazz exist as a popular music? Not any more. Can it exist as a concert/academic music? Maybe. In the end, what is in a name.

Anonymous said...

Thank you unthinking lemming for letting people know that America has it's own classical composers...Aaron Copeland being one of my favorites. I also am not a fan of jazz being referred to as "America's classical music". That's just not true. People like George Gershwin have helped link the two(and blues)together however by way of his concert works.