Sunday, July 10, 2011
Horace Washington: An Appreciation
Few things are as tedious as nostalgic reveries about the good old days, so I'll get this out of the way quickly. In the '80s, it was not uncommon to find throngs of people- many of them in their twenties- listening to jazz acts including Kevin Mahogany, The City Light Orchestra, Claude "Fiddler" Williams, Priscilla Bowman, Sonny Kenner, B.C.R., Ronnell Bright and The Scamps at any one of over a dozen jazz-oriented nightclubs in Kansas City. Another of the most popular acts at the time was Horace Washington.
Washington specialized in audience-pleasing melodic jazz in the vein of Stanley Turrentine and Grover Washington, Jr. Even though his sound was danceable, it had plenty of substance. I'm not sure why he didn't retain his spot at the top of the local scene, but a lack of an online presence certainly hasn't done him any favors. One of Plastic Sax's 27 readers emailed me last night after he happened across a poorly-attended Washington performance at a new Kansas City establishment. A Google search inspired by Washington's fine playing turned up this new video profile of the musician.
"I think Kansas City jazz has been grossly underrepresented," Washington says in the video. "The true form of Kansas City jazz is dying."
Maybe. Maybe not. But for better or for worse, things ain't what they used to be.