Monday, February 24, 2014
I spotted a lone tuba amid the hundreds of fiddles, banjos and guitars I saw on stages and in the hallways at the Folk Alliance Conference at the Westin Crown Center on Saturday. Brass instruments were a rarity at the four-day event that attracted a reported 3,000 people to Kansas City.
With 11 official stages and countless spontaneous jam sessions, the absence of a designated jazz-themed forum was disheartening. The addition of the music associated with Kansas City would have been a nice component of what seemed to be an entirely successful event.
The proposal isn't all that strange. Locally-based jazz musician Matt Otto refers to his music as "folk-jazz". And Béla Fleck is just one of thousands of jazz-minded musicians who have emerged from the world of progressive bluegrass. Beau Bledsoe of Alaturka gets it. I saw him taking in a performance by the Turkish-born oud master Ismail Hakki Fencioglu at the expansive festival.
Kansas City will host the conference for the next few years. I fully expect enterprising jazz musicians and promoters to explore the possibilities of an artistically fruitful association with the locally-based Folk Alliance.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)