Sunday, June 5, 2016
At the break between Roy Ayers’ two sold-out concerts at the 150-capacity Blue Room on Friday, I told Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner that I believed that her primary job as the new Executive Director of the American Jazz Museum was to rebuild the audience for jazz in Kansas City.
I didn’t mention that Plastic Sax has failed in this mission. There are less jazz venues and fewer fans of the music in Kansas City than when Plastic Sax was founded ten years ago.
While cheerleading has never been the guiding principle of Plastic Sax, I once hoped that this site could serve as a helpful entry point for potential supporters of jazz. Instead, Plastic Sax has acted as a reference guide for members the media and as a bulletin board for people who are already inoculated components of the insular scene.
I don’t need to look beyond Friday’s concerts for evidence of the stunning array of locally based talent- Kansas City’s DeAndre Manning, Everett Freeman and Kevin “Church Boy” Johnson sounded as if they’d been playing with Ayers for years- but attendance at most ticketed jazz events is deeply discouraging.
Then again, I’m just a jazz advocate who has never accepted a dime from an outside source on behalf of Plastic Sax. Representatives of the publicly funded American Jazz Museum regularly cite the institution’s extensive outreach initiatives and music programming. Those efforts haven’t resulted in a groundswell of private citizens eager to spend money on tickets to jazz concerts.
Kositany-Buckner was one of the less than 100 people who attended the highly promoted homecoming concert of Logan Richardson, the saxophonist who is one of the most exciting new voices in jazz. She has her work cut out for her. Savvy and charming, Kositany-Buckner might just be the Kansas City jazz catalyst that Plastic Sax never was.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)