Sunday, June 25, 2017


I met a fellow music obsessive at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival last month.  After he raved about a stellar performance by the drummer Brian Blade, the man from Springfield, Missouri, told me about his infatuation with the Green Lady Lounge.  Although he’d long loved the sound of the instrument, he’d never actually seen a Hammond organ played until he visited the dimly-lit jazz venue at 1809 Grand Boulevard.  Even though I’m not a huge fan of organ jazz- the style that dominates the schedule of the venue’s primary stage- the enthusiasm of my new friend served as another reminder not to take the Green Lady Lounge for granted.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Now's the Time: Joe Jackson

The unexpected musical detours taken by the British pop star Joe Jackson introduced millions of people to the music of Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington and Louis Jordan.  The enthusiastic jazz, swing and jump-blues aficionado performs at the Uptown Theater on Friday, June 23.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Kansas City’s Oleta Adams discussed her new album Third Set with KCUR.

*The members of the Ensemble of Irreproducible Outcomes were
interviewed by a representative of the Johnson County Library.

*The Guardian reviewed the London production of the opera “Charlie Parker’s Yardbird.”

*Tweet o’ the Week: KC Jazz Orchestra- Join KCJO for a USO Style Dance @UnionStationKC Friday, July 7, 2017, 8 - 10 pm. $15 in advance / $20 at the door. (link)

*Comment o’ the Week: Carol Murray- I had out of town guests last weekend who said they would definitely pay a subscription fee to be able to see my daughter's performances in KC. They are 4 hours away and want to stay up on what she's doing. So would her uncles who are out of state. When I record with Facebook live many people from Hays (where she grew up) join in. Finally, people who are in poor health and house-bound would feel connected and could support their favorite musicians during times when they can't be there in person. I think this has the potential to be a great thing. I would expect the quality of the sound and video to be better than my grainy Facebook live videos. It's the quality and convenience you pay for. - Carol Murray

*From a press release: KC Jazz Alive is proud to announce the 4th Annual Charlie Parker Celebration, to be conducted,  Aug. 17-26. This year’s event again explores and recognizes the legacy of Charlie Parker- a Kansas City native and arguably the most influential saxophonist and jazz icon to ever perform. In addition to the Parker tribute, the event serves as an opportunity to promote the musicianship of local Kansas City jazz artists as they perform alongside award-winning Artists-in-Residence Tivon Pennicott (tenor saxophone) and Sullivan Fortner (piano). The CPC is the only jazz event of its kind that pairs KC jazz musicians with internationally renowned jazz musicians from across the country. The celebration harkens back to jazz’s truest tradition of collaboration, which Charlie Parker fostered during his career. As CPC continues to grow locally and gain recognition through the U.S., this year's event will provide a New York City focus. For nine days, the Kansas City musicians and the Artists-in-Residence will further the dialog about Kansas City and Charlie Parker’s indelible impression on jazz with a variety of concerts and educational programming (schedule to be announced in the next two weeks). KC Jazz Alive again has partnered with several Kansas City jazz clubs and leading jazz promotional organizations to enhance jazz in Kansas City, while sustaining a connection to the jazz world and honoring Parker's legacy. This year’s event is again open to the public. Tickets will range from free to modestly priced.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Album Review: Gerald Spaits- Solo Bass

Jokes are often little more than exaggerations of the truth.  The old saw about bass solos acting as excuses to talk is funny because it’s enacted at jazz performances every night.  Gerald Spaits’ 2016 release Solo Bass is a stupendous demonstration of what gabby people are missing.  The sublime artistry the Kansas City bassist exhibits on the 18-minute set shows why he’s a first-call musician for notables including Karrin Allyson and Marilyn Maye.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Now's the Time: François Rabbath

François Rabbath makes an annual trek to Kansas City to participate in the KC Bass Workshop.  The tone of the corresponding showcases by the French theoretician, 86, is conveyed by the embedded video.  This year’s concert will be held at Grace and Holy Trinity Church on Saturday, June 17.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Pat Metheny has been named a NEA Jazz Master.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Michael Shults- Thanks David and Dee! Always a pleasure to hang and play at @GreenLadyLounge . @smartinjazz is pushing boundaries in Kansas City jazz.

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- Jazz has a legacy and tradition . It is important for musicians to both be curators and innovators. This music does neither. No opinion on whether it is pleasant entertainment. It is not JAZZ, thus your comparison to jazz is entirely misinformed

*From Kansas City Jazz Alive: Sullivan Fortner is already making a significant impact on the jazz world, even at his young age!  The Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz of the American Pianist Association is joining us in Kansas City to celebrate our native legend, Charlie "Yardbird" Parker.  August 17 - August 26, 2017, the New Orleans native will be performing at venues around Kansas City with local musicians and with a second Artist in Residence!.

(Original image of Max Groove performing at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Gently Down the Stream

As I sat behind a camera that was transmitting a live internet broadcast of a performance by the Chris Burnett Quintet at Westport CoffeeHouse last week, I contemplated the validity of the bandleader’s assertion that “this technology will create more performance opportunities for artists in an age where live venues and clubs are not capable of booking all of the artists on the scene today.”

The impulse is commendable.  Given the scarcity of jazz venues and the ostensible tyranny of the owners of some establishments, many musicians are undoubtedly eager to circumvent the existing gatekeepers.  Even so, I wondered if Burnett was delusional for requesting that online viewers pay for the privilege of joining the 18 flesh-and-blood members of the audience in the room during the 30 minutes I spent taking in the first set.  He was competing with a vast universe of free live video content, including feeds on the behemoths Facebook Livestream and YouTube’s Live channel.  Remarkably, Burnett reports that 11 people forked over money to watch the concert online.

I hope Burnett continues the initiative.  For the purposes of Plastic Sax, however, I’m more desirous of shareable footage.  The shortage of well-lit, high-quality performance videos of representatives of Kansas City’s jazz community occasionally results in dubious weekly Now’s the Time posts that inspire derisive commentary from Plastic Sax readers.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Now's the Time: No BS! Brass Band

Tired of lethargic performances by sullen jazz musicians?  No BS! Brass Band will set things right.  The exuberant collective from Virginia entertains on Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17, at the Boulevardia festival near Kemper Arena.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The 2017-18 season of the Folly Jazz Series has been announced.  The lineup: Lee Ritenour (October 28), Spanish Harlem Orchestra (December 9), Marcus Roberts Trio (January 19), Cyrille Aimee (February 17), Hot Sardines (March 9) and SFJazz Collective (April 27).

*The Green Lady Lounge will host an album release show for Steve Lambert’s new album Seven Stories on Sunday, June 25.  The saxophonist’s recording features contributions from vibraphonist Peter Schlamb, pianist Andrew Ouellette, bassists Ben Leifer and Dominique Sanders and drummer Brad Williams.

*The Passion of Charlie Parker, a concept album featuring contributions from the likes of Gregory Porter, Donny McCaslin and Kurt Elling, will be released on June 16.

*Jazz in the Woods is highlighted by Joe Klopus in a roundup of the week’s jazz calendar.

*KCUR aired a story about a jazz-themed art collection on display at the Garrison School Cultural Center in Liberty.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Sammy- would like for a kind gentleman to take me to the green lady lounge

*Comment o’ the Week: Michael- I always love it when you write about the music vs. the size of the audience :) I share your sentiments about Hermon and Peter, and have to add that Ryan Lee is absolutely smashing on this record!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Album Review: Hermon Mehari- Bleu

What’s the definitive sound of Kansas City in 2017?  Obvious candidates include the chiming of streetcars, Tech N9ne’s speed-raps, Bobby Watson’s soulful saxophone solos and the ecstatic roar of 17,000 people cheering for Garth Brooks at the Sprint Center.  The artistically fruitful collaboration between Hermon Mehari and Peter Schlamb is the sound that best exemplifies the town to me.

The trumpeter- the most prominent young jazz musician Kansas City has produced this millennium aside from the saxophonist Logan Richardson- and the vibraphonist Schlamb have been refining their distinctive approach for several years.  The strongest tracks on Mehari’s debut solo album Bleu are extensions of the sound documented on Schlamb’s stunning 2014 album Tinks.

“Tatras,” “Moment’s Notice” and “We Love” encapsulate the vital artistry of the adventurous duo.  The selections’ scattering rhythms and meticulously distorted sounds capture the sense of youthful exuberance that makes their performances highlights of the Kansas City jazz calendar.

Elsewhere, Mehari evokes the tender side of Freddie Hubbard on “Sunset Park” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.”  The au courant “Awakening,” a Mehari composition that showcases Richardson, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Rick Rosato and drummer Ryan Lee, possesses the immediate presence of a Jon Brion production. The band demonstrates its affinity for mainstream jazz on “Our Journey Revisited.”  “Cold” is a neo-soul jam.  While impressive, Bleu’s variety works better as a head-turning resume then as a cohesive artistic statement.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Now's the Time: Doc Severinsen

During his 30-year tenure as the bandleader of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” Doc Severinsen may have done more to elevate the profile of jazz than anyone else.  The 89-year-old trumpeter performs with the Kansas City Symphony at Helzberg Hall on Thursday, June 8.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*CJ Janovy surveys the ongoing turmoil at the Mutual Musicians Foundation.

*The Kansas City Star reviewed the first and second days of the three-day Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival.

*Logan Richardson’s set at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival was lauded by CJ Janovy.

*A television station broadcast a report from the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival.

*Krystle Warren was interviewed by NPR’s Audie Cornish.  Warren also shared a track from her forthcoming album Three the Hard Way.

*Joe Klopus reports that Ramsey Lewis will return to the Gem Theater on Saturday, June 3.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Melvin L. Butler- Had a blast performing tonight in my hometown w/ @MahogonyKevin at #KCJazzFest. Look forward to tomorrow's gig w/@BrianBlade Fellowship Band

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, May 29, 2017


Before I assume the role of an imperious Monday morning quarterback, it’s imperative that I explicitly state that I loved the first edition of the American Jazz Museum’s Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Hearing longtime personal favorites Chick Corea, Lalah Hathaway and John Scofield perform consecutive sets on the attractive main grounds of the festival on Friday was a dream come true. Greg Tardy’s intrepid trio thrilled me on Saturday. The Brian Blade Fellowship closed the festival on Sunday with exquisite chamber jazz. Speaking of drummers, providing the opportunity to hear rhythmic geniuses including Blade, Jaimeo Brown, Marcus Gilmore, Victor Lewis and Bill Stewart reflects the festival’s commendable artistic ambition.

I’d gladly buy a $150 pass to a comparable Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival in 2018. And yet…

I’m deeply troubled by the miserable attendance at the jazz portion of the festival. The R&B/pop artists Hathaway, Brandy, Will Downing and Oleta Adams drew nice crowds, but it took just a few seconds to conduct thorough head counts at the jazz showcases. Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner, the executive director of the American Jazz Museum, insists that Kansas City is a jazz town. It may have sounded like one over the weekend, but it sure didn’t look like it.

I deserted an audience of about 200 at a performance by Sunday’s jazz headliner Regina Carter (photo above), to join a reported 50,000 people to hear Patti Austin sing with the Kansas City Symphony at the nearby Celebration at the Station concert (photo below).

What explains the staggering contrast? Money, of course, has a lot to do with it. Celebration at the Station is free. Tickets for the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival were $25 for entry to the main stage per day or $50 for access to all five stages per day. Given that the over/under on the number of people in Kansas City willing to pay $25 or more to attend a concert by a small acoustic jazz band is 1,000, jazz is a tough sell in this town.

There are three large-scale jazz festivals with free attendance in the Midwest- the Chicago Jazz Festival (2017 performers include Jon Faddis, Roscoe Mitchell and Lonnie Smith), the Detroit Jazz Festival (2017 performers include Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Bennie Golson) and the Iowa City Jazz Festival (2017 performers include the Cookers, Donny McCaslin and Stacey Kent). A free event in Kansas City may be a preferable model to develop interest in the form and to avoid painfully awkward crowd sizes.

And what about R&B? I’m all for it. Kansas City would clearly support a spinoff of the Essence Festival. The American Jazz Museum’s impressive efforts at the inaugural Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival indicate that the institution may be capable of overseeing that event as well.

(Original images by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Now's the Time: Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band

The drummer Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band perform at the Gem Theater on Sunday, May 28, as part of the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival.  Known by pop fans for his work with artists like Norah Jones and Sarah McLachlan, Blade is also a member of Wayne Shorter’s longstanding group.  The Fellowship Band demonstrate their exquisite approach in the embedded video.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Initial detals about the 2017 edition of the Charlie Parker Celebration are here.

*KC Metropolis offers reviews of recent concerts by Joey Alexander and Eliane Elias.

*Ibérica, the new collaboration between Matt Otto and Ensemble Ibérica, was reviewed by Jazz Weekly.

*George Benson was interviewed by Tim Finn about his concert at Muriel Kauffman Theatre.

*John Scofield chatted with KCUR's Steve Kraske in advance of his performance at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival.

*Joe Dimino’s recent interview subjects include Gerald Clayton and Tim Warfield.

*Tweet o’ the Week: KC Jazz Festival- Friday! The day we bring a huge jazz festival back to 18th & Vine!

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- Nothing wrong with some Norman Brown, but dude... give me Wes anytime!

*From a press release: The Westport Coffeehouse Theater will be the venue location for a live concert performance by the Christopher Burnett Quartet with special guest, Michael Jefry Stevens at 7 p.m. - 9:30 p.m., June 6.  Tickets are $10 at the door for local audiences and $5 to watch the live webcast online from anywhere around the world. The live webcast of the concert will begin at 7 p.m. using the Concert Window platform…

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Album Review: Norman Brown- Let It Go

I was temporarily dumbfounded when Steve Kraske hit me with an unexpected on-air question while I was highlighting Julian Vaughn’s new single on KCUR last week: “Do you like smooth jazz?”

Well, do I?

The brevity of the segment didn’t allow me to tell Kraske that repeated spins of Norman Brown’s new album Let It Go soothed my frayed nerves a few days earlier.  The Kansas City native’s pleasing guitar work on “It Keeps Coming Back” and his sultry duet with the R&B thrush Chanté Moore on “Holding You” acted as enchanting sedatives.

So yeah, smooth jazz definitely has a place in my life.

In response to Kraske’s query, I mumbled something about my occasional appreciation of music that makes no demands on the listener.  I also suggested that smooth jazz was “the people’s music,” awkward code for “more popular than mainstream jazz in the black community.”  To be sure, much of Let It Go sounds more like the output of the neo-soul star Jill Scott than the late jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery.  And that’s precisely why I embrace it.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Now's the Time: Joey Alexander

Kamasi Washington aside, Joey Alexander, 13, has received more mainstream media attention during the past two years than any other jazz instrumentalist.  The Bali native will make his Kansas City area debut at Yardley Hall on Saturday, May 20.  Alexander was accompanied by bassist Dan Chmielinski and drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. at a recent concert.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Concerts by Joey Alexander and Eliane Elias capture the attention of Joe Klopus in his latest column for The Kansas City Star.

*Eddie Moore appeared in a promotional television appearance for the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival.

*The author of this site will preview Julian Vaughn's forthcoming concert at the Gem Theater on KCUR at 11:55 a.m. Wednesday, May 17.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Jazz in the Woods- NEW this year - Introducing the BEER Garden! (Must be 21 to enjoy the beverage). Sample up to five beers for $5.00. #JazzInTheWoods

*Comment o’ the Week: Jeremy- Have you stopped doing your Events Calendar? Or did you move it to a new address? I'm sure that it was a lot of work to put that together each month, but you should know that it was appreciated.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Album Review: Bobby Watson- Made in America

The release of a new Bobby Watson album should trigger a civic holiday in Kansas City.  Yet aside from the spring in the steps of the jazz master’s most fervent admirers, April 21 was like any other day in Watson’s hometown.  The three weeks-old  Made in America documents the jubilant swing that (the rapper Tech N9ne’s output aside) is the sound of the town.

Watson’s influence on Kansas City’s music scene is immense.  The acclaim he received following his induction into Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1977 signaled a restoration of Kansas City’s ability to produce top-tier talent.  His more recent work as the director of jazz studies at UMKC has further invigorated the region’s cultural landscape.  Watson is directly responsible for the presence of young luminaries including Hermon Mehari and Eddie Moore.

Made in America, Watson’s first conventional small-group album since 2009’s Everlasting, documents the sort of sprightly melodies, genial interplay and robust sax work that he’s showcased at many of his area performances the past few years.

Each piece is inspired by an iconic black American.  The power of the compositions is correspondingly vital.  Watson, bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Lewis Nash swing with panache.  The work of pianist Stephen Scott provides the project’s most rewarding surprises.  Off the radar for years, Scott adds a lustrous sheen to the wondrously vital Made in America.

(Original album by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Now's the Time: Gerald Clayton

Gerald Clayton returns to the Blue Room on Saturday, May 13. Leading his trio, the estimable New York based pianist is likely to focus on material from his new album Tributary Tales.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

* Hermon Mehari is the subject of feature story in the latest issue of Downbeat magazine.

*Joe Klopus highlights Changing the Tune: The Kansas City Women’s Jazz Festival, 1978-1985 in his weekly column.  A Seattle radio station published a review of the new book.

*Eddie Moore was interviewed by a reporter for UMKC’s student newspaper.

*A pair of new tracks by Arnold Young are available at Bandcamp.

*Jim Mair was honored with a 2017 UMKC Alumni Award.

*The Brian Blade Fellowship has been added to the lineup of the Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival.

*Jack DeJohnette, John Scofield, John Medeski and Larry Grenadier will perform material from their new album Hudson at Yardley Hall on October 15.

*Tim Finn examined Sean Mawhirter’s journey from jazz to tango.

*Chelsea Emuakhagbon reviewed UMKC Jazz Night.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Eddie Moore- Lawd some of the most beautiful black women are in Brooklyn!

*From a press release: The KU Jazz Studies Program and its students were awarded top honors in the 40th Annual DownBeat Student Music Awards. The KU Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Dan Gailey, was recognized with the Graduate College Outstanding Performances honor in the category for large jazz ensembles. DownBeat also recognized the work of Brock Chart, a music composition graduate student from Salina. For his composition “Down to the Wire,” Chart was awarded the Graduate College Outstanding Compositions honor in the category for original compositions for large ensembles… Under Gailey’s leadership, the KU Jazz Studies Program has received 25 DownBeat Student Music Awards since 1992.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Album Review: Matt Otto with Ensemble Ibérica- Ibérica

Ibérica, the new album by Matt Otto and Ensemble Ibérica, is so rapturously beautiful that sensitive listeners might be inclined to savor it only on special occasions.  The sublime recording would provide ideal accompaniment to the celebration of an anniversary or the homecoming of a newborn baby.

Limiting play of Iberica to extraordinary life moments would be a shame. Even though it might seem like an extravagant misappropriation of delicate artistry, Ibérica is capable of enlivening and elevating even the most mundane activities.  Otto, one of Kansas City’s most accomplished jazz musicians, and Beau Bledsoe the leader of the Latin-themed chamber group Ensemble Ibérica and the Turkish jazz band Alaturka, are proven creators of transcendent music.

Unlike many so-called third stream albums that seem stuffy or precious, Iberica is a consistently soothing aural balm that is nonetheless imbued with a sad awareness of the bittersweet truths of life.  Iberica echoes the most abstract works of the late jazz masters Jim Hall and Paul Desmond, but a handful of notable Kansas City musicians give the project a local flavor.

Brad Cox contributes keyboards and electronic effects.  Bledsoe, Michael McClintock and Jordan Shipley add a tasteful array of stringed instruments including guitars, oud and cavaquinho.  Cello and gently swinging bass are played by Karl McComas-Reichl.  The ethereal steel guitar work of Mike Stover adds earthy textures to the beguiling album.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Now's the Time: Kurt Elling and Branford Marsalis

Two of the most prominent figures in jazz will collaborate at Helzberg Hall on Thursday, May 11.  Kurt Elling will sing with the accomplished band led by saxophonist Branford Marsalis.  The setlist will likely focus on material from their 2016 album Upward Spiral.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Concert Review: Bill Frisell at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Jack DeJohnette Trio at the Gem Theater

Two titans of improvised music performed in Kansas City on Saturday.

Appearing in the Harriman-Jewell Series, Bill Frisell and three co-conspirators provided live accompaniment for a screening of Bill Morrison’s documentary The Great Flood.  Jack DeJohnette closed the 2016-17 season of the American Jazz Museum’s Jazz at the Gem.

How to choose?  I didn’t.  Along with few dozen other zealots who were among both audiences of about 500,  I attended Frisell’s 5 p.m. show and the 8 p.m. concert in the Jazz District.  The investment was significant.  I acquired the last available Frisell ticket for $35.  Day-of-show admission to DeJohnette was $60.  It was worth it.

Frisell, trumpet player Ron Miles, bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Gerald Cleaver read from sheet music as they gave voice to the degraded newsreel footage displayed on a screen at the back of the stage of Atkins Auditorium.  I found it emotionally exhausting- not to mention distracting- to study the bleak images.  I often closed my eyes to better focus on Frisell’s gorgeous tones.

Unfortunately, Frisell’s score for The Great Flood is aligned with the most circumspect of the many styles he has recorded on his three dozen solo albums.  While undeniably evocative, the pastoral Americana became wearisome.  I waited for a moment of cathartic dissonance that never arrived.

There was plenty of noise at the Gem Theater.  Of the hundreds of exhibitions of improvised music I’ve attended in Kansas City that have attracted more than 100 people, Saturday’s show was the most obtuse and least accessible.  Only a few ticket-holders walked out even though DeJohnette, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and bassist/laptop-ist Matthew Garrison ((yes- that Coltrane, and that Garrison)) kicked up a daringly dense racket.

DeJohnette sounded like himself- that is, nothing like anyone else- as he played martial patterns.  Garrison created the contemporary sonic landscapes associated with Thundercat.  Like almost every other post-bop reed man, Coltrane couldn't avoid referencing his father.

Working primarily from the prickly material on In Movement, the uncompromising trio’s sinister set might have been intended as a murky reflection on our foreboding times.  Only during DeJohnette’s stints at the piano did glimmers of hope flicker inside the Gem Theater.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Now's the Time: Jack DeJohnette

Hearing bassist Matt Garrison and saxophonist Ravi Coltrane reinterpret their fathers’ contributions to “Wise One” in the embedded video is chilling.  Drummer Jack DeJohnette reworks Elvin Jones’ part on a reading of the track from John Coltrane’s 1964 album Crescent.  The lumintous trio will perform at the Gem Theater on Saturday, April 22.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*John Scott of the Green Lady Lounge spoke to Tim Finn of The Kansas City Star about his acquisition of the Tank Room.

*The American Jazz Museum added the Chick Corea Trio and Lalah Hathaway to the lineup of its KC Jazz & Heritage Festival.  C.J. Janovy updated her story about the troubled rollout of the forthcoming event for KCUR.

*Joe Klopus surveyed the week in jazz for The Kansas City Star.

*Four albums by Matt Otto are examined by Bird Is the Worm.

*Steve Kraske interviewed Hermon Mehari for KCUR.

*The live music component of Corvino’s Supper Club & Tasting Room is featured near the conclusion of a video report about the new establishment.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Steve Paul- Worth the road trip to hear @PatMetheny in Wichita w: @mattwilsonjazz, Martin Wind and 2nd set with symphony players from Wich State. (photo)

*From a press release: The Kansas City Aviation Department… is teaming up with the American Jazz Museum with a welcome mat like no other: live Kansas City Jazz music… The American Jazz Museum will provide Blue Room jazz club artists who will play during peak arrival times on Sundays, Mondays and Fridays from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm. Aviation Department Facilities Maintenance craftsmen built a small stage in Terminal B by the Southwest Airlines baggage claim where Blue Room jazz musicians can play so visitors will be greeted with Kansas City jazz tunes… The upcoming performance schedule is as follows: Friday, April 21st – John Paul Drum; Sunday, April 23rd – Stan Kessler; Monday, April 24th- Everett Freeman; Friday, April 29th – Eddie Moore; Sunday, April 30th – Kenny Glover.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Concert Review: Agora at the Green Lady Lounge

The Green Lady Lounge might consider serving specialty cocktails replete with umbrellas during performances by Agora.  The new group led by guitarist Matt Hopper plays Brazilian-themed retro-lounge tunes.  While decidedly in the louche tradition of space-age bachelor pad music, the output of Hopper, organist Ken Lovern, percussionist Patrick Conway and drummer Todd Strait resembled the sound of Rosinha de Valença more than Walter Wanderley at the venue last week.  Agora returns to the Green Lady Lounge on Tuesday, April 18.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Now's the Time: The Kandinsky Effect

The Kandinsky Effect, a trio with members based in New York and Paris, will perform at the Riot Room on Friday, April 14.  The group suggests that it forges a “sonic journey through 21st century jazz dreamtime.”  Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle and the Xtraordinair$, the production team of Leonard Dstroy & Dominique Sanders, open the show.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Larry Kopitnik reports that John Scott, the owner of the Kansas City jazz venue the Green Lady Lounge, has acquired the nearby Tank Room.

*The text accompanying a photo spread in The Kansas City Star characterizes the Green Lady Lounge as “the epicenter of the city.”

*Pat Metheny is among the marquee acts at this month’s Wichita Jazz Festival.

*Herbie Hancock and an all-star band will perform at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts on August 12.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Jon Batiste- I'm honored to receive the American Jazz Museum Lifetime Achievement Award. It is a privilege to represent our culture. (photo)

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- The McCaslin show was outstanding. Thanks for getting the word out.

*From Chris Burnett: We are pleased to announce that the "Live at the Hollywood Theater" artist selections for the 2017 and 2018 seasons are confirmed as follows: 2017 - May: Queen Bey; 2017 - Nov: Megan Birdsall; 2018 - May: Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle; 2018 - Nov: Chris Hazelton's Boogaloo 7.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Concert Review: Donny McCaslin at the Folly Theater

Donny McCaslin raised the bar at the Folly Theater on Friday.  Receptive members of the audience of about 300 are likely to judge all future jazz performances by the exceedingly high standard set by McCaslin and his three collaborators.

McCaslin, a New York-based tenor saxophonist, keyboardist Jason Lindner, bassist Jonathan Maron and drummer Mark Guiliana, played two sets of electronica-laced post-bop that made the work of many jazz musicians seem hopelessly passé and stiflingly inhibited.

The group (with Maron of Groove Collective filling in for Tim Lefebvre) became a sensation by providing the core sound of David Bowie’s 2016 swan song Blackstar.  A rendition of the album’s “Lazarus” proved that McCaslin’s ensemble could reproduce the sonic attack without studio trickery.  They closed the transcendent show with a frenetic reading of Bowie’s “Look Back in Anger.”

McCaslin used a number of effects to manipulate his bruising playing, but an extended unaccompanied solo during “Memphis Redux” indicated that his unadorned tone is also astonishing.  Linder’s contributions- an unlikely combination of the electronic funk artist Flying Lotus and Rick Wakeman of Yes- indicated that progressive rock can be surprisingly sexy.

While revelatory, I fear that the decisive concert further diminished my already limited tolerance for cautious, commonplace jazz.

Set list: Shake Loose, Glory, untitled new song, Lazarus, Fast Future, untitled new song, Memphis Redux, Look Back in Anger

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Now's the Time: Jon Batiste

Jon Batiste, 30, will be presented with the American Jazz Museum's 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Gem Theater on Friday, April 7.  A statement issued by the institution declares that "Batiste’s significant strides in jazz at such a young age place him in historic company with other acclaimed artists, like Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald."  You be the judge.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Downbeat reviewed Bobby Watson’s forthcoming Made in America album.

*Jessie Riggins praised a collaboration between the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra and the Kansas City Chorale.

*Joe Klopus highlights the week’s jazz events for The Kansas City Star.

*Eater magazine reports on the live music component of Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room.

*The Jefferson City News Tribune interviewed Hermon Mehari.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Urban Music Scene LISTEN To Guitarist Norman Brown’s Duet With Chanté Moore “Holding You” from New Album "Let it Go" Coming April 14! (link)

*From a press release: On April 25 David Basse will begin a year-long weekly engagement on Tuesdays with Jim Lower’s 18 piece Big Band at Jazz Nebula inside Californos Westport. With a full dinner menu and an intimate setting, this new nightspot will provide dinner and a true focus on live jazz, an element that has long been missing from the Kansas City Jazz Scene… David’s long successful run as host of The Jazz Scene on Kansas Public Radio, which also began 16 years ago, now appears to be coming to an end. Due to recent state budget cuts, Saturday, June 24, will be the final day of the popular radio program.

*From a press release: On Wednesday, April 12, 2017, the American Jazz Museum will host a book launch event for local author... Steve Penn’s new book Last Call: A History of the Kansas City CODA Jazz Fund. (T)he program (is) at 6:30pm (and) includes a guest appearance from Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II, and performance by Adam Galblum, a Kansas City instrumentalist… As part of the program, Mrs. Blanche Williams, the  widow of Claude "Fiddler" Williams, will officially gift her late husband’s violin to the American Jazz Museum.  Last Call: A History of the Kansas City CODA Jazz Fund features biographies and photos of many of the musicians for whom the organization has provided funeral services and burials. The CODA Jazz Fund pays these expenses for area jazz musicians whose families can't afford the cost.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


Charlie Parker had been dead for more than 30 years when the current incarnation of the New York jazz club Birdland opened on 44th Street in 1981.  Even so, I was filled with hometown pride that had nothing to do with Bird as I listened to the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra from a $30 seat at the venue's bar in Manhattan on Sunday.  The three percussionists that propel the accomplished 18-piece ensemble are peerless, but many members of the band didn’t seem capable of outplaying the top Kansas City based jazz musicians. 

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Now's the Time: Donny McCaslin

Donny McCaslin is on a roll.  The New York based saxophonist’s 2015 album Fast Future and Blackstar, his surprise collaboration with David Bowie that was released in 2016, are among the most bracing albums of the last two years.   The astounding performance in the embedded video reveals why his appearance at the Folly Theater on Friday, April 7., is likely to be a highlight of the 2017 jazz calendar.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Karrin Allyson will perform a free concert during Topeka’s Sunflower Music Festival on Monday, June 12.  Her tour itinerary also includes a date at the Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival on Friday, May 26.

*Stereogum included Hermon Mehari’s debut album in a roundup of compelling new jazz releases.

*Steve Lambert performed the National Anthem prior to a game in the men’s basketball tournament at the Sprint Center last weekend.

*Chris Burnett examines his artistic process.

*An Oakland outlet profiled Angela Wellman, a musician once based in Kansas City.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Hermon Mehari- "Bleu" debuts on @billboard Jazz Charts at #22: … #billboard #billboardjazz #bleu

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- Thank you for doing this for so many years.

*From a press release: In celebration of Women in Jazz Month, Pablo Sanhueza has invited Jackie Zamora to join the KC Latin Jazz All-Stars at the Blue Room. Jackie is a lead vocalist with the New Mexico Latin Jazz Orchestra... The evening will feature pieces co-arranged by Ms. Zamora… Sponsored by the American Jazz Museum, and led by Pablo Sanhueza, The Kansas City Latin Jazz All-Stars has delivered authentic, traditional dance floor latin music for fourteen years… Free admission, all-ages show. Thursday, March 30, 2017 7pm

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Confessions of a Jazz Blogger

A prominent member of Kansas City’s jazz community recently asked to meet with me.  I’ve created a crib sheet that lays out a few of my core beliefs to make our forthcoming discussion more efficient.

1. Jazz isn’t inherently superior to other forms of music.  I spend at least as much time listening to hip-hop as jazz.

2. Professed jazz advocates who wax poetic about “America’s classical music” and “America’s gift to the world” are either hucksters or dolts.

3. Pleas for jazz education leave me cold.  All forms of music are equally accessible in 2017.  Nothing prevents those who prefer Ed Sheeran and Future from listening to or aspiring to be Brad Mehldau and Ambrose Akinmusire.  People aren’t consuming jazz simply because the music doesn’t move them, not because they don’t understand it or are unaware of its existence.

4. I’m rarely more distressed than when I’m attending a jazz performance that doesn’t appeal to me.  Bad punk rock can be enormously entertaining.  Poorly rendered jazz is insufferable.

5. A member of my immediate family has suggested that my presence acts as a deterrent to younger and more fashion-conscious people who might otherwise frequent jazz clubs.

6. I’d rather read old newspapers at home than attend a reverent tribute concert.

7. Plastic Sax is partly intended to share the good news about Kansas City’s jazz scene.  I’ve failed in that mission.  Attendance at jazz events continues to decline.  Meanwhile, lip service about the city’s jazz legacy is louder than ever.

8. Jazz musicians can be their own worst enemies.  Between unseemly album covers, self-defeating sheepishness, misguided decisions to boycott streaming services and infighting with one another (not to mention initiating feuds with jazz bloggers), it’s a wonder that interest in their music isn’t even lower.

9. The words “workshop,” “clinic,” “pedagogy” and “adjudicate” make my eyes glaze over.

10. Why do I persist?  I’ve posted almost 1,500 times at Plastic Sax in the past 11 years.  I continue to believe that documentation is important.  Besides, no other outlet is covering the scene in a way that reflects my perspective.  I respect the music far too much to treat it like a hothouse flower.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Now's the Time: Sherry Scott

Sherry Scott, a member of an early incarnation of Earth, Wind & Fire, will sing at the Blue Room on Saturday, March 25.  She battles an inattentive crowd in the embedded video.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The American Jazz Museum has modified the price of tickets to its forthcoming Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival.  Single day tickets were originally $50.  Prospective attendees now have an option to buy $25 main stage tickets and $15 passes to the Blue Room for each day.

*Joe Klopus considered the week in jazz.

*George Benson and Kenny G will perform at Muriel Kauffman Theatre on May 24.

*Hermon Mehari’s Bleu and Iberica, a collaboration between Matt Otto and Alaturka, were released last week.

*Jessie Riggins reviewed the Jazz 100 concert at Yardley Hall.

*KCUR aired a segment on Everette DeVan last week.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Brian Scarborough- Just caught Jazz 100 with @DaniloPerezJAZZ and company. Great music with an incredible lineup! Thanks for stopping in KC! #jazz

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Concert Review: Jazz 100 at Yardley Hall

I entered Yardley Hall with a chip on my shoulder on Sunday.  The promotional campaign for the "Jazz 100" concert at Yardley Hall exasperated me.  Instead of highlighting the names of the participants, the front of a postcard mailing for the event read "celebrating 100th birthdays of Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Mongo Santamaria and Thelonious Monk.”  Other marketing efforts for the final event of the Jazz Winterlude festival also treated members of the all-star band as irrelevant afterthoughts.

I didn’t buy a $30 ticket to honor the dead.  Instead, I was eager to hear the vivacious work of the all-star band assembled by pianist Danilo Pérez.  Vocalist Lizz Wright, saxophonist Chris Potter, trumpeter Avishai Cohen, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, bassist Ben Street, percussionist Roman Diaz and drummer Adam Cruz played as if they were eager to prove that vibrant jazz wasn’t exclusive to the previous century. 

The extended duet between Perez and Cohen that opened the concert dispelled my concerns.  Rather than attempting to evoke Gillespie, Cohen played in the meditative style documented on his most recent album for the ECM label.  His bandmates were similarly unburdened by the format.  Wright sounded nothing like Fitzgerald when she applied her gorgeous voice to selections including the obscure civil rights song ”It’s Up To Me and You”.

Perez’s solo rendition of “‘Round Midnight” contained none of Monk’s idiosyncrasies.  Even if Diaz wanted to approach Santamaria faithfully during his turn in the spotlight, there was no way the band would have allowed it.  The only familiar arrangement of the 90-minute concert was assigned to “Well, You Needn’t”, but Potter’s extended solo pushed well beyond John Coltrane's exploration.

With the exceptions of Street and Cruz, each member of the band had at least one such opportunity to display their core strength.  Rather than clashing, consequently, the radically mismatched frontline of Potter, Cohen and Gordon provided engaging variety.  Anyone in the audience of more than 500 who had hoped to revisit the 1950s was almost certainly disappointed.  I walked out of Yardley Hall on cloud nine.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Now's the Time: Dianne Reeves

The seasoned vocalist Dianne Reeves returns to Kansas City for a concert at the Gem Theater on Saturday, March 25.  Her most recent album includes covers of songs associated with Fleetwood Mac, Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Dick Hawk, the jazz enthusiast who owned the Gaslight Grill, has died.

*The announcement and subsequent retraction that Janelle Monaé would be the primary headliner of the KC Jazz & Heritage Festival occurred on February 22.  A statement issued by the American Jazz Museum that day suggested that "(i)t is the Museum's hope to announce the new headliner in the next 3 weeks."  That was three weeks ago today.

*Saxophonist Tivon Pennicott is in town and is sitting in at a few gigs this week.

*DownBeat magazine covered the celebration of Pat Metheny at last weekend’s Alternative Guitar Summit.

*Tweet o’ the Week: KC Parks Board- #KCParks Board approves agreement with @americanjazzkc for Jazz & Heritage Festival on The Paseo from Truman to 19th on #MemorialDayWeekend

*From a press release: The American Jazz Museum is thrilled to welcome nationally acclaimed Louisiana pianist, Jon Batiste, to accept its 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. The ceremony will take place in the Gem Theater on Friday, April 7, 2017, at 8:00pm... Batiste is currently the house bandleader on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert... Batiste’s significant strides in jazz at such a young age place him in historic company with other acclaimed artists, like Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald…  During the ceremony, several notable local musicians will perform to honor Batiste… Tickets are $45 for the Lifetime Achievement Award Ceremony…

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Theater Review: Live Bird at the Green Lady Lounge

Charlie Parker was resuscitated at the Orion Room of the Green Lady Lounge for about an hour last Friday.  Unfortunately, the jazz legend didn’t have anything new to say.  Jeff Robinson fully inhabits the character of the troubled genius in his one man show Live Bird.   Yet the lack of dramatic tension in the narrative vignette and the bromidic accolades about Kansas City’s jazz heyday are uninspiring.  The show becomes fully engaging only when Robinson picks up a saxophone.  Four patrons took in the play that was given an inadvertently appropriate soundtrack by the jazz band playing upstairs.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Now's the Time: Jazz 100

The good news: an all-star band consisting of vocalist Lizz Wright, saxophonist Chris Potter, trumpeter Avishai Cohen, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, pianist Danilo Perez, bassist Ben Street, percussionist Roman Diaz  and drummer Adam Cruz will perform at Johnson County Community College on Sunday, March 19.  The bad news: the concert is billed as "Jazz 100," a "celebration of the centennial birthdays of Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Mongo Santamaria and Ella Fitzgerald."  The embedded video indicates that the musicians are capable of transcending the dubious concept.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Jessie Riggins critiqued the appearance by Cyrus Chestnut and Warren Wolf at the Folly Theater.

*The week in jazz is surveyed by Joe Klopus.

*Alaturka’s concert at Polsky Theatre was reviewed by Mike Alley.

*Oleta Adams duets with José James on the closing track of his new album Love in a Time of Madness.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Shireen- Got a free ticket to listen to the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra perform at the Kauffman Center tonight. Amazing!!!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Just Another Night

Inspired after updating The Kansas City Jazz Calendar, I went club-hopping along the 18th Street corridor last Thursday.

The outing began at the Blue Room, where the visiting guitarist Anthony Wilson was sitting in with a group led by saxophonist Matt Otto.  Although there was no cover charge, only about 20 people heard Wilson do things with his instrument that may never have been done before. 

My admiration for Otto’s art is well documented, including a rave review for his latest album a few weeks ago.  Vocalist Shay Estes’ impressive delivery of “Old Devil Moon” evoked Marilyn Maye. 

While it was tempting to stick around for the second set, I was eager to check out the scene at Madrigall, the Oak Street venue that’s weathered various incarnations in recent years.  Kurt Wheeler’s band played for about 15 people in the first half of a double bill topped by Robert Castillo’s group.  Wheeler’s quintet sounded like a hard-bop ensemble that had been binging on dusty albums by fusion groups like Spyro Gyra. 

I took a seat in a low slung chair that might have been described as “mod” in 1973.  The orderly rows of throwback furniture caused Madrigall to resemble the world’s most fashionable bus station.

The doorman was flummoxed by my quick exit.   I’d paid $7 to hear only 20 minutes of Wheeler’s band.  I didn’t tell him that I was headed to the nearby Green Lady Lounge, the upscale jazz emporium that never charges a cover.

Danny Embrey, a guitarist capable of putting a scare into Wilson, was in the midst of fearsome solo as I entered.  Powered by drummer Todd Strait, Embrey, second guitarist Brian Baggett and organist Ken Lovern provided a rambunctious soundtrack to the revelry of a few dozen patrons.

My energizing 90-minute outing further verified Kansas City’s reputation as a stronghold of immensely talented but woefully under-appreciated jazz musicians.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Now's the Time: Cyrus Chesnutt

Cyrus Chestnut has replaced Aaron Diehl as the featured pianist for Saturday’s concert at the Folly Theater.  While both men are devoted to honoring the jazz tradition, the pianists have substantially different musical (and sartorial) styles.  Chestnut demonstrates his bluesy approach in the embedded video.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Hermon Mehari’s solo debut album Bleu will be released on March 17.

*Joe Klopus examines the week’s jazz events for The Kansas City Star.

*Project H is on the lineup of NextBop’s “Jazz For the Masses” party in Austin.

*A blogger shared a wishlist of compatible artists capable of attracting the large audiences that would justify the $50-per-day entry fee of the American Jazz Museum’s forthcoming festival.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Roach Ellington- SHAME on KC JAZZ folks lying on Janelle Monae

*The Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated for March.

*From a press release: The University of Kansas School of Music presents the 40th Annual KU Jazz Festival concerts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 3 and Saturday, March 4 in Woodruff Auditorium at the Kansas Union. This year’s featured guest artist is guitarist Anthony Wilson… The March 3 concert features Wilson with the award-winning KU Jazz Ensemble I and the KU Jazz Festival All-Star Band… The March 4 concert will present Wilson in a small group setting, including leading a KU/Kansas City-based version of the acclaimed Anthony Wilson Nonet. KU faculty members Matt Otto, T.J. Martley, Danny Embrey, Jeff Harshbarger and Brandon Draper and graduate teaching assistant Chuck MacKinnon will perform with the nonet, along with Kansas City musicians Brett Jackson, Marcus Lewis and Zak Pischnotte. Opening the concert will be the Matt Otto Combo, the top small group within the KU Jazz Studies Program… Tickets for each concert are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $10 with a KU ID.

*From a press release: In their most recent project, Save Art has partnered with instrument builder Mike Corrigan and members of the New Orleans jazz community to produce a first-of-its-kind trumpet handcrafted with materials sourced from building affected by natural disasters, gentrification and housing redevelopment projects in New Orleans… The trumpet will begin a nationwide museum tour kicking off in Kansas City, the home of the American Jazz Museum.  Corrigan discussed the project with a television personality.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Concert Review: Alaturka at Polsky Theatre

Tenor saxophonist Rich Wheeler opened Alaturka’s concert at Polsky Theatre on Sunday with an incantation that resembled an adhan, the Islamic call to worship.  His conjuring was an exceedingly welcome sound to adherents of the Kansas City based Turkish jazz group.

Alaturka commanded an inordinate amount of coverage at Plastic Sax in the first half of this decade.  Yet the innovative band has been out of commission lately.  Aside from a mention in a review of a 2016 Brandon Draper album, Alaturka hasn’t been cited at this site in a couple years.  About 100 people purchased $20 tickets to attend Sunday's reunion. 

Wheeler’s playing evoked Pharoah Sanders by way of Joe Henderson.  Beau Bledsoe wielded a Turkish oud with his customary fastidiousness.  Bassist Jeff Harshbarger contributed a smoky pulse that contrasted with Brandon Draper’s peripatetic percussion.  The addition of violinist Zsolt Eder on a few intriguing selections transformed Alaturka into a chamber music group. 

Bledsoe joked that he and his colleagues no longer resemble the men in the dated publicity photo on the cover of the program.  Their visages may have changed since the formation of the band in 2007, but the men in Alaturka sound as magnificent as ever.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Now’s Not the Time: Janelle Monáe

The ordinarily forsaken office of the Kansas City jazz blog Plastic Sax has been inundated with inquiries from people who don’t know Ben Webster from Bruno Mars.  Hours after announcing that hometown hero Janelle Monáe would be the primary headliner of its new festival, the American Jazz Museum was forced to issue a retraction.  A press release from the institution insists that "we would never intentionally release false information... The museum takes full responsibility for what happened."  I've been unable to explain the baffling blunder to the associates who have turned to me for insights.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*As first reported by Plastic Sax last month, The Pitch has confirmed that Janelle Monáe will headline the American Jazz Museum’s Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival in May.  Trombone Shorty, John Scofield, Regina Carter, Brandy and the Hot Sardines are among the additional headliners.  Details were published by The Pitch today.  EDIT- From an American Jazz Museum press release dated February 22: This morning we were very proud to announce the Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival. Unfortunately, we must retract the statement of Janelle Monae performing at the Jazz Festival. Janelle was not confirmed for the event and was incorrectly advertised.

*Jazz vocalist and social activist Barbara Dane performed at the Folk Alliance conference in Kansas City last week.

*Bird lives?

*Tweet o’ the Week: Mena May- @robertglasper I'm sitting in the audience  at the Folly theater with my jaw wide open! #signothetimes  #genius 😘❤️#love

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dominique Sanders in the Spotlight

Less than 18 hours after flying high at a concert with the jazz titan Robert Glasper for an audience of hundreds at the Folly Theater, Dominique Sanders had a soft landing at the Green Lady Lounge on Sunday afternoon.  The Kansas City based bassist excelled during a lightly attended matinee show as a member of the Paul Shinn Trio.  The setting may have been less momentous, but Sanders demonstrated the formidably versatile talent that helped land him Saturday's prestigious gig. 

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Now's the Time: Robert Glasper

In a preview for Robert Glasper’s concert at the Folly Theater on Saturday, February 18, a writer for The Kansas City Star suggested that the native Texan is "the most important jazz musician of his generation."  While he’s best known for his forays into funk and R&B, the embedded video demonstrates Glasper’s sensitivity in more conventional jazz modes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The smooth jazz artist Richard Elliot and the Celtic rock band the Elders are the headliners of the 2017 edition of Jazz in the Woods.

*Joe Klopus previewed Robert Glasper’s concert at the Folly Theater.  Also, the venue initially indicated that Glasper would be accompanied by saxophonist Casey Benjamin, bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Mark Colenburg.  Instead, he’ll be joined by bassist Brandon Owens and drummer Damion Reid on Saturday.

*The Kansas City Star posted a photo gallery of jazz-related images.

*Tweet o’ the Week: American Jazz Museum- Spent the afternoon at Roasterie cupping a new coffee blend for the Museum ☕️

*From the American Jazz Museum: Celebrate birthdays of local and national jazz musicians with the American Jazz Museum on Friday, February 17, 2017 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm. This month celebrates the contributions of local musicians Myra Taylor and Ben Kynard through musical performance and unveils a mini-poster exhibition about our honorees. Join us for cake, music, dancing, and a celebration of Kansas City's unique jazz sound! The program is free and open to the public, and will take place in the Gem Theater…

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)