Thursday, October 19, 2017

Now's the Time: Greg Osby


Greg Osby, one of the most prominent jazz artists of the 1990s, will perform with the Ben Markley Quartet at Black Dolphin on Friday, October 20.  Banned in New York and Inner Circle and among the albums the saxophonist recorded for Blue Note Records that are often cited as modern-day classics.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes














*Arnold Young’s Live at Westport Coffee House Theater was released on October 5.

*”007”, a new song by Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle, is available at iTunes.

*Marilyn Maye begins a seven-performance residency at Quality Hill Playhouse on November 1.

*Scott Yanow reviewed Bobby Watson’s Made in America for Chris Burnett’s new site.

*The municipal government of Kansas City created a brief promotional video about the “Legacy Plays On” exhibition at the American Jazz Museum.

*My detractors are encouraged to consider my statement of purpose regarding criticism of locally based artists.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Rick Hellman- Bucking for @HappyInBag Tweet O' the Week; Creighton Organization knocking 'em out @theshipkc (photo)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Concert Review: Hudson at Yardley Hall














Jack DeJohnette and John Scofield sang ragged harmonies on the chorus of a swinging rendition of the Band’s “Up On Cripple Creek” at Yardley Hall on Sunday.  The moment might have the most delightful surprise in a concert filled with unexpected pleasures.

The legendary drummer and iconic guitarist were joined by keyboardist John Medeski, a leading light of the jam-band community, and Larry Grenadier, a first-call bassist for the likes of Pat Metheny.  Scofield explained that the group is named  Hudson because “we all live in the Hudson River Valley” before he added that much of the their repertoire consists of “covers... associated with that region.”

A couple seated near me was among the quarter of the audience of about 500 who bailed before the conclusion of the nearly two-hour concert.  They were repelled by the free jazz dissonance in a profound instrumental interpretation of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.”  They probably should have stayed- no two selections on the nine-song set list were alike. 

The eclectic concert also included the sort of old-school organ jazz that wouldn’t have sounded out of place at the Green Lady Lounge, the propulsive funk of Medeski, Martin & Wood’s good-time collaborations with Scofield and groovy renditions of classic rock songs.  The show was enhanced by the most immaculate sound field of any jazz concert in the Kansas City area in recent memory. 

DeJohnette laughed at himself when he dropped a drumstick on the final beat of the encore. It was the only misstep in an otherwise flawless concert.

Set list: Wait Until Tomorrow, Hudson, El Swing, Castles Made of Sand, Up On Cripple Creek, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Dirty Ground, Tony Then Jack (my best guess), Woodstock

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Now's the Time: Hudson


Kansas City's jazz community is well-versed in the concept of feast or famine.  2017 is a time of plenty.  On Sunday, jazz titans Jack DeJohnette and John Scofield will make their second area appearances of the year.  Along with John Medeski and Larry Grenadier, they’ll perform in the quartet Hudson at the Carlsen Center.  DeJohnette’s trio was featured in a Jazz at the Gem concert in April.  (Plastic Sax reviewed the concert).  Scofield was a headliner at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival in May.  (The Kansas City Star reviewed the event.)  Let’s eat.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes















*Joe Klopus previewed Hudson’s concert at the Carlsen Center for The Kansas City Star.

*Marcus Lewis chatted with Glenn North on KCUR’s Central Standard program.

*The Sextet was named KCUR’s Band of the Week.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Marc Horner- Enjoying a wonderful evening at the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra at the Kauffman Center; Helzberg Hall

*From a press release: Owen/Cox Dance Group is delivering on its mission of presenting exciting new music and dance collaborations by presenting In the Rompus Room with The People’s Liberation Big Band, October 21-22.  The Kansas City based dance company Owen/Cox Dance Group and The People’s Liberation Big Band… will once again join forces for two world premiere dance works. In the Rompus Room and Letterbox will feature original choreography by Jennifer Owen to music by Brad Cox, P. Alonzo Conway, Matt Otto, and Nick Howell… The program will also feature vocalists Calvin Arsenia and Shay Estes. October 21, 2017 at 8 PM and October 22, 2017 at 2 PM, The Polsky Theatre, JCCC.

*From a press release: Kansas City-based Arts Professional, Conn-Selmer Saxophone Artist and Clinician, ARC Recording Artist and Educator Christopher Burnett has accepted a position with Leavenworth High School as a teaching assistant. Mr. Burnett joins the staff of Dr. Jared Prost as an assistant band director where he assists the program by teaching woodwinds and jazz band.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Album Review: Molly Hammer- Out of This World














Readers of The Pitch recently named Molly Hammer the “Best Jazz Artist” in Kansas City.  (Mark Lowrey, Alex Abramovitz, Bobby Watson and Logan Richardson placed two through five.)  It’s not a knock on Hammer to suggest that the results are ludicrous, partly because Kansas City is home to the accomplished vocalists Deborah Brown and Marilyn Maye.

Hammer’s debut album Out of This World confirms that she’s at her best working as a torch singer rather than in a jazz setting.  Her thoughtful approach on the cabaret songs “Never Will I Marry,” “Detour Head” and “Listen Here” rivals the work of elite vocalists like Brown and Maye.  Most of the other selections don’t emphasize Hammer’s incisive voice and lyrical sensitivity that are her core strengths.

The fine playing of saxophonist Brad Gregory, pianist Joe Cartwright, bassist Steve Rigazzi and drummer Todd Strait can't redeem the shopworn “Doodlin’” or “At Last.”  Novelties like “TV is the Thing This Year” and “Pig Foot Pete” are cutesy rather than quaint.  Hammer possesses the talent to fashion an exemplary album.  Out of This World isn’t it.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Now's the Time: Angela Hagenbach

Angela Hagenbach will perform at Village Presbyterian Church at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 6. Admission is free. The strength of the vocalist’s appearance at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival and in the embedded video reveal that Hagenbach sounds better than ever in 2017.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes













*Dennis Winslett and Sonie Joi Thompson-Ruffin aired their grievances about recent events at the American Jazz Museum in a Black Art in America podcast.

*A television station reported on the partnership between the Folly Jazz Series and the Kansas City Art Institute.

*The Kansas City jazz enthusiast Tom Wells is the subject of a lengthy interview at All About Jazz.

*Molly Hammer was interviewed for a second time by Joe Dimino.

*The Little Big Band was featured in The Martin City Telegraph.

*The Topeka Capital-Journal previewed the Downtown Jazz & Food Truck Festival.

*From Steve Kraske’s wish list: I’d figure out a way to make people like jazz. Many of you wonder why I like it. I can’t figure out why you don’t.

*Smoke Sessions Records created a new promotional video for Bobby Watson’s Made in America album.

*Tweet o’ the Week: ¡ɜɿoɾɪɹℲ- Pat Metheny on Super Audio Compact Disc direct from a Denon DCD-1500SE through a pair of MDR-7506s at Tower Records. What is life???

*From Marcus Lewis: The Marcus Lewis Big Band is joining forces with Kansas City emcees Kemet The Phantom and Kadesh Flow to combine big band with hip-hop in a show titled Brass & Boujee. Arranger and Trombonist Marcus Lewis will present big band arrangements of Kemet and Kadesh's original material, as well as full jazz band versions of songs such as Kendrick Lamar's "Alright" and Bruno Mars' "24K Magic". Friday, October 6, at Ruins Pub.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Album Review: The Sextet- Blob Castle















“Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?”  The inspired treatment the Kansas City jazz band the Sextet and guest vocalist Calvin Arsenia apply to “Colors of the Wind” reflects their eagerness to use a full musical palette on the energetic new album Blob Castle

Robert Castillo, the bassist and leader of the Sextet, told Plastic Sax that “I get chills with every listen” to the imaginative treatment of the Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz composition.  The remainder of Blob Castle is certain to inspire similarly enthusiastic responses from adventurous listeners. 

Acting as a splendid introduction to lesser known area talents including the trumpeter Teddy Krulewich, trombonist Trevor Turla and the saxophonist Max Levy, the kaleidoscopic album includes conventional post-bop, groove-oriented soul-jazz and splashes of free improvisation.  Unconventional song titles like “#notmypresident” and “Gluten Free Water” are indicative of the Sextet’s inspired approach.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Now's the Time: Mike Dillon


The one-time Kansas City resident Mike Dillon returns to the Brick on Friday, September 29.  Life Is Not a Football, the manic percussionist latest release, overlflows with incendiary brilliance.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes














*Bernice Todd, the widow of Oliver Todd, and author Steve Penn were interviewed by Joel Nichols.

*Molly Hammer was featured on KCUR’s Band of the Week segment.

*A crowdfunding campaign for Everette DeVan is titled “Help Musician with End Stage Renal Failure.”

*The Lawrence based vocalist Vanessa Thomas was interviewed on KCUR’s Central Standard program.

*Tweet o’ the Week: KC Jazz Orchestra- We've got a great concert celebrating the ebullient jump Blues tradition on the 6th!

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- Nothing wrong with people having a good time at a show - I'm all for it. I'm also not concerned about "jazz" having mass appeal - that hasn't been the case since the big band era. The more subtle and sophisticated that improvised music becomes, the smaller the audience. It can take years of listening to prepare your mind/ears to be receptive to certain sounds. As a jazz nerd in my mid 50's, I would enjoy a Vijay Iyer concert way more than a Thundercat Bruner show. When I was in my early 20's, probably the opposite would be true.

*From a press release: Saxophonist/Composer Matt Otto is without peer as a leading academic in the field of jazz… It was not, then, an unusual decision by Beau Bledsoe, guitarist and founder of the Kansas City-based arts organization Ensemble Ibérica, to approach Otto, asking him to compose for and record an album utilizing the diverse influences and instruments found in this ensemble. A collaboration three years in the making, this new recording, Iberica will be performed in its entirety during this concert with additional songs arranged by pianist Brad Cox… Matt Otto - saxophones; Brad Cox - piano/sounds; Karl McComas-Reichl - bass, cello; Beau Bledsoe - guitars; Michael McClintock - guitars; Jordan Shipley - guitars. Friday, October 13th, 7:30pm MTH Theater $25.

*From a press release: Dan Sturdevant is a singer-pianist who is described… as “velvet-voiced, charming and a splendid pianist-accompanist with a fine combination of performance skills”...  His wide repertoire includes a mix of standards, contemporary and originals. With Tim Whitmer and the Consort Band. Unity Temple on the Plaza, 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 4, $7.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Concert Review: Thundercat at the Granada















I witnessed something I wasn’t sure I’d ever see again last Wednesday.  About 1,500 people in their twenties waved their arms in the air and joyously danced for two hours at a jazz concert. 

The musical foundation of Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner’s appearance at the Granada on September 20 differed little from the jazz fusion performed by his fellow electric bassists Victor Wooten and Stanley Clarke at shows I’ve attended in the past year.   The packaging, however, was notably different. 

Wearing red gym shorts and a black t-shirt, the Californian told fans that “I've been drunk every day of this tour so far.”  The confession made sense.  Bruner is touring in support of Drunk, a woozy album that includes a guest appearance by Kendrick Lamar, the hip-hop giant who featured Bruner on his game-changing 2015 manifesto To Pimp a Butterfly.

Abetted by violinist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, keyboardist Dennis Hamm and the ferocious drummer Justin Brown, Bruner recalled the 1970s heyday of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return To Forever.  His loopy songs were transformed into extended improvisational jams.  The quartet sounded as if they might strike into a cover of Al Jarreau’s “We’re In This Love Together” during a few pop-oriented moments.

I don’t know how many members of the audience dominated by people born in the 1990s identified the invigorating music as jazz.  I'm not sure that it matters.   The concert was the most heartening jazz event I’ve attended in years.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Now's the Time: Danny Embrey and Rod Fleeman


Guitarists Danny Embrey and Rod Fleeman have elevated countless jazz gigs in Kansas City.  Their sublime styles will be featured in a free midday concert at the Recital Hall at Johnson County Community College on Tuesday, September 26.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes















*The Lied Center and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra are collaborating on a project based on the University of Kansas’ basketball program.

*The Sextet’s Blog Castle will be released on October 7.

*Molly Hammer’s new album Out of This World was released on September 15.

*James Martin suggests that the American Jazz Museum “presents itself as an important organizer and presenter” in the “The Legacy Plays On” exhibition.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Blue Blazes- Overheard in a Kansas City jazz venue tonight -"I know you're a little suicidal right now, but, I've got some gourmet cheese popcorn.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Whiskey Trip: Jimmy Can't Dance in Louisville















My FOMO meter shattered last week.  During my first full day in Louisville, Kentucky, I discovered that Ira Sullivan had performed at a new jazz club the previous night.

Missing the octogenarian didn’t prevent me from visiting Jimmy Can’t Dance that evening.  The basement venue beneath a downtown sandwich shop has a capacity of about 75.  The layout is much like Smalls in New York City and the Green Lady Lounge in Kansas City.

I spoke to Dennie Humphrey, a partner in Jimmy Can’t Dance, during a break in a jam session that featured faculty and students from the University of Louisville.  He has high hopes for the room.  Humphrey believes his connections to prominent area musicians including Jim James of My Morning Jacket will make Jimmy Can’t Dance a fashionable late-night destination for young revelers.

Jimmy Can’t Dance didn’t need any outside help last Wednesday.  The room was packed with tourists, young professionals and members of the service industry unwinding after work.  Representatives of each group were eager to sip bourbon and bask in the inviting atmosphere of Louisville’s only jazz club.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Now's the Time: Tauk


Rather than blowing the dust off neglected albums by the likes of Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express and Brand X, graying funkateers and nostalgic fans of fusion are advised to join youthful jam-oriented enthusiasts at the Riot Room on Friday, September 29.  The New York based quartet Tauk plays a similarly muscular style of improvised music.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes















*Molly Hammer discussed her life and new album with Monique Gabrielle Salazar.

*The Project H was named KCUR’s Band of the Week.

*Tweet o’ the Week: SME Lancer Bands- The SME Blue Knights Jazz Ensemble kicks off the @PrairieVillage Jazz Festival today! 3:30pm, Harmon Park

*From a press release: Bassist/vocalist Katie Thiroux follows her debut CD with the masterful Off Beat (Aug. 18 Capri Records), a recording that showcases her crackerjack instrumental work, expressive and swinging vocals, and impressive artistic command. She’ll present a CD release concert on Wednesday, October 4 at 7:30 p.m. at Californos… Tickets $20. Joining Thiroux will be pianist Steven Feifke and drummer Matt Witek… Thiroux was artist-in-residence from June through early September 2017 at Quincy Jones's new club Q's Bar and Lounge at the Palazzo Versace in Dubai.

*From a press release: Jazz luminaries Jack DeJohnette, John Scofield, John Medeski and Larry Grenadier will kick off the 2017-18 Winterlude series at Johnson County Community College at 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15, in the Carlsen Center’s Yardley Hall. Touring under the name “Hudson,” reflecting the New York Hudson River Valley home for the musicians, DeJohnette (drums), Scofield (guitar), Medeski (keyboards) and Grenadier (bass) are individually winners of numerous awards, top-notch improvisers and leaders of their own groups.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

In the Tank for the Black Dolphin

















I was an ersatz doorman last night.  Each time I exited the Black Dolphin represented an opportunity to shill for the new venue as I club-hopped in the Crossroads District.

When I opened the door during a set by the blues/soul/funk band the MGDs, the sudden burst of party music caught the attention of curious passerby on Grand Boulevard.  My spontaneous cry of “Come in! No cover! Live music!” succeeded in attracting a handful of well-heeled couples who were convinced to enter after I explained that the Black Dolphin is the sister venue of the Green Lady Lounge.

The Black Dolphin opened seven weeks ago, but my first-hand experiences and the commentary I continue to encounter on social media indicate that word hasn’t spread.  A few steps to the south of the Green Lady, the Black Dolphin is a minimalist space with bare walls, a high ceiling and a gold curtain framing the stage.  Patrons receive the superb service they associate with the Green Lady.

A handful of stumblebums on their way to the Green Lady were perplexed by the scene when the glorious jazz-based sound of the Project H hit them as I left Black Dolphin late in the evening.  “The Green Lady is over there, but the sound is coming from here” a befuddled guy slurred to his pals.  I declined to help them out.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Now's the Time: Oleta Adams


Oleta Adams’ headlining set at the American Jazz Museum’s Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival in May was charming.  Her appearance at the top of the bill of the Prairie Village JazzFest on Saturday, September 9, should be no less delightful.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes















*Larry Kopitnik’s cogent analysis for The Pitch decries the lack of progress in the Jazz District on the 20th anniversary of the American Jazz Museum.

*Joe Klopus previews the Prairie Village Jazz Festival for The Kansas City Star.

*Matana Roberts, the Thing and an all-star band led by Steve Swell are among the left-of-center luminaries booked in the 2017-18 season of the New Music Circle in St. Louis.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Steve Paul- It's a People's Liberation Big Band of KC night at @recordBar. #jazz

*Comment o’ the Week: Chris Hazelton- Papa Lou is the best!

*From a press release: The fall Jazz Series at Johnson County Community College begins on Tuesday, Sept. 26, in the Carlsen Center Recital Hall… The free series features weekly noon-hour performances by outstanding local musicians in the 70-seat Recital Hall unless noted… Sept. 26: Danny Embrey/Rod Fleeman Duo; Oct. 3: Ron Gutierrez Quartet (Polsky Theatre); Oct. 10 : Todd Strait Quartet (Polsky Theatre); Oct. 17 : Tyrone Clark Trio; Oct. 24 : Steve Lambert Quintet; Oct. 31 : Bryan Hicks Duo; Nov. 7: Holeman, Hicks and Hill.

*From Doug Talley: Mark your calendar for the evening of September 15!! This is a special Silent Picture at the Colonnade with Music scored (and played live) by Doug Talley on woodwinds, Tim Brewer on bass, T.J. Martley on keyboard, Keith Kavanaugh on drums and Sam Platt on percussion… Admission is FREE… The band will play starting at 7:00 but Movie dark is not until 8:00 pm… The Movie will be shown at the Colonnade Building at St John and Gladstone Blvd...  This film is an early Alfred Hitchcock silent classic thriller, "The Lodger" 1927.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Concert Review: The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival at Tompkins Square Park














After years of pledging to attend the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in New York City, I fulfilled the longstanding goal last weekend.  I caught the final day of the 25th edition of the event at Tompkins Square Park.  The free afternoon concert featured performances by the Joshua Redman Quartet, Lou Donaldson, Tia Fuller and Alicia Olatuja.

The composition and demeanor of the audience of more than 3,000 was as striking as the auspicious lineup.  Rather than treating jazz as background music, the audience dominated by people born in the ‘80s and ‘90s was reverent.  Only the yipping of a dog at the back of the park broke the deferential silence during Redman’s unaccompanied introduction of an exquisite reading of “Stardust.”

The cultivated sound of saxophonist Redman, pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Marcus Gilmore seemed stuffy following a raucous outing by Lou Donaldson.  The ninety-year-old saxophonist was responsible for the day’s most memorable moment. Much to the consternation of the mortified emcee and a livid stage manager, Donaldson refused to cede the stage when his allotted time had expired.

After asserting that “I haven’t played in six months,” Donaldson and his band of guitarist Eric Johnson, organist Akiko Tsuruga and drummer Joe Farnsworth launched into a loose reading of his 1967 classic “Alligator Boogaloo” as the festival’s organizers fumed.  In addition to playing “Blues Walk,” “Wade in the Water,” “Wee” and singing a Kansas City-style blues, Donaldson told bawdy jokes and talked smack on music made after 1970.

Tia Fuller isn’t stuck in the past.  Abetted by pianist Shamie Royston, bassist James Genus and drummer Clarence Penn, the saxophonist played state-of-the-art soul-jazz that was accentuated by refreshing bursts of anarchic shrieks.  Olatuja’s opening set was highlighted by an extended rendition of “Amazing Grace.”  How sweet the sound, indeed.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, September 1, 2017

Now's the Time: Blair Bryant


Like Stanley Clarke?  So does Blair Bryant.  The young Kansas City bassist pays homage to the groundbreaking musician at his high-energy gigs.  Bryant returns to the Blue Room on Saturday, September 2.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes















*Chris Burnett’s performance at the Roots Festival in Paola garnered a favorable review.

*A drone captured overhead images of a pair of outdoor events at the annual Charlie Parker Celebration.

*Micah Herman was featured on KCUR’s weekly band of the week segment.

*Arthur C. Brooks pondered the dichotomies of Charlie Parker's life and art.

*Tweet o’ the Week: C.J. Janovy- Annual 21 sax salute at #CharlieParker gravesite is only 4 saxes. What's up #KansasCity #jazz-ers? Sad.

*From a press release: Candace Evans is a jewel in the Midwest Music Scene who performs a wide variety of styles including Jazz, Classical, Pop, Latin & Broadway. She began studying classical piano and voice at the age of eight and received top honors in both while attending Shawnee Mission East High School... She received a classical piano scholarship from Kansas University and graduated from Avila College...  With Spirituality & All That Jazz, 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 6, at Unity Temple on the Plaza. $7.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Now's the Time: Sullivan Fortner


Sullivan Fortner has a few more gigs in Kansas City before he returns to New York.  His keyboard work with John Scofield’s group in May and with Kansas City based musicians this month has been astounding.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes















*Joe Klopus interviewed Tivon Pennicott. The saxophonist is in town for the annual Charlie Parker Celebration.

*City Councilman Jermaine Reed insists that the Jazz District “is already experiencing a renaissance” in an editorial published by The Kansas City Star.

*A reader objected to an editorial in the The Kansas City Star about the reasons for poor attendance at the American Jazz Museum’s festival in May.

*Joe Dimino interviewed Ken Lovern.

*Krystle Warren’s new album Three the Hard Way was released last week.

*Tweet o’ the Week: KC Jazz Ambassadors‏- How do we convince area audiences that a LIVE JAZZ PERFORMANCE is the same kind of once-in-a-lifetime experience.

*From a press release: The Linden Root Dickinson Foundation awarded $25,000 to the American Jazz Museum for the preservation and maintenance of its one-of-a-kind, priceless collection… One of the Museum’s priorities is digitizing the collection of documents, film, and memorabilia amassed by Ohio attorney John H. Baker. Digitizing this collection of over 700 hours of film will increase public access. Completing this project will enable the American Jazz Museum to share these cultural assets with broad audiences and continue promoting America’s musical heritage.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Concert Review: Helen Gillet, Brian Haas and Jessica Lurie at the 1900 Building















I felt like an interloper intruding on a secret society of Kansas City’s intelligentsia at the 1900 Building last Tuesday.  Even though I paid the $25 (!) admission, I feared that I’d be asked to leave at any moment during the performance by cellist and vocalist Helen Gillet, pianist Brian Haas, saxophonist Jessica Lurie and guest artist Mark Southerland.  A mustard stain on my shirt and the 2 Chainz song that blared from my budget car as pulled into the parking lot made it clear that I wasn’t a member of the rarified salon of about 60.  Even so, I appreciated the adventurous musicians’ blend of free jazz, French chansons and folk.  The repertoire ranged from what may have been an interpretation of the Velvet Underground’s “The Black Angel’s Death Song” to the few minutes of serenity documented by Steve Paul.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Now's the Time: The Project H


The Project H is back.  One of the most vital ensembles in Kansas City recently returned from a hiatus.  The exemplary band performs at the Black Dolphin on Saturday, August 19, Saturday, September 2, Saturday, September 9, and Saturday, September 16.  The Project H is also on the lineup of the Prairie Village Jazz Festival on September 9.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes














*Joe Klopus previewed the opening week of this year’s Charlie Parker Celebration for The Kansas City Star.

*The Kansas City Star reviewed the MTH Theater’s jazz-based production of “An Evening With George Gershwin.”

*Shuttlecock and KC Metropolis reported on Herbie Hancock’s concert at Muriel Kauffman Theater.  Hancock was interviewed by KCUR’s Steve Kraske in advance of Saturday’s show.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Dominique Sanders- Soaking up game all day, and eating vegan with the big bro Terrace martin!!! Hype for the Herbie Hancock show tonight!!!!!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

By the Numbers














In the aftermath of Saturday’s reprehensible “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” statement by the President, I’m receiving a bit of deserved backlash for comments I made to a journalist a few weeks ago.  My assertion that “they’re not racist- they’re just afraid” serves as the headline of an editorial in today’s The Kansas City Star.  

While I’m not going to recant my words,  I understand why I’ve been rebuked by a critic who insists that “being afraid of crime when there’s no evidence of crime means that you’re racist.”  Instead, I’ll reiterate two key points.

I’ve never felt threatened or unwelcome during the hundreds of times I’ve visited the Jazz District in the last twenty years,  Once sketchy, the immediate radius of the museum complex is safe.  The Star’s editorial gets that right.  The piece falters, however, in its implied assertion that jazz can still serve as a major attraction.  The successful festivals it cites are headlined by pop, rock and hip-hop acts.

The poor attendance at the American Jazz Museum’s Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival three months ago shouldn’t have come as a surprise.  John Scofield, the jazz headliner on the first night of the event, attracted about 400 fans.  That more or less matches the similarly woeful turnout for the jazz giant’s concert at the Folly Theater in 2014 (my review).

(Original image of Bill Stewart and John Scofield at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Now's the Time: Helen Gillet


Is the New Orleans based Helen Gillet a jazz musician, a classical artist, a French chanteuse or a pop-oriented singer-songwriter?  As she explains in the embedded video, Gillet is all of those things.  She performs Tuesday, August 15, at the 1900 Building.  She’ll appear at the Brick on Wednesday, August 16.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes
















*Larry Kopitnick previewed this month’s Charlie Parker-related events for The Pitch.

*Marilyn Maye and Houston Person are among the performers in the 2017-18 season of The Topeka Jazz Workshop.

* The Kansas City Star and KCUR reported on how a $7 million infusion of city money has been spent in the Jazz District.

*The Mutual Musicians Foundation has a new site and promotional video.

*Mark Lowrey leads a group in a intriguing arrangement of Soundgarden’s “Fell On Black Days.”

*Krystle Warren created a 71-second promotional video for her forthcoming album Three the Hard Way.  AllMusic premiered the new song “Red Clay”.

*Downbeat reviewed a series of Pat Metheny outings at a Norway festival.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Ronnie Scott’s- #lastchance to get your tickets to a rare treat! Krystle Warren will perform soon at our club, grab your tickets.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Concert Review: The Harlem Quartet at Polsky Theater
















Chris Burnett, the sublime Kansas City jazz musician and relentless social media irritant, insists that the future of live jazz lies in the sort of formal presentations associated with classical music.  His vision seemed particularly prescient during a performance by the Harlem Quartet at Polsky Theater on Wednesday.  The string quartet’s swinging renditions of the jazz standards “Take the ‘A’ Train” and “A Night In Tunisia” enlivened an audience of about 300 that had fidgeted through a dry 20-minute reading of Mozart’s String Quartet #17.  The Harlem Quartet solidified its credentials among Kansas City jazz aficionados in a 2012 collaboration with Gary Burton and Chick Corea at the Gem Theater.  The enthusiastic response of Wednesday’s audience to works by Billy Strayhorn and Dizzy Gillespie indicated that Burnett’s advocacy of jazz listening rooms is entirely warranted.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Now's the Time: Herbie Hancock


Herbie Hancock performed at the Lied Center in Lawrence in 2011, but the icon will make his first appearance within the city limits of Kansas City in more than ten years at Muriel Kauffman Theatre on Saturday, August 12.  Hancock is joined by Billy Hart, Eddie Henderson, Bennie Maupin, Julian Priester and Buster Williams in the embedded footage from 1972.  Four modern-day heavyweights- Vinnie Colaiuta, James Genus, Lionel Loueke, and Terrace Martin- will perform with Hancock on Saturday.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes














*The schedule for this month’s Charlie Parker Celebration, an initiative that’s billed as “KC’s hottest jazz event of the summer,” has been finalized.

*Jesse Riggins reviewed a performance by Kurt Elling and the Branford Marsalis Quartet at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

*Millie Edwards was featured on KCUR’s weekly Band of the Week segment.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Clint Ashlock- Is there ANY other profession in the WORLD where non-pros come up to pros and assume they can do the job better, than in music?!

*Comment o’ the Week: David Baerwald- Yes, I meant no offense to Kansas City, sorry.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 30, 2017

"Let Jazz Be Gone"

















I was reminded of the parable of the blind men and the elephant as I listened to a talk radio segment that’s archived with the appropriately convoluted title “How Do We Bring Back the Life of Jazz Back to KC?”   Each of the on-air personalities and all of the commentators held entirely different conceptions of jazz.

The program’s hosts understand less about the music than I know about Farsi verb conjugations.  Even so, the uninformed commentary of the Glenn Beck wanna-bes was a reality check for members of the isolated Kansas City jazz community.  Inspired by an editorial in the The Kansas City Star that lambasted the American Jazz Museum’s financial travails related to the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival in May, the DJs framed the discussion with a pair of cogent questions: “How important is the American Jazz Museum to Kansas City?” and “Is Kansas City still a jazz town?”

Definitive conclusions weren’t reached, partly because no two contributors shared the same definition of jazz.  A caller admitted that his wife recently complained when he listened to Miles Davis in their home.  A sincere UMKC student referenced her jazz textbooks. Another man incorrectly insisted that “Kansas City artists are playing” the Newport Jazz Festival.  One caller mourned the loss of 106.5 The City, a smooth jazz station that flipped to a country format in 2003.

“This town supports three country radio stations because there’s an audience for it,” a host replied.  “I don’t think the genre is suffering because there’s no radio, I think there’s no radio because there’s no fans.”  She also stumbled into the truth when she wondered why the pop star and actress Brandy was the primary headliner of the festival: “If you have to go outside of jazz to get your headliner, to me there’s a problem with the genre.”  Her partner drove the point home by revealing that he was unfamiliar with Bobby Watson, John Scofield and Chick Corea, the festival’s top jazz bookings.

A crusty caller named Kelly seemed to speak for the hosts and the majority of their listeners: “The day of jazz is over.  We know who Bob Seger is… but who is Duke Ellington?  Let jazz be gone.”

(Original image of Karrin Allyson and Houston Person performing at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Now's the Time: The Floozies


A typical Kansas City jazz booster might be overjoyed to hear that a largely instrumental, rhythm-oriented, locally based band regularly compels more than 1,000 party-minded people in their twenties to pay $20 to attend its concerts.  Rather than performing jazz, however, The Floozies play electro-funk that appeals to the grandchildren of people who listened to Dave Brubeck and Stan Kenton.  The duo headlines a concert at Crossroads KC on Saturday, July 28.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes















*An editorial published by The Kansas City Star suggested that tthe American Jazz Museum’s financial travails are a “mighty embarrassment.”  The slow drip of bad news is documented by The Kansas City Star and KCUR.

*The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra has announced its 2017-18 season.

*Joe Klopus unveiled the Folly Theater’s forthcoming season in his latest column.

*Eboni Fondren’s contribution to the Fringe Festival was reviewed by Anthony Rodgers.

*Clint Ashlock was featured in an article about full-time musicians.

*Marc Myers unearthed an obscure 1959 album by the Kansas City trombonist Arch Martin.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Bill Brownlee- Bird’s complicated relationship with Kansas City is examined on “The Passion of Charlie Parker.” My album review

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- Thanks to Bobby Watson for a cool listening list. I loved reading his comments about why he liked these artists.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Album Review: The Passion of Charlie Parker













F#ck you, Kansas City.
I paid dues, Kansas City.
I ain’t gonna pay them no more.
Outta here, Kansas City.
I want to let you know that it was wrong, 
How you all treated your son.
Such a penny ante city to be from.

Kansas City’s civic boosters and jazz pollyannas won’t care for “So Long (Exodus to New York City),” a scathing track on The Passion of Charlie Parker.  The fascinating new song cycle includes Jeffrey Wright’s portrayal of a disgusted Parker bidding adieu to his hometown.

Producer Larry Klein has suggested that he and his collaborators “created a musical play that... follows the narrative arc of (Parker’s) life” by adding new lyrics and intriguing arrangements to familiar Parker compositions.  Although he’s best known as an actor, Wright is even more memorable than star vocalists including Kurt Elling, Melody Gardot, Madeleine Peyroux and Gregory Porter on The Passion of Charlie Parker.

The singers’ names appear on the cover of the album, but the real star of the project is saxophonist Donny McCaslin.  As he demonstrated at the Folly Theater in April, McCaslin has an adventurous spirit that evokes Parker’s innovations.  The most compelling selections of The Passion of Charlie Parker recall Blackstar, McCaslin’s celebrated collaboration with David Bowie.

In the guise of Parker, Wright tells unimaginative Kansas Citians that “your expectations fall short of my intentions, motherf#ckers.” He was right. Accordingly, The Passion of Charlie Parker is likely to surpass even the most auspicious assumptions of sympathetic listeners in Kansas City.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Now's the Time: Aaron Hedenstrom


The Green Lady Lounge will provide an opportunity for neglected jazz fans hankering for fresh sounds to snap out of their summer doldrums on Saturday, July 29. The Minnesota based saxophonist Aaron Hedenstrom will perform material from the new album The Living Room Sessions from 10:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

















*Black Dolphin, a space that will serve as an auxiliary wing of the Green Lady Lounge, opened Saturday, July 15, with a performance by the Project H.

*The Green Lady Lounge is ranked #37 on Yelp’s list of the Top 50 Music Venues In The U.S.

*Bobby Watson listed a few of his favorite recordings by “unsung New York masters” for JazzTimes.

*A loquacious lunatic occasionally references Kansas City’s jazz scene in a rambling discussion.

*Tweet o’ the Week: American Jazz Museum- Field trip to Copenhagen, anyone? Why Copenhagen is Becoming the Jazz Capital of the World

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- Thanks for the 411 about the Bix museum! Also, love that you said kerfluffle.

*From a press release: Community Christian Church presents Tim Whitmer’s July Jazz Jam 7: Jump, Jive, ‘n Wail.  Join Tim Whitmer and friends on Sunday, July 30 at 7pm for a sizzling, swinging 90-minute stomp through some of the most fun and upbeat music ever written!  This toe-tapping, finger-snapping concert will feature some of the area’s most dynamic performers and entertainers, including the amazing talents of singers The Wild Women of Kansas City (Millie Edwards, Lori Tucker, & Geneva Price), saxophonist extraordinaire Jim Mair, violinist Marvin Gruenbaum, guitarist Rod Fleeman, pianist Tim Whitmer, and the award-winning JJJ rhythm section of James Albright and Jurgen Welge.

*From KC Jazz Alive: Experience the evolution of jazz from ragtime to bebop as KC Jazz Alive presents Kansas City musicians alongside tenor saxophonist Tivon Pennicott… and pianist Sullivan Fortner... This exciting, new component of the Charlie Parker Celebration will take you on a thrilling journey through the classics you know and love.  “The Jazz Experience: Rhythm Changes,” Saturday, August 28, at the Folly Theater.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Milestones















A moment I’d long anticipated transpired last week when I took someone who recently turned 21 to the Green Lady Lounge for the first time.  I knew he’d be impressed by the setting.  Sure enough, the ornate decor, superb service and intimate atmosphere pleased him.  The young man isn’t a jazz fan, but he shares my reverence for music.  He was horrified when heedless patrons talked over the band.  With only a slight tinge of sorrow, I explained that the customer-is-always-right dynamic and the absence of a cover charge has helped make the Green Lady Lounge the preeminent destination for jazz in Kansas City.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Now's the Time: Matt Otto


Ibérica, Matt Otto’s rapturously gorgeous collaboration with Ensemble Ibérica, will almost certainly be the most artistically rewarding album released by a Kansas City based artist in 2017.  Reunion, a new recording Otto made with Andy Ehling, is similarly rewarding.  Otto returns to the Blue Room on Monday, July 17.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes













*Laura Spencer’s examination of the American Jazz Museum’s recent woes for KCUR has instigated hand-wringing throughout the global jazz community.  The Kansas City Star’s Lynn Horsley reported on details of the budgetary shortfall.  Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner of the American Jazz Museum addressed the glitches related to the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival in an informal video interview with The Kansas City Star.  A television report on the kerfuffle offers a different perspective.

*Bobby Watson discussed his latest album with Steve Kraske.

*Blair Bryant was featured on KCUR’s Band of the Week segment.

*Jazz Artistry Now is Chris Burnett’s latest internet endeavor.  He was recently interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*Tweet o’ the Week: The Independent- Formerly known as Hope & All That Jazz, join @hopehouse at the inaugural Believe gala on August 5th.

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- "... somewhat stodgy format?" Ah man - I was enjoying your otherwise positive review until you slipped that one in. Why?

*From a press release: The long-planned Bix Beiderbecke Museum and Archive opens to the public on Monday, July 24, 2017, in its new home at the River Music Experience in Bix’s hometown of Davenport, Iowa… Visitors can see original instruments played by Bix, including the only piano Bix owned.  The museum takes the visitor chronologically through the life of Bix Beiderbecke.  His music is featured throughout the museum, along with videos, interactive displays, and photos, many shown for the first time.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Album Review: Steven Lambert- Seven Stories














A Plastic Sax review of a 2011 performance by Steve Lambert suggested that the young Kansas City saxophonist evoked past masters like Johnny Griffin, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and John Coltrane.  Lambert’s new album Seven Stories confirms that early assessment.

Lambert’s aggressive attack, muscular tone and defiantly old-school approach have become more pronounced in the intervening years. Aside from the electric bass on “Mente de Corazon,” few elements of Seven Stories would have sounded out of place on the 1959 recording Bags & Trane.  As with the classic release by Milt Jackson and John Coltrane, the selections on Seven Stories consist of rounds of solos following the statement of a theme.

The energetic playing of Lambert, vibraphonist Peter Schlamb, pianist Andrew Ouellette, bassists Ben Leifer and Dominique Sanders and drummer Brad Williams counteracts the somewhat stodgy format. Lambert’s thrilling soloing on the rousing “Bells of War” would be capable of bringing audiences to their feet at the Green Lady Lounge or the Mutual Musicians Foundation, forums in which the stirring music of Lambert and his cohorts is best experienced.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Now's the Time: DJ Shadow


Josh Davis, the producer and turntablist who works as DJ Shadow, isn’t a jazz artist, but his performance at the Madrid Theatre on Monday, July 10, will be informed by the spirit of the music.  His 2007 show at the VooDoo included a couple explicit references to Kansas City’s jazz heritage.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes















*KCUR reported on the American Jazz Museum’s “cash flow issue.”

*Two albums created by or featuring locally based musicians have recently been released: the Kansas-Nebraska Act’s Music for Small Jazz Ensemble and Steve Lambert’s Seven Stories.

*Steve Penn will discuss his book Last Call: The History of Kansas City’s the Coda Jazz Fund, at the Central Library on Wednesday, July 12.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Marcus Lewis- What's going on tonight KC? lol

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Fest Fault Lines














The Kansas City Star chastised the American Jazz Museum for bouncing checks and a fashioning a financial shortfall related to the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival.  The editorial insists that “the size of the city’s bailout is an outrage.”

One locally based musician responded to the piece by suggesting in a social media post that musicians should organize their own festival.  I’m all for the initiative.  That said, I was one of about 25 people who attended the man’s set at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival in May.  While bounced checks are impossible to defend, I commend festival organizers for including dozens of locally based artists on an impressive lineup that featured stars like John Scofield and Chick Corea.

Unfortunately, sets by Kansas City artists confirmed my primary concern about the local jazz scene: a lot of outstanding music goes largely unheard.  While The Pitch’s month-late recap  takes a dig at my accounts of the festival for The Kansas City Star, the paucity of listeners at the three-day event was so glaring that it couldn’t be ignored.  KCUR, the only other outlet to offer an analysis of the festival, also noted the “non-existent crowds” for many Kansas City based artists.

As musicians consider organizing a festival of their own, I hope they also work toward expanding their core base of support.  In the meantime, there’s nothing preventing fans from creating their own self-curated jazz festivals by bar-hopping between the Green Lady Lounge, Black Dolphin, the Blue Room and other Kansas City venues.

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

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Now's the Time: Caravan Palace


Swing will resound at one of Kansas City’s busiest mid-sized venues on Tuesday, July 11.  Alas, most members of the Greatest Generation are likely to overlook the concert at the Midland theater.  The ingenious French ensemble Caravan Palace repackages vintage jazz for younger audiences that are partial to electronic dance music.  Caravan Palace updates a standard associated with Billie Holiday in the embedded video.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes














*Oleta Adams will headline the Prairie Village JazzFest on September 9.  The complete lineup: 3:00 p.m.- Shawnee Mission East Blue Knights; 4:00 p.m.- The Project H; 5:20 p.m.- The Bram Wijnands Swingtet; 6:30 p.m.- Sax & Violins; 7:40 p.m.- Eddie Moore & the Outer Circle; 9:00 p.m.- Oleta Adams.

*Chris Hazelton received votes in the “Rising Star–Organ” category of the 65th Annual DownBeat International Critics Poll.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Gaslight Grill- Lynn Zimmer & The Jazz Band, live at the Gaslight Grill Wednesdays through Sundays!

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- My favorite part of your site was the KC Jazz calendar. I'm sure it was a hassle to collect the info and post it, but it was appreciated. Thanks. Would you consider posting a weekly list of (random) suggested gigs? Maybe somewhat off the radar stuff?

*From a press release: The New Red Onion Jazz Babies have been exciting audiences for over 30 years. This Kansas City group is dedicated to the preservation of traditional Jazz, the way the Red Onion Jazz Babies played it in the 1920s. Spirituality & All That Jazz: 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 5, 2017; Unity Temple on the Plaza; $7.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Organ-ized















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.)