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.