Thursday, April 19, 2018

Now's the Time: Matt Hopper

Matt Hopper is a fixture on Kansas City’s jazz scene.  The guitarist has 12 gigs scheduled during the next 12 days.  He plays “Set Your Fears Aside,” an enchanting selection from his First Love album, in the embedded footage captured at Green Lady Lounge in 2015.  The comprehensive Kansas City Jazz Calendar lists hundreds of additional spring performances.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Pat Metheny was featured by the National Endowment of the Arts in a video in advance of his induction as an NEA Jazz Master.  His remarkable acceptance speech is at the 52:00 minute mark of the 2018 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert.

*Joe Klopus examines the lineup of the SFJazz Collective in a concert preview for The Kansas City Star.

*Kansas City Mayor Sly James commented on the proposed temporary closure of the American Jazz Museum.

*“Bando”, a track by the Kansas City group We the People, is now available.

*Kamasi Washington will perform at The Truman on October 29.

*Jeneé Osterheldt chimed in on the woes of the American Jazz Museum.

*Nathan Davis, a saxophonist born in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1937, has died.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Tim Burnell- The American Jazz Museum is not a "black" museum.  It is an AWESOME museum.

*Comment o’ the Week: MP- There were a few that weren’t on the album. I saw one of my old friend’s mother at the concert. I might ask her if she remembers. Either way, that was a fun concert. First one of ever been to in my 15 years of concerts at the Gem that I can recall not having an intermission. And they really didn’t need one

*From a press release: The American Jazz Museum and the Mutual Musicians Foundation are teaming up to present activities in honor of International Jazz Day… Swing, Bebop and Beyond celebrates the music and culture of Kansas City Jazz through performances, lectures, film screening, exhibitions, and walking tours… Schedule of Events for International Jazz Day April 30, 2018: Blue Room: 11:00 am – 1:00 pm Jazz Brunch featuring Charles Williams, $5 at the door;  11:30 am – 5:30 pm Walking Tours; Mutual Musicians Foundation: 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm Jazz Hop featuring Tyree Johnson; Blue Room: 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Jazz Fusion featuring Brad Williams; Mutual Musicians Foundation: 4:15 pm – 4:45 pm The History of the Mutual Musicians Foundation; Mutual Musicians Foundation: 5:00 pm - 5:45 pm Bebop featuring Ernest Melton; Gem Theater: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Swing featuring Denyse Walcott accompanied by dancers from Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey; Blue Room: 7:00 pm - until 11:00 pm Jam Session featuring Christian Swan; Gem Theater: 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm  The Last of the Blue Devils film documentary; Mutual Musicians Foundation: 10:30 pm - 11:30 pm Latin Jazz featuring Pablo Sanhueza and the KC Latin Jazz All Stars; Mutual Musicians Foundation 11:30 pm – Until the sun comes up Late Jam Session featuring James Hathaway.

*From Chris Burnett: Italian jazz piano maestro Dino Massa will return to Kansas City in the Spring of 2019 to perform and record with Dino Massa Kansas City Quintet. This is the USA-based modern jazz ensemble Massa co-leads with the Kansas City-based alto saxophonist, Christopher Burnett.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Concert Review: Bill Frisell, Thomas Morgan and Rudy Royston at the 1900 Building

Trouble with a bass amplifier interrupted an otherwise flawless performance by Bill Frisell, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Rudy Royston at the 1900 Building on Sunday, April 8.  Frisell, one of the most consequential guitarists in jazz history, was sanguine about the pause 30 minutes into his trio’s 90-minute outing.

“That was like a blessing in disguise,” he said.  “It gave us all a chance to process all the heady shit we played.”

He was right.  A rapt audience of about 150 had already experienced a dizzying opening salvo highlighted by a deconstruction of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and a masterful demonstration of looping effects.

With the technical difficulties resolved, the trio dazzled on selections including a gonzo reading of Thelonious Monk’s “Epistrophy,” a straightforward take on the James Bond theme “Goldfinger” and a tender interpretation of Burt Bacharach’s “What the World Needs Now Is Love.”  The outing was the most engaging of Frisell’s several area appearances in recent years.

Frisell’s eyes appeared to water as he acknowledged the presence of Jerry Hahn.  He said that while it’s common knowledge that Jim Hall and Jimi Hendrix are among his primary influences, he “stole really a lot from” the seminal guitarist with the same initials.  Even members of the audience who weren’t familiar with Hahn gratefully applauded him for the role he played in inspiring Frisell’s magnificent talent.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Now's the Time: Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

The Kansas City City Orchestra will perform at Enercity Swinging Hannover in Germany on May 9.  Admission is free at the open-air festival, but locals traveling overseas with the band can buy $20 tickets to preview the event’s headliner at the Lied Center on Tuesday, April 17.  The seven members of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble busked in their hometown of Chicago before relocating to New York.  Countless additional area gigs are listed at the Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Kansas City Star and KCUR report on a critical analysis of the American Jazz Museum that suggests the institution should be temporarily shuttered and that its leadership structure must be dramatically revamped.  Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner spoke to The Star about the study.  The Star’s editorial board assesses the situation.

*Hermon Mehari is the subject of an extensive profile by Natalie Gallagher for The Pitch.  He also led a quartet in a 25-minute Star Session set for The Kansas City Star.

*Clint Ashlock and Jeff Shirley were interviewed by Joe Dimino.  Shirley was also featured by Debbie Burke.

*Anat Cohen’s appearance with the KU Jazz Ensemble 1 was reviewed by Jessie Riggins.

*The Kansas City Star examined a couple key players in a battle for the future of the Jazz District and reported on a controversial piece of legal wrangling.

*Stephen Martin was featured in UMKC’s student newspaper.

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

*Nate Chinen suggests that Logan Richardson’s Blues People possesses “a feeling of urgent communion.” 

*Tweet o’ the Week: Mike Mahoney- City Councilman Jermaine Reed (and Jazz Museum Board member) says a shutdown of the American Jazz Museum for a reset would be a “nuclear option” that he opposes. #JazzMuseum

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Concert Review: The Anat Cohen Tentet at the Gem Theater

Anat Cohen threw her head back and placed a hand over her heart as trombonist Nick Fitzer took a stirring solo at the Gem Theater on Saturday.  Her ecstatic response was justified.  The transcendent 100-minute set by the Israeli clarinetist and her Tentet seamlessly shifted between jazz, klezmer, psychedelic rock and Brazilian and Malian folk musics.

An audience of more than 200 took in the global sound that was imbued with a mysticism that verged on holiness.  While the repertoire was based on Cohen’s 2017 album Happy Song, the concert was significantly more boisterous than the lively recording.  Specific artists were occasionally evoked- Benny Goodman’s “Oh Baby” was given a wild reading and a couple segments recalled Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland- but the most rapturous portions of the evening combined disparate styles to create entirely new sounds.

Cohen, 38, has been working toward the auspicious synthesis for most of her wide-ranging career.  She surrounded herself with an international cast that included the Albanian cellist Rubin Kodheli, the Israeli bassist Tal Mashiach, the Kansas City trumpeter Hermon Mehari and the Brazilian pianist and accordionist Vitor Gonçalves and on Saturday.  The singular collaborators allowed Cohen to achieve a panoramic sound that avoided the contrived approach of academic exercises and the mushy sentimentality of misguided musical do-gooders.

In achieving profundity free of pretense and by playing clarinet like a
cheerful version of Eric Dolphy, Cohen surpassed the achievements of like-minded predecessors including Gil Evans, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra and Gunther Schuller.

(Original image by Plastic Sax. From left to right: Vitor Gonçalves, Sheryl Bailey, Tal Mashiach, Anat Cohen, Nick Finzer, Hermon Mehari, Rubin Kodheli, Owen Broder, James Shipp and Anthony Pinciotti.)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Now's the Time: Ben Allison & Think Free

Ben Allison & Think Free perform at the 1900 Building on Saturday, April 7.  The bassist’s all-star band includes trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, guitarist Steve Cardenas and drummer Allan Mednard.  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar lists more than two dozen additional gigs on April 7.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joe Klopus previewed a forthcoming concert by the Anat Cohen Tentet for The Kansas City Star.

*High school trombonist Robert Traphagan was featured in a television news segment.

*The Project H’s new Star Sessions performance at the Blue Room streams here.

*Footage of a sixty-minute recital featuring Matt Otto leading a band in a performance of material from the 2017 album Ibérica has been uploaded to YouTube by Beau Bledsoe.

*A bit of history was uncovered in the Jazz District.

*Tweet o’ the Week: KCTV5- In true #KansasCity fashion, jazz music greets @Royals fans entering Kauffman Stadium gate B. #OpeningDay #RaisedRoyal (video)

*From Matt Chalk: I'm bringing my band out from New York next week to do some gigs across the midwest and we're stopping in KC for two nights. On Thursday, April 5th we'll be doing standards at the Intercontinental Hotel on the Plaza from 7pm-11pm. Then on Friday, April 6th we're at the Black Dolphin from 8:30pm-12:30am performing a ton of my brand new music for Quartet. This music fuses and expounds upon the traditions of 20th century French classical composers Ravel, Messiaen, and Dutilleux and American jazz ensembles led by Coltrane and Shorter... We have Marko Churnchetz (Slovenia) on piano, Myles Sloniker (US) on bass, and Francesco Ciniglio (Italy) on drums.

(Original image of the decor at Gates Bar-B-Q by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Album Review: Charles Williams- Flavors of Jazz

Charles Williams once provided a sophisticated soundtrack for diners at a revolving restaurant atop Kansas City’s skyline.  While the ritzy establishment Skies was shuttered in 2011, the pianist’s new album Flavors of Jazz verifies that his elegant sound is flourishing.

Williams is now best known as the pianist of the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra and for playing jazz-tinged R&B in a band that features vocalist Ron Gutierrez.  The instrumental Flavors of Jazz explores the fertile terrain between mainstream swing and soulful party music.  Bassist DeAndre Manning and drummer Mike Warren join Williams on the set of catchy original compositions and familiar melodies. 

The band dresses the Lennon and McCartney composition “Yesterday” in church clothes and captures the ethereal beauty of Benard Ighner’s “Everything Must Change.”  A reading of “Miss Celie's Blues,” a song composed by Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton for “The Color Purple,” is even more engaging than a bluesy interpretation of the Michael Jackson smash “Billie Jean.”  Only the inclusion of the overexposed “Wonderful World” seems unnecessary.

Skies may be a distant memory but Flavors of Jazz is capable of transporting imaginative listeners to a formal but funky cocktail party.  The Blue Room will host the official album release show for Flavors of Jazz on April 14.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Now's the Time: Denise Thimes

Denise Thimes was a headlining act at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York earlier this month.  The St. Louis vocalist performs at the Blue Room on Saturday, March 31.  A multitude of additional gigs are listed on the Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Project H was featured on KTGB’s Eight One Sixty program.

*KCUR reported on Kansas City’s promotional efforts related to UNESCO’s "Creative City of Music" designation.

*A party for the “official launch” of the low-power radio station KOJH will be held at the Mutual Musicians Foundation on Sunday, April 1.

*Bobby Watson will perform the National Anthem at Kauffman Stadium prior to the Kansas City Royals’ first home game.

*Tweet o’ the Week: wisonsinsane- Can't decide what is worse: A soft jazz band playing live in the Concourse of the Kansas City airport. Being inside the Kansas City airport.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Album Review: Jeff Shirley- Point of the Story

Point of the Story, the new album by Jeff Shirley, is impeccably tasteful.  It’s a shock, consequently, when a bit of grit is introduced on the eleventh track.  “Gerkin’s Sister Temple” adds six-minutes of left-of-center edginess to a 75-minute document that otherwise glides right down the center of jazz’s mainstream lane.

Shirley is a young Kansas City guitarist in the tradition of past masters like Joe Pass and Kenny Burrell.  He’s joined by the correspondingly elegant band of pianist Roger Wilder, bassist Bob Bowman and drummer Matt Leifer.  Ryan Thielman contributes flugelhorn flourishes to three tracks.

Conservative but never cautious, Shirley plays with a graceful confidence that makes Point of the Story a straight-ahead jazz fan’s delight.  The sole frustrating aspect of the project is that a couple tracks fade out just as they’re heating up, a dilemma that will likely be rectified during the release party for the album at Black Dolphin on Saturday, April 14.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Now's the Time: Natalie Bates

Since powering the youth band that’s captured in the embedded video performing a rendition of the big band standard “Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing),” drummer and bandleader Natalie Bates has become an established component of Kansas City’s jazz scene.  She leads a group at Green Lady Lounge on Sunday, March 25.  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar lists a multitude of additional gigs.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Jessie Riggins asks “where are the younger audiences” as she laments the “small audience size” in her review of a Matt Otto concert at Polsky Theatre.

*The Lenexa Art Fair will double as a jazz festival.  The lineup for the May 12 event: Brian Scarborough Quartet, 10 a.m. - noon; Brad Allen Trio, noon - 1:30 p.m.; Brian Ruskin Quartet, 2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.; Herschel McWilliams Quintet, 4 p.m. - 5:25 p.m.; Heat Index, 5:45 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

*Max Groove was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*Tweet o’ the Week: HOKNetwork- Excited to work with #KansasCity leaders and community on the revitalization of the 18th & Vine Historic District, renowned as a cradle of jazz and center of African-American culture (link).

*From a press release: The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra (KCJO), the region’s most prominent big band that strives to preserve the rich heritage of Kansas City jazz, is performing in its first international trip in two European cities. First, the KCJO will perform, May 9-10, 2018, at the Hannover Enercity Swinging Jazz Festival in Hannover, Germany. After the jazz festival concludes, the KCJO will travel on to Szczecin, Poland to perform in a smaller concert May 11-12, 2018… Other performers representing Kansas City will be Karla Bauer… and Greg Carroll.... To ensure the spiritual background of this event is not forgotten, an Ascension Day service will be held with a choir under the director of Karla Bauer... The festival was visited by more than 40,000 people in 2017, making it one of the largest open-air music festivals in Europe.

(Original image of the site that once housed Jardine’s jazz club by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Album Review: The Project H- Everyday, Forever

Everyday, Forever, the fourth album by The Project H, comes with strings attached.  The signature components of the Kansas City instrumental band’s sound- bold horns, sturdy melodies and unwavering grooves- are supplemented by a string quartet on half of the album’s ten tracks.

The strings add subtle shadings to “Black Swan,” provide a rhapsodic introduction to “The Company You Keep” and help make “Ripple Effect” one of the most animated tracks in the Project H’s catalog.

Jazz enthusiasts will be thrilled by Everyday Forever’s soaring solos.  A few highlights: bandleader and trombonist Ryan Heinlein’s engaging statement on “Black Swan,” saxophonist Brett Jackson’s aggressive attack on “Don’t Call It That,” vibraphonist Peter Schlamb’s fiery guest appearance on “Planet Smasher” and bassist Andrew Stinson’s thorough domination of “Table Scraps.”

Yet the Project H’s emblematic good-time vibes are the most appealing aspect of Everyday, Forever.  Accessible but smart, the ensemble remains an elite party band for bacchanalian revelers as well as for members of Kansas City’s intellectual elite.

The Project H’s second and third albums were reviewed at Plastic Sax in 2012 and 2014.  Everyday, Forever will be released on March 23.  The band will celebrate the project at the Westport Coffee House on Wednesday, April 4.  A trio led by Mark Lettieri of Snarky Puppy will also perform.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Now's the Time: Amber Underwood

At the conclusion of the embedded footage of Amber Underwood performing at Black Dolphin, a woman in the audience yells something like “yeah, you do it, girl!”  Anyone with an affinity for soul-infused jazz in the vein of Hubert Laws will likely share her enthusiasm for Underwood’s sound.  The Kansas City flautist returns to Black Dolphin on Friday, March 16.  Dozens of the weekend’s additional gigs are compiled at the Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Trevor Turla, a senior in UMKC’s Jazz Studies program, shares interesting insights into his prospects as a jazz musician in Kansas City with the student newspaper.

*Peter Schlamb created an amusing music video for the new track “Skylar’s View.”

*The Anat Cohen Tentet will perform at the Gem Theater on Saturday, April 7.  Tickets are available here.

*Lonnie McFadden chatted with KCUR’s Chuck Haddix.

*Footage of a Tiny Desk concert featuring Logan Richardson and his band is slated to be uploaded by NPR on April 23.

*Ryan Heinlein was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*Steve Kraske interviewed two members of the Hot Sardines for KCUR.  Jessie Riggins reviewed the band’s concert at the Folly Theater.

*Clint Ashlock and Jo Ann Daugherty made a television appearance to promote last weekend’s concert by the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Jeff Shirley- March 30th - Album release!! April 13th - Release party/concert at Black Dolphin, 9PM, with Bob Bowman, Roger Wilder and Matt Leifer!!

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- Interesting, Otto and Cardenas are the only musicians known internationally......

*From a press release: CinemaKC, a non-profit film organization which spotlights films and filmmakers in the Kansas City area, will partner with sponsor KC Film Office at VisitKC, to present a series of classic feature films that were filmed in the region, with Kansas City locations, cast and crew.  The screening series will be a reunion of personnel who worked on the projects, as well as an opportunity to introduce new audiences to the big-screen experience… The first film in the series, Kansas City... will screen on Sunday, June 10, 2018 at 3:30 PM at the beautiful Screenland Medallion Theater...  Prior to the screening, at 2:15pm, VIP ticket holders will enjoy live jazz music at a VIP jazz reception, co-sponsored by KC Jazz ALIVE and General Admission $10 – Open Forum, Screening and Q&A afterwards.  VIP $25 – VIP Jazz Reception, Open Forum, Screening and Q&A.

*From a press release: Artists Recording Collective (ARC) recording artist, Christopher Burnett has announced that his working Christopher Burnett Quintet (CbQ) comprised of Kansas City-based professional musicians will be going into the studio to record in the fall of 2018. He said this new recording project initiative corresponds with the ensemble’s monthly first Saturday residency at Black Dolphin… (Burnett) will manufacture a limited edition run of heavy-vinyl LP records for audiophiles who'd like to have a physical product.”

(Original image of Magnavox manual by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Concert Review: The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra at Helzberg Hall

A wondrous rendition of Carla Bley’s “Who Will Rescue You?” at Helzberg Hall on Friday was a pivotal step in the evolution of The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra.  Bley’s 1990 composition can hardly be considered cutting-edge, but the inclusion of the subversive blues in the ensemble’s “Lady Be Good: Celebrating Women in Jazz” program signals the willingness of Clint Ashlock, the organization’s Artistic Director and Conductor, to advance the group’s repertoire.

Women were partly or wholly responsible for each of the evening’s selections.  The commendable theme led to a vibrant reading of Mary Lou Williams’ “Roll ‘Em,” Brad Gregory’s thrilling tenor saxophone solo on Melba Liston’s arrangement of “Let’s Get Down” and a rhapsodic flugelhorn feature by Ashlock on Maria Schneider’s chart for “My Ideal.”  No one near me in the least expensive $25.25 seats amid the audience of about 900 flinched at the concert’s edgiest moments.

Guest artist Jo Ann Daugherty contributed to several selections.  It’s not a slight to the orchestra to suggest that the pianist's absorbing playing on the original composition “Elsewhen” featuring only the pianist, bassist James Albright and drummer Sam Wisman was a highlight.  Given the program’s theme, it would be negligent to fail to note that every member of the orchestra is male.  The strength of the program reinforced the injustice of the discrepancy.

The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra has had three distinct phases since its debut in 2003.  The big band began as a hard-charging swing ensemble in the tradition of the Count Basie Orchestra under the direction of co-founder Jim Mair.  The sound of the group shifted when Kerry Strayer, an acolyte of Gerry Mulligan and Bob Brookmeyer, succeeded Mair.  Friday’s impressive concert indicates that Ashlock is committed to fulfilling the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra’s mission statement of “celebrating the past (and) embracing the future.”

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Now's the Time: The Hot Sardines

The Hot Sardines return to the Folly Theater on Friday, March 9.  The New York based hot jazz group first performed at the venue in 2015.  Last year, the Hot Sardines served as a headlining act at the ill-fated Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival.  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar lists 19 additional jazz gigs in the area on Friday.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Kansas City Business Journal reports on an initiative intended to make the Jazz District more accommodating to new businesses.

*Joe Klopus interviewed members of the Hot Sardines in a preview of the band’s March 9 concert at the Folly Theater.

*The Kansas City Star follows up on the Zhou Brothers investment in the Jazz District.

*Sharon Valleau informed Plastic Sax that “Carol Comer is scheduled to be honored at the Blue Room on Monday, March 12th.”

*High school student Evan Kappelman was named a member of the Bands of America National Jazz Band.

*Jerry McEvoy lobbies for new jazz venues in the Jazz District in a letter published by The Kansas City Star.

*Jon Batiste’s March 9 concert at the Madrid Theatre has been canceled due to “scheduling issues.”

*Tweet o’ the Week: KC Library- The next listening party with @KCJazzOrch is March 12 at Central Library. (link).

*Comment o’ the Week: Christopher Burnett- Hear, hear! I must be slipping (to slightly relentless...) because I missed this post entirely.

*From a press release: Special guests Clay Jenkins and Gilbert Castellanos will headline the KU School of Music’s 41st Jazz Festival held on Friday, March 2 and Saturday, March 3. The festival will include evening concerts on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Woodruff Auditorium at the Kansas Union… Following the evening concerts, the music continues with After Hours Jazz Sessions hosted by the Matt Otto Quintet and featuring special guests.

*From a press release: Women have always played and continue to play a significant role in developing Jazz music… The American Jazz Museum takes pride in shining the light for their tremendous contributions to the music by paying tribute through the presentation, Women in Jazz 2018. Also, it honors them by collecting items that chronicle their lives and careers the Women in Jazz Collection... Women in Jazz 2018 will present performances in the Blue Room featuring local, regional, and national female artists. All month long, musicians will present innovative performances and selections that showcase the contributions of women to the jazz genre. Sunday, March 18th at 4:00 pm we will present a concert Women in Jazz 2018: Woman’s World featuring Deborah Brown, Marlene Rosenberg, Pam Watson, and Argarita Palavicini.

*From a press release: The American Jazz Museum together with Kansas City’s own renowned Jazz artist Deborah Brown is launching an initiative to showcase Kansas City Jazz and artists Internationally… Jazz from Kansas City with Love: The Cradle of Swing and Bebop promotes and showcases Kansas City… We are thrilled to announce that Jazz from Kansas City with Love will launch in Szczecin, Poland at the Szczecin Jazz 2018 Festival... The Festival takes place the first week of March with performances by Deborah Brown and Hermon Mehari on March 5… These artists will also be performing in other jazz clubs across Poland and Germany throughout the week.

*From a press release: “Women in Jazz” will be featured in two free events at Johnson County Community College (JCCC) on Wednesday, March 28: 12 p.m. – Carolyn Glenn-Brewer will give an illustrated talk on the history of women in jazz. 5:30 p.m. – The documentary film “The Girls in the Band” will be shown.  Both events will be held in the CoLab, room 100, located in the OCB building on JCCC’s Campus.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Tuned In and Turned On

I quit playing the online trivia contest HQ.  Rarely making it past the seventh round frustrated me.  I’ve switched to a more gratifying game.  When I tune in to Green Lady Radio through my computer or phone, I attempt to identify each artist before checking the screen.  I win even when I guess incorrectly.

The playlist of Green Lady Radio reflects the mainstream sound that dominates Kansas City’s jazz scene as it mirrors the music that’s performed at Green Lady Lounge and Black Dolphin.  The free streaming service is uncomplicated.  There’s no skipping or fast-forwarding options.  Every listener experiences the same music at the same time.

Hearing tracks outside of the album context leads to revelations.  I’ve gained new appreciation for Paul Shinn’s compositional craftsmanship, Clint Ashlock’s clarion trumpet work and Chris Burnett’s tart tone.  A certain pianist pops up so frequently that the service could be dubbed Roger Wilder radio.

As at Black Dolphin and Green Lady Lounge, there’s little room for avant-garde freak-outs or noisy experiments.  Matt Otto and Steve Cardenas are responsible for Green Lady Radio’s wooliest moments.  While HQ bestows cash prizes to winners, Green Lady Radio doesn’t offer a financial incentive.  Listening is its own reward.

(Screenshot of Green Lady Radio's mobile app by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Now's the Time: Jo Ann Daugherty

Jo Ann Daugherty will contribute to The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra’s “Lady Be Good: Celebrating Women In Jazz” concert at Helzberg Hall on Friday, March 9.  She demonstrates her talents as a pianist and bandleader in the embedded footage from last year’s Chicago Jazz Festival. The Kansas City Jazz Calendar lists about 20 additional gigs that day.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Marcus Lewis is a recipient of a 2018 Generative Performing Artist Award from the Charlotte Street Foundation.

*Bill Frisell, Thomas Morgan and Rudy Royston will perform at the 1900 Building on April 8.  Tickets are available here.

*Share Valleau objects to the tone of an editorial about the Jazz District published by The Kansas City Star.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Pat Metheny News- A new Japanese book called 'Listen to Pat Metheny 1974->2017' will come out 03/07/2018 (thnksM)

*From a press release: The American Jazz Museum, in partnership with Kansas City Public Library and The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, announces its first ever Jazz Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon, which takes place on Monday, March 5, from 3:00 to 7:00 pm in the Atrium of the American Jazz Museum. The goal of this event is to create and edit articles which preserve Kansas City jazz history, from local musicians, to historic jazz clubs in the 18th & Vine and the 12th & Vine districts, to the community leaders whose legacies continue to live on.

*From a press release: Steve Cardenas' “Charlie and Paul” kicks off Newvelle Records' Third Season. The recording is a deeply personal statement about his long standing band mates Charlie Haden and Paul Motian… Newvelle Records releases music exclusively on vinyl and in six record box sets. Members subscribe to a season and receive one record every two months over the course of a year.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Album Review: Logan Richardson- Blues People

Logan Richardson seems to be spoiling for a fight on his confrontational new album Blues People.  Listeners are forced to choose a side.  While I don’t embrace every element of the divisive project, I’ve had the saxophonist’s back for years.

I pegged Richardson for renown when he began dazzling me with his unconventional vision on Kansas City stages about ten years ago.  He fulfilled much of that promise on the 2016 album Shift.  The critically heralded Blue Note Records title placed him with an all-star band consisting of guitarist Pat Metheny, keyboardist Jason Moran, bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Nasheet Waits.

Blues People will be released by the scrappy indie label Ropeadope on April 13.  Richardson literally doubles down on electric guitar on the album.  Kansas City’s Justus West and the Ukrainian guitarist Igor Osypov supplant Metheny on the instrument.  Along with bassist DeAndre Manning and drummer Ryan Lee, fixtures on the Kansas City scene, the men evoke rock-oriented artists like Jimi Hendrix, James “Blood” Ulmer and Living Colour on abrasive tracks including “Underground,” “Rebels Rise” and “With You.”

Screaming electric guitars are just one of many sounds on the eclectic 66-minute statement.  “80s Kid” is true to its title.  An electrifying Reagan-era throwback, the song could have been used as dramatic entrance music at Prince concerts.  “Country Boy” is a Moby-esque country blues remix.  The muscular “Change” would fit comfortably on a playlist between tracks by Kendrick Lamar and Twenty One Pilots.

The brash “Anthem (To Human Justice),” the album’s pivotal track, suggests that Richardson merits a seat at the same table as contemporary hitmakers.  The track revolves around Richardson’s pleading saxophone, the unifying element that bonds the disparate sounds of Blues People.  Many will ask, “that’s all well and good, but is it jazz?”  Audacious improvisation that synthesizes a vast swathe of American music, Blues People is precisely what culturally relevant  jazz should sound like in 2018.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Now's the Time: Marbin

The members of the  jazz-rock band Marbin are committed road warriors.  The itinerant Chicago based band regularly visits Kansas City.  Marbin will showcase material from its forthcoming album Israeli Jazz on Monday, February 26, at Californos.  The comprehensive Kansas City Jazz Calendar lists hundreds of additional performances.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Dave Helling considers potential liquor licensing changes in the Jazz District for The Kansas City Star.

*Plaza III, a venerable steakhouse that has long hosted jazz performances, will close next month.

*Joe Klopus spoke to Josh Nelson ahead of the pianist’s return visit to the Kansas City area.

*Organizers of the Jazz in the Woods festival reiterated previous reports that this year’s event has been canceled.

*Alex Anderson reviewed an appearance by David Amram.

*Béla Fleck & the Flecktones will perform at the Uptown Theater on July 9.

*Harold O’Neal created a four-minute video highlight reel.

*Tweet o’ the Week: KC Jazz Orchestra- Always brewing ideas for upcoming concerts - what sorts of music would you like to hear us do? #kcjazz

*Comment o’ the Week: Darrel McKaig- The bassist, Tamir, was my favorite accompanist. While he was highlighted during the duet with Cyrille, his playing throughout was impeccable.

*From a press release: Mikeyy Austin will join the new project from Eddie Moore, We The People, for his Kansas City debut.  Mikeyy is a young up and coming MC out of Lansing Michigan… We The People is a Power Trio plus one with Eddie Moore on piano, Dominique Sanders on bass, Zach Morrow on drums, and Leonard Dstroy on  Turntable/Aux percussion... this fusion group brings Prog Rock, Soul, Funk, and Hiphop together in a unique way that is spread over a bed on improvisation. 7 p.m. March 8, at RecordBar. $8.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Concert Review: Cyrille Aimée at the Folly Theater

Cyrille Aimée won over a skeptical audience of about 300 at the Folly Theater on Friday.  Even though the French vocalist has been receiving rave reviews for a decade, she’s still relatively unknown in Kansas City.

I became convinced that my $20 ticket was a solid investment during the fourth selection.  A ravishing interpretation of the Dominican icon Juan Luis Guerra’s “Estrellitas y Duende” made me realize that while her petite voice is as small as a hummingbird, Aimée’s instrument possesses the spectacular beauty, speed and fearlessness associated with the tiny creatures.

The trumpet and vocal flourishes Wayne Tucker added to most songs were delightful, but the versatile pianist Hila Kulik was clearly the audience’s favorite accompanist.  Bassist Tamir Shmerling and drummer Dani Danor added dynamic support on a setlist that included striking original compositions, Adler and Ross’ "Whatever Lola Wants," Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” and Lerner and Loewe’s “I Could Have Danced All Night.”

Aimée did, in fact, dance all night.  And she never stopped smiling.  Her ebullience was merited.  The creative quintet’s imaginative approach combined a clear adoration of jazz tradition with healthy irreverence.  Exasperated by a couple false starts on a looping device during a solo segment, Aimée endearingly sighed that “it’s all part of the show.” 

Aimée’s self-deprecating humor, effervescent spirit and boundless talent secured her show placement on short lists of the musical highlights of 2018.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Now's the Time: Izabel Crane

Izabel Crane, a band from Springfield, Missouri, references Billie Holiday and Django Reinhardt as it characterizes its sound as Ozark jazz.  While I hear a lot more Bill Monroe than Charlie Parker, I’m inclined to like the ostensible hybrid.  Izabel Crane performs in the Gospel Lounge at Knuckleheads on Thursday, February 22.  Dozens of more conventional jazz bookings are posted at the Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Stan Kessler is the subject of a five-minute feature created for KCUR.

*Jessie Riggins lauded the Kansas City’s Symphony’s collaboration with jazz musicians.

*UMKC’s student newspaper published a review of Lonnie McFadden’s new album.

*Joe Klopus previewed Cyrille Aimée’s concert at the Folly Theater for The Kansas City Star.

*Rod Fleeman was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*CJ Janovy deciphered the unusual circumstances of a jazz poster party.

*David Amram discussed his career with Steve Kraske on KCUR.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Rick Hellman- What a joy to hear @happyinbag give #kcjazz keeper of the flame Stan Kessler his due on @kcur!

*From a press release: Kansas City Jazz Alive… is proud to announce Musicians Assisting Musicians 101- The Business of Jazz, an educational workshop for jazz musicians in the Kansas City region. The workshop will take place… on April 21, 2018 from 8am – 1pm at Black Dolphin.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Focus on Sanity

There was no chance I would miss the discussion of Ornette Coleman’s groundbreaking 1958 album The Shape of Jazz to Come last Monday at the Lucile H. Bluford Branch of the Kansas City Public Library.  I was so giddy about the recondite event that I arrived an hour early.  While I couldn’t persuade the library’s two security guards or the disorderly vagrants they were minding to attend the seminar, my enthusiasm was shared by a handful of attendees at the listening party sponsored by The Kansas Jazz Orchestra.

John Kizilarmut, the passionate and knowledgeable moderator, set the tone for his presentation by playing a polarizing track by Mostly Other People Do the Killing.  In addition to providing context for The Shape of Jazz to Come, Kizilarmut shared a photo that his research led him to believe acted as the inspiration for the album’s lead track “Lonely Woman.” 

The small class listened to the first side of the album in reverent silence.  After Kizilarmut added additional insights, a loudmouth blogger instigated debates as the second side played.  Clint Ashlock, the Artistic Director of the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, will analyze Maria Schneider’s Evanescence at the Central Library on March 12.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, February 9, 2018

Now's the Time: Cyrille Aimée

“Do what you want to do, there ain't no rules- it's up to you.”  I wish more jazz-oriented musicians heeded the message of Michael Jackson’s hit.  Cyrille Aimée’s willingness to defy convention has helped make her one of the most intriguing artists currently bridging the divide between jazz and popular music.  The French vocalist will explore “the madness in the music” at the Folly Theater on Saturday, February 17.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*John Scott of the Green Lady Lounge and Deborah Brown, Chuck Haddix and Bobby Watson were guests on KCUR’s Up to Date on Monday and Tuesday.

*Clint Ashlock discussed an upcoming concert by the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra on KCUR’s Central Standard.

*Bram Wijnands chatted with Joe Dimino.

*Giovanni Russonello of The New York Times praised an outing by the Logan Richardson Quartet.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Ryan Hennessey- My favorite Jazz has some funk in the sound. Good segment. I was at the Green Lady on Saturday. Always a good time. Anxious to try the Black Dolphin.

*From a press release: ‘Ask a Jazz Dude’, a live talk show/vlog presented by KKFI 90.1 FM and Marcus Lewis, where Marcus and selected guests answer questions about music, performing, the music business, social media, and pop culture, will take viewers on the bandstand and backstage into the mind of working musicians and creators.  The Facebook Live format gives viewers an easy way to interact with Marcus and his guests and ask questions in real time.  ‘Ask a Jazz Dude’ kicked off February 5 and can be found at Mondays at noon. 

*From a press release: Jazz vocalist Kathleen Holeman and her band will perform on Sunday evening, February 11, 6:00 pm at Kansas City Jazz Vespers, held at the historic First Baptist Church of Kansas  City...  KC Jazz Vespers features 100 minutes of professional jazz in two acts… There is no entry charge though a free-will offering is taken. 

*From a press release: The American Jazz Museum is expanding its Kansas City Jazz Academy by launching a partnership with the Charlie Parker Memorial Foundation’s Kansas City Arts Outreach, an established music education program with mission similar to that of the Museum’s Jazz Academy...  The Kansas City Jazz Academy (KCJA), the museum’s most comprehensive music education program, completed its first year in May 2017. The program was successful in bringing 150 K-12 students together every Saturday for hands-on classes in Big Band, Combos, Improvisation, and more… Beginning in 2018, KCJA will be led by Mr. Clarence Smith

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Concert Review: Ryan Keberle & Catharsis at Black Dolphin

A stunning recital of compositions that bandleader Ryan Keberle characterized as protest songs at Black Dolphin on Wednesday was the easily best thing I heard in January.  Without compromising the music’s integrity, his quintet Catharsis artfully melded jazz with indie-rock, folk and Música Popular Brasileira.

The trombonist and pianist noted his enthusiasm for the jazz revolutionary Ornette Coleman, the Brooklyn indie-rock duo the Welcome Wagon and the Brazilian icons Ivan Lins and Elis Regina, but his band’s intricately arranged chamber jazz put me in mind of Wayne Shorter’s classic 1975 album Native Dancer.

Catharsis consists of New York based ringers.  Saxophonist John Ellis, bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Eric Doob are first-call heavyweights.  Even so, Camila Meza’s star shone brightest.  The Chilean native’s vocals were ravishing while her stellar guitar work earned vigorous applause.

Only about 20 people attended each set, but the meager audience was dominated by musicians.  The galvanizing show is likely to inspire inventive new sounds on Kansas City’s jazz scene in the months and years to come.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, February 2, 2018

Now's the Time: Stephen Martin

Stephen Martin is poised to become the next graduate of UMKC’s Conservatory of Music & Dance to make a big splash on Kansas City’s jazz scene.  The saxophonist and bandleader mans the late shift at Green Lady Lounge on Saturday, February 3.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Marilyn Maye was featured in an eight-minute segment on CBS Sunday Morning.

*A travel writer for The New York Times noted Kansas City’s “City of Music” designation by UNESCO .

*Deborah Brown chatted with Steve Kraske on Up to Date.  Jessie Riggins reviewed Brown’s concert at Polsky Theatre.

*Jon Batiste, the musician caught up in the American Jazz Museum’s $18,000 flight scandal, will perform at the Madrid Theatre on March 9.

*Ben Allison, Jeremy Pelt, Steve Cardenas and Allan Mednard will perform at the 1900 Building on April 7.

*Lonnie McFadden was featured on KCUR’s Up to Date.

*A blogger ponders George Gershwin’s 1934 appearance in Kansas City.  (Via Tony’s Kansas City.)

*William Hughes, a longtime member of the Count Basie Orchestra, died earlier this month.

*Marc Myers saluted the Basie-ites.

*Tweet o’ the Week: UMKC Conservatory- We’re down at the historic #Gem, celebrating jazz, dance, and #JosephineBaker! #dance #UMKCDance @UMKansasCity @americanjazzkc (photo)

*From a press release: Logan Richardson returns to Kansas City for his fourth studio album… Blues People.  Recorded in Omaha and mixed in KC, the album features local musicians Ryan Lee on drums, DeAndre Manning on bass, Justus West on guitar, and the Berlin based, Ukrainian guitar player Igor Osypov.  Blues People begins with an assault on the senses – heavy guitar sets the tone... If you were hoping for a nice Jazz lounge evening sipping brandy, you are immediately informed that this will not be the case.  The album will be released March 2 on Ropeadope.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Ask Me If I Give a Schnitt

Curious about what happens when a stride pianist entertains day-drinkers, I dropped into KC Bier Co. to catch Bram Wijnands today.  The native of the Netherlands plays at the establishment every Saturday and Sunday afternoon.  I should have seen it coming, but I was nonetheless surprised to discover that Wijnands began his outing for more than three dozen revelers with 30 minutes of traditional German beer hall accordion music.  I found his efforts far more compelling than the action on the muted televisions displaying sports broadcasts.  When he turned his attention to a vintage upright piano to play the burly swing that made his reputation, Wijnands was joined by a man on spoons who evoked the artful percussion of an agile tap dancer. 

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Now's the Time: Ryan Keberle & Catharsis

The increasingly adventurous bookings at Black Dolphin are a welcome addition to Kansas City’s live music scene.  The New York based ensemble Ryan Keberle & Catharsis perform at the gold-curtained venue on Wednesday, January 31.  Jazz fans will attend to hear the trombonist who’s worked with Maria Schneider and Miguel Zenón.  Curious pop aficionados will be on hand to see why Keberle is a hired gun for the likes of Sufjan Stevens and Justin Timberlake.  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar lists dozens of additional choices next week.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Diana Krall will perform at Muriel Kauffman Theatre on June 16.

*The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra will entertain at the free A Night at the Savoy celebration at the main branch of the Kansas City Kansas Public Library.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Ryan Heinlein- Record number 4 comes out in exactly two months!

*From a press release: The Marcus Lewis Big Band will present “Brass & Boujee”, at The Record Bar, February 1, 2018 at 7:00 PM, $8 cover charge. The collaborative performance will combine hip hop and big band jazz sounds. Marcus Lewis, a trombonist who has performed with stars such as Aretha Franklin and Janelle Monae, will be presenting full jazz band arrangements of original songs from Kansas City emcees Kemet The Phantom and Kadesh Flow.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Concert Review: Sons of Brasil at First Baptist Church

A pool of water had formed at my feet by the time the sermon began during the intermission of a Sons of Brasil concert at First Baptist Church on Sunday, January, 14.  The clinging ice and snow that I tracked in to the free Jazz Vespers event melted during a radiant set that included arrangements of classic compositions by the likes of Johnny Alf, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Gilberto Gil.  The sunny music of the pared-down quartet of trumpeter Stan Kessler, guitarist Danny Embrey, bassist Greg Whitfield and drummer Doug Auwarter neutralized the chill for about 75 hardy spectators on the frigid evening.  Having attended many performances by the Kansas City institution, I know that the spellbinding sound of Sons of Brasil is just as capable of transporting a sweltering audience at an outdoor concert in July to a temperate tropical beach.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Now's the Time: Michael Manring

Todd Mosby will lead a band at Polsky Theatre on Saturday, January 20.  Yet Michael Manring, the bassist in the guitarist’s band, may be the most renowned musician on the stage at Johnson County Community College.  Manring was one of the most stimulating components of the distinctive 1980s sound of the new age powerhouse Windham Hill Records.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*A promotional video for KC Jazz Alive suggests that “Kansas City is on its way to becoming the next major music city in America and retaking its title as jazz capital of the world.”

*Joe Klopus previewed Marcus Roberts’ concert at the Folly Theater.  Steve Kraske interviewed the pianist.

*Deborah Brown and Matt Otto were featured in an hour-long episode of KCUR’s Up to Date titled “From Kansas City And Beyond, The Best Music Of 2017”.

*Tweet o’ the Week: St. Louis Jazz Notes- St. Louis jazz pianist Nathan Jatcko has been missing since late Thursday night. Family is asking anyone with info on his whereabouts to contact St. Louis city PD: (link)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Album Review: Lonnie McFadden- Live at Green Lady Lounge

Lonnie McFadden’s Live at Green Lady Lounge will immediately become the most indispensable souvenir for visitors to Kansas City when it’s released later this year.  The recording- a winning blend of cornball shenanigans and refined artfulness- captures the festive atmosphere at a raucous Kansas City jazz club.

McFadden has long been admired as the trumpet playing component of the Las Vegas-style duo The McFadden Brothers.  He acknowledges his act’s association with Wayne Newton in the introduction to “What a Wonderful World,” but the album’s occasional bouts of acute sentimentality are balanced by fiery straight-ahead jazz. 

“In the Club” is a funky instrumental co-written by McFadden and bassist DeAndre Manning.  “Voyager” is a fiery showcase for pianist Andrew Ouellette.  Drummer Tyree Johnson rounds out the outstanding young band that motivates McFadden to apply his often underutilized jazz chops.

By the time he breaks into his signature tap dancing on the final selection of the 67-minute album, McFadden has convincingly demonstrated that he’s more than an outstanding entertainer.  Live at Green Lady proves that McFadden is a bona fide Kansas City jazz cat.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Now's the Time: The Marcus Roberts Trio

Marcus Roberts, a refined pianist who rose to fame as a member of Wynton Marsalis’ band, has been a foremost jazz formalist for more than 30 years.  He’ll lead a trio at the Folly Theater on Friday, January 19.  According to the concert program, Roberts will be joined by bassist Rodney Jordan and drummer Bryan Carter.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Chris Burnett’s monthly engagement at Black Dolphin was spotlighted on KCUR.

*Matt Kane and Charles Williams were interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*Bloggers document their visit to the American Jazz Museum.

*Tweet o’ the Week: KC Jazz Orchestra- Nice turnout at our #listeningparty at @WestportLibrary in @Westport_KC - Sam Wisman is guiding us through Thad Jones/Mel Lewis’ “Consummation.” We have one of these per month! #kcjazz #kcjazzorchestra

*The 11 jazz performances listed on the comprehensive Kansas City Jazz Calendar range from solo piano gigs to noisy barrage of percussion.

*From a press release: Kansas City Jazz Vespers features "The Sons of Brasil," led by Stan Kessler, on Sunday, January 14, 6:00 - 8:00 pm held at the First Baptist Church of Kansas City, MO at the corner of Wornall Road and Red Bridge Road in south Kansas City.  Its 100 minutes of professional jazz in a concert setting.   The Sons of Brasil are one of the region's best Latin jazz groups, performing all over the city.  KC Jazz  Vespers is free and open to the public.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Album Review: Danny Embrey- Dues Blues

Bob Bowman’s solo on a ballad on Danny Embrey’s Dues Blues is as life-affirming as a poem by Maya Angelou.  The bassist’s concise statement on “November” is one of many standout moments on the welcome reissue of the guitarist’s 1988 recording with Bowman, keyboardists John Beasley and Dave Loeb and drummer Steve Houghton.

A former member of the bands of Sergio Mendes and Karrin Allyson, Embrey is one of a handful of unassuming veteran Kansas City musicians who nonchalantly improve the quality of a handful gigs every week.

Dues Blues acts as a reminder that Embrey shouldn’t be taken for granted.  Not only does his impeccable playing honor the legacy of guitar masters such as Jim Hall and Kenny Burrell, Embrey flashes strong melodic skills on impressive original compositions like “Caraveles” and “Leonard.”

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Now's the Time: The Sextet

In his recommendation of the jazz-oriented band’s show at the Ship on Saturday, January 6, a writer for The Kansas City Star suggests that The Sextet tends to “split the difference between righteous jams and venerable swing.”  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar lists dozens of additional options for the weekend.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Jessie Riggins highlights a few forthcoming concerts in a spring survey for KC Metropolis.

*A handful of jazz-related entries are among a compilation of
best of 2017 lists from 20 KC music influencers.

*Dean Minderman of St. Louis Jazz Notes compiled dozens of “Best Jazz of 2017” lists.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Green Lady Lounge- Green Lady @GreenLadyLounge  has launched  streaming directly licensed, original jazz compositions by today's Kansas City jazz musicians. Special thanks to our sponsor - Ambassador Hotel 1111 Grand Blvd Kansas City MO. Listen now at

*Comment o’ the Week: Christopher Burnett- ...1. We need several (5-10) truly professional artist management and booking agencies here to work with/career develop the 50 or so artists, who are objectively at a national level talent-wise. 2. We need several (5-10) truly publicists and public relations professionals here to work with/career develop the 50 or so artists, who are objectively at a national level talent-wise. 3. You, Joe and Larry (at least), should also be publishing items in DownBeat, Jazz Times, Jazziz, etc. along with your normal local beats. That would put us on the map big time.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)