Sunday, August 12, 2018

All the Things You Are: A Selective Guide to the 2018 Charlie Parker Celebration

The annual Charlie Parker Celebration begins this week.  The initiative of a handful of altruistic civic boosters may lack the star power and crowd sizes associated with New York City’s Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, but the ambitious endeavor merits the support of anyone with even a passing interest in one of Kansas City’s most important sons.  I’ve highlighted five particularly promising Charlie Parker Celebration events to provide a sense of the scope of the offerings.

1. Chasing Bird: The Impact of Kansas City Music Genius Charles “Yardbird” Parker
Thursday, August 16, at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
People who enjoy talking about Parker more than actually listening to his music will be at home at this forum.

2. Sunday in the Park
Sunday, August 19, at Ironwoods Park
David Basse will be joined by musicians including artists-in-residence Lonnie McFadden and Tivon Pennicott at a lovely picnic-oriented setting deep in the heart of suburban Johnson County.

3. Dominique Sanders, Ernest Melton, Ryan Lee and Tivon Pennicott
Thursday, August 23, at the Ship
The West Bottoms setting is ideal for anyone seeking an ostensibly “authentic” evocation of the atmosphere at a Kansas City jazz club 70 years ago.

4. Kansas City Jazz History Tour
Saturday, August 25, at the American Jazz Museum
Anyone with an ounce of civic pride should take this tour at least once.  Plastic Sax documented the trek in 2014.

5. Lonnie McFadden presents Charlie Parker: Past, Present & Future
Saturday, August 25, at the Gem Theater
Bobby Watson and Pennicott are among the musicians featured in the signature concert of the Charlie Parker Celebration.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Now's the Time: Tivon Pennicott

The annual Charlie Parker Celebration begins in the Kansas City area next week.  As in past years, the bold New York based saxophonist Tivon Pennicott is an artist-in-residence.  Details are available at the event’s site.  All of the area’s jazz performances are listed at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*A blogger reports that more than 5,000 people attended a R&B oldies concert in the Jazz District on Saturday on the same site that struggled to draw 500 people for jazz notables like Chick Corea at the American Jazz Museum’s ill-fated Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival last year.

*One of Pat Metheny’s appearances at the Newport Jazz Festival elicited an ecstatic review from a critic for Rolling Stone.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Fox 4 News- Six hurt in Jazz District shooting (story)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Album Review: The Myers Swingset- The Instrumental One

Ahmad Jamal’s 1968 album Tranquility is loaded with nebulous soul-jazz grooves.  The Myers Swingset’s congruent The Instrumental One could be have been titled Wooziness.  The subdued set recorded at Green Lady Lounge resembles the soundtrack of an alcohol-abetted dream about an unhinged evening of bar-hopping at area jazz clubs.  The playing of Jackie Myers, the keyboardist who leads the hazy session that features guitarist Danny Embrey, bassist Eddie Criswell and drummer Daniel Hogans, often sounds as if Jamal had been consigned to a permanent residency in an opium den.  The Instrumental One isn’t the year’s best Kansas City jazz album, but it’s likely to be the strangest.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Now's the Time: The No BS! Brass Band

Anyone seeking a respite from the summer doldrums or in need of a jolt of undiluted joy need only hit the Riot Room on Tuesday, Aug. 7.  The Virginia based No BS! Brass Band blends the jazz-rooted sound of New Orleans brass bands with Washington D.C.-style go-go funk.  More than a dozen additional options on Tuesday are listed at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The 2019-19 season of the Topeka Jazz Concert Series has been unveiled.  The roster of locally based and touring acts includes Stan Kessler and Katie Thiroux.

*CityScene KC reports that YJ’s Snack Bar, an establishment that’s long hosted weekly jazz performances, will soon reopen at 1746 Washington.

*The Count Basie Orchestra’s All About That Basie will be released on September 7.  The album includes guest appearances by Stevie Wonder, Kurt Elling and Take 6.

*Tweet o’ the Week: 18VineKC- Join us this First Friday for “A Yardbird Homecoming” exhibit: A Yardbird Homecoming featuring the life of the little kid Charlie Parker, his hard times, his friends, his revolutionary jazz music and the exhibition of the complete Dial Record Collection (Jazz to Classical).

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

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Grading the 2018-19 Folly Season

Familiarity breeds contempt.  Six of the seven artists featured in the 2018-19 season of the Folly Jazz Series have already appeared in Kansas City at least once in the last five years.  The exception is the Yellowjackets, a group that performed at the Folly Theater three times in the previous decade.

Given the vast universe of thrilling talent, it’s frustrating that area jazz promoters tend to limit their bookings to a short list of two dozen acts.  The repetition is made even more painful by the struggles of the American Jazz Museum.  The institution’s concerts at the Gem Theater seem to be a thing of the past.

There’s a reason for the repetition.  The cautious nature of the  jazz offerings for the Folly Theater’s 36th season increases the likelihood of a 37th season.  My dream lineup consisting of the likes of Lakecia Benjamin, Mary Halvorson, Dave Holland, Shabaka Hutchings, Charles Lloyd, Pat Metheny and Matthew Shipp might bankrupt the series.  I’ve made every effort not to let my disappointment in who’s not playing unfairly impact the grades of the actual bookings.

Ramsey Lewis and Urban Knights
September 27
Ramsey Lewis has done it all in an audacious career of more than sixty years.  He’s a master of bop, pop, soul-jazz and funk.  The octogenarian will be joined by guitarist Henry Johnson, keyboardist Tim Gant, bassist Joshua Ramos and drummer Charles Heath during his third concert in Kansas City in 21 months.
Grade: A

Larry Carlton Quintet
October 12
Every committed Steely Dan enthusiast is familiar with Larry Carlton’s distinctive guitar work.  His impeccable playing will be supported by saxophonist Bob Reynolds, keyboardist Mark Stevens, drummer Gary Novak and Carlton's son Travis on bass.
Grade: C

The Yellowjackets
January 18
The audience for smooth jazz in Kansas City remains substantial.  The four aces in The Yellowjackets are likely to draw a healthy crowd.

Kandace Springs
February 15
Nancy Wilson, 81, doesn’t get around much anymore.  Kandace Springs has filled the void.  She’s carved out a similarly elegant space in the realm of supper club soul. 
Grade: B+

Kurt Elling Quintet
March 9
Kurt Elling is the preeminent jazz vocalist of the new millennium.
Grade: A

Joshua Redman Quartet
April 11
Joshua Redman’s Still Dreaming, an homage to his father Dewey Redman’s collaboration with Ornette Coleman, is one of the most engaging jazz albums of 2018.  Alas, the saxophonist isn’t bringing the left-of-center musicians featured on the project to the Folly.  Instead, he’ll be accompanied by the sublime trio of pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Gregory Hutchinson.
Grade: A-

Arturo Sandoval
April 27
The respect commanded by the storied Cuban defector Arturo Sandoval is reflected by the presence of Alejandro Sanz, Pharrell Williams, Ariana Grande and Josh Groban on the trumpeter's latest album.
Grade: B

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Now's the Time: The Music of Bennie Moten

The Jackson County Historical Society, the Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors and the Mutual Musicians Foundation are hosting an event billed as Bennie, Basie, and Bird: An Evening of KC Jazz at the Foundation on Saturday, July 28.   While “live performances with original and contemporary arrangements of their classics” are promised, details on precisely who will be interpreting the music of Bennie Moten, Count Basie and Charlie Parker aren’t available.  Perhaps my skepticism makes me an insolent heretic, but I don’t intend to fork over the $35 price of admission until I know which musicians are participating.  A multitude of other options are listed at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joe Klopus scrutinizes the 2018-19 season of the Folly Theater’s jazz series for The Kansas City Star.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Carl Kincaid- Celebrating some of my favorite KC musicians in my favorite KC band at my favorite KC club. Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo Seven’s new record “The Basement Beat” Release Party in the Black Dolphin Room at Kansas City’s legendary Green Lady Lounge. Check Sunflower Soul Records! (photos)

*From a press release: Lonnie McFadden presents "Charlie Parker - Past, Present & Future" starring Bobby Watson, Tivon Pennicott and Ronald McFadden. Saturday, August 25; Gem Theater. Lonnie has produced an incredible, high energy evening of song and dance with a strong group of some of the very best jazz musicians Kansas City has to offer. The show honors Charlie “Yardbird” Parker... Mr. Kansas City himself, Lonnie McFadden, has created a show that will have you on your feet and celebrating the music and stories of Kansas City's own jazz legend, Charlie "Yardbird" Parker.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Album Review: Chris Hazelton's Boogaloo 7- The Basement Beat

I mumbled something about New York, Puerto Rico, salsa, soul and the 1960s when Steve Kraske asked me to define boogaloo in an on-air discussion about Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7’s The Basement Beat on KCUR’s Up to Date program three weeks ago.  I cited Cardi B’s current boogaloo-based hit “I Like It” as a relevant entry point for curious listeners.  Vibrant The Basement Beat selections including the celebratory boogaloo “Tru-Galú” and soul-jazz workouts like “Fryin’ Pan” may be several production tweaks removed from the rapper’s summer smash, but they’re every bit as fun as “I Like It.”  Hazelton’s band hosts an album release show at the Black Dolphin on Sunday, July 22.

(Original image captured on the Brooklyn Bridge by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Now's the Time: Kandace Springs at the Sprint Center

Unsuspecting pop fans are in for a treat at the Sprint Center on Friday, July 20.  Punctual devotees of Hall & Oates and Train will take in an opening set by Kandace Springs.  The elegant artist working in the tradition of Nancy Wilson will return to Kansas City on February 15 for a headlining concert at the Folly Theater.  Both bookings are listed on The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*An event billed as A Yardbird Homecoming is slated for Friday, August 3.  A complete collection of the Dial Records catalog amassed by DeBorah "Dee" Williams will be displayed in the atrium of the American Jazz Museum.  Williams, Jayne McShann and Jermaine Reed will speak.  Jason Goudeau’s Little Big Band will perform.

*The Marcus Lewis Big Band created a music video for “All Day”.

*Stephen Martin was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*The editorial board of The Kansas City Star questions why “Kansas City is striding boldly back into the concert game” after the financial debacle that followed last year’s Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival.

*Details about next month’s Charlie Parker Celebration continue to be added to the event’s site.

*Tim Whitmer & the KC Express, the Wild Women of Kansas City, B.M.W. and J Love provide the jazz component of the ninth annual Phoenix Fest at The Phoenix on Saturday, July 28.

*The Kansas City Star reports that the Wheatley-Provident hospital building in the Jazz District is slated for renovation.

*The 2018 edition of New York’s annual Charlie Parker Festival includes performances by Charles Tolliver, Gary Bartz, the Bad Plus and Catherine Russell.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Terra Brister- “Yes the community is safe, it’s the people that come into the community that are not safe!” -Jazz Museum, Kansas City

*From a press release: KC Area Youth Jazz is pleased to announce the addition of Media Relations Expert and Kansas City area Radio and Television Personality, Joel Nichols as an official Spokesperson, Concert Emcee, and Media Consultant.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Concert Review: Henrique Eisenmann and Ehud Ettun at the 1900 Building

Members of an audience of about 70 laughed as if Henrique Eisenmann had delivered the punchline of an implausible joke when the pianist explained that he and bassist Ehud Ettun were performing Israeli jazz at the 1900 Building on Saturday, July 7.  There was nothing comical about the exquisite 90-minute performance by the Brazilian born, New York based Eisenmann and the Israeli bassist Ettun.  Although I paid $25 to enter, the recital had all the trappings of a private event.

In addition to resonant echoes of Ettun’s home in Jerusalem, the show included impeccable interpretations of material by the Brazilian icons Milton Nascimento and Hermeto Pascoal and the American bassist Steve Swallow.  Eisenmann also attempted to translate the sound of the African mbira to piano on the percussive “Afro-Latidos.”  The show included two demonstrations of what is either a nifty parlor trick or the inception of a vital new genre when Eisenmann added composed melodies to recordings of poems recited by a Peruvian child and an Israeli poet.

Gasps of horror filled the room when Eisenmann disclosed that he’d spent much of the past year battling cancer.  He indicated that he was optimistic about the outcome.  His family, friends and the extended jazz community need him.  Liberated from the mandate to perpetually swing, he and Ettun are forging vital new sounds. 

Aside from three people I recognized as regulars at Kansas City jazz performances, no one in the room probably had any way of knowing that Israeli jazz is- as Eisenmann put it after the concept was openly mocked- “a thing.”  In fact, my favorite performances of improvised music in 2018 have been rendered by a group led by the Israeli clarinetist Anat Cohen at the Gem Theater (Plastic Sax review), a quartet fronted by the Israeli pianist Uriel Hermann at Black Dolphin
(Plastic Sax review), and now, Henrique Eisenmann and Ehud Ettun at the 1900 Building.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Now's the Time: For Now

For Now proves that there’s plenty more where Snarky Puppy came from.  Like the celebrated arty jazz-pop ensemble Snarky Puppy, For Now is a product of the music program at the University of North Texas in Denton.  Composer and vocalist Isabel Crespo takes the lead in the embedded For Now video.  Her band performs at Black Dolphin on Friday, July 13.  Details are available at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Vijay Iyer Sextet is slated to headline the Open Spaces festival at Starlight Theatre on Sunday, October 14.  Janelle Monáe and the Roots top the bill on the two preceding days.

*Brandon Draper is the subject of a feature on KCUR.

*Jim Mair chatted with Joe Dimino.

*Saxophonist Michael Eaton will perform John Coltrane's 1967 album Stellar Regions at Californos on Friday, August 3.  He’ll be joined by guitarist Seth Davis, bassist Jeff Harshbarger and drummer John Kizilarmut.  The cover charge is $10.

*The 2018 edition of the Columbia Experimental Music Festival has a few noteworthy bookings of interest to aficionados of adventurous jazz.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Kansas City, MO- “The Weekend will be stacked with high profile performances, particularly headliners @JanelleMonae, @theroots, and @vijayiyer, who is one of the biggest names in contemporary jazz.” - @OpenSpacesKC artistic director Dan Cameron

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Album Review: Stephen Martin- Vision

The jazz bro woo-cry is a repellent element of many jazz performances.  Yet I find myself involuntarily yelping the enthusiastic shout of appreciation every time I listen to Vision, the thrilling debut album by the Kansas City saxophonist Stephen Martin that will be released on July 27.

The playing of Martin, pianist Matt Villinger, bassist Karl McComas-Reichl and drummer John Kizilarmut isn’t gratuitously flashy.  Instead, exceptional group dynamics and uncommonly smart choices elicit my grating blurts of joy. 

Vision is particularly intriguing in the wake of the “new” John Coltrane album.  Give or take 18 months, the approach documented on the 1963 recording Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album serves as the foundation of Vision.  Rather than attempting to expand or update Coltrane’s sound, Martin’s quartet pays commendable homage to some the most renowned American music of the 20th century.

Villinger plays a fervent McCoy Tyner to Martin’s persuasive Coltrane.  The pianist stands out on uptempo selections including a raging version of Charlie Parker’s “Segment.”  While it doesn’t challenge convention or break new ground, Vision is among the most praiseworthy mainstream acoustic jazz albums to be made by a Kansas City artist in years.  Woo!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Now's the Time: Béla Fleck and the Flecktones

Victor Wooten’s outing at the Madrid Theatre in 2017 was one of the year’s most energetic jazz-adjacent performances in Kansas City.  (Plastic Sax reviewed the concert.)  The audacious bassist returns to Kansas City on Monday, July 9, as a member of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones for a show at the Uptown Theater.  The concert is one of hundreds of gigs listed at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Logan Richardson’s Blues People is the surprising but entirely worthy headliner of the 2018 edition of The Prairie Village Jazz Festival.  Molly Hammer, the Enormous Guitar Project, the Kessler-Embrey Conspiracy, Victor & Penny and Shawnee Mission East Blue Knights round out the lineup.

*As Plastic Sax first reported on May 2, the 2018-19 season of the Folly Jazz Series consists of concerts by Ramsey Lewis, Larry Carlton, the Yellowjackets, Kurt Elling, Joshua Redman and Arturo Sandoval.  The unnamed “mystery artist” at the venue’s site is Kandace Springs.

*The Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated with July’s bookings

*Tweet o’ the Week: Terry Teachout- Bill Watrous, R.I.P. The first world-class jazzman with whom I ever played, he was a supreme virtuoso and a true artist. This performance dates from around the time he came to Kansas City and appeared with my college jazz band. It suggests his quality: (link).

*From a press release: The Charlie Parker Celebration returns and will celebrate its 5th anniversary… (O)ne of this year’s Artist-in-Residence is Lonnie McFadden, a singer, trumpeter and tap dancer… Joining McFadden as an Artist-in-Residence will be Grammy winner Tivon Pennicott. Both will participate in many of this year’s feature events and the jazz crawl (20+ performances at 14 jazz clubs or venues during the 10-day event)… Tickets will range from free to modestly priced.

*From a press release: Leaving for Europe on July 3, KU Jazz Ensemble I will perform at three of the world’s most prestigious jazz festivals: the 52nd Annual Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, 38th Annual Jazz A Vienne in France and 48th Annual Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy. The group will also play in Italy at Scarperia Jazz Festival in Florence as well as performances at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory of Music in Milan and shows in Stresa and Torino.  (Deborah) Brown will perform with the jazz ensemble throughout Europe.

*From a press release: Pat Metheny has been elected into the prestigious Royal Swedish Academy of Music. Founded in 1771 by King Gustav III, the Royal Swedish Academy of Music is one of the Royal Academies in Sweden. The academy's purpose is to promote art music and musical life… (T)he 20-time GRAMMY® Award winner kicks off a 24-city European tour this week with Antonio Sanchez, Linda May Han Oh, and Gwilym Simcock, followed by a U.S. tour this fall.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Down(beat) and Out

Kansas City’s jazz scene doesn’t fare well in Downbeat’s 66th Annual Critics Poll.  Four artists received votes in the instrumentalist categories: Bobby Watson (12th place, alto saxophone), Pat Metheny (13th place, guitar, and 16th place, miscellaneous instruments), Logan Richardson (6th place, rising star- alto saxophone) and Mike Dillon (2nd place, rising star- vibraphone).  The late Bob Brookmeyer took 10th place on the Hall of Fame ballot.  No albums by Kansas City musicians are among the 104 releases receiving votes, nor is there any mention of notables including Peter Schlamb, Hermon Mehari, Marilyn Maye, Julian Vaughn, the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, Matt Otto or Deborah Brown.  What gives?

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Now's the Time: Hot Club KC

Anyone fortunate enough to recall the era in which Claude “Fiddler” Williams was a fixture in Kansas City jazz clubs will likely find a lot to like in Adam Galblum’s Hot Club KC.  The violinist will perform with his ensemble in Chaz’s Strings on the Green series on Saturday, June 30.  It’s one of the day’s 24 jazz gigs listed at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Basement Beat, a new album by Chris Hazelton's Boogaloo 7, and a separate single release of an interpretation of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings’ “100 Days, 100 Nights (Pt. 1&2)”, will be issued in July.

*Eddie Moore took part in a 88-minute conversation with Rob Foster.

*Bobby Watson will receive the Don Redman Jazz Heritage Award in West Virginia on Saturday, June 30.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Angela Burkett- Why can't ppl stop vandalizing our stuff. 18th and Vine District is trying to revive itself.

*From a press release: Denver, Colorado's vocal jazz pride and joy - Teresa Carroll - will appear at the Black Dolphin, The Phoenix, and Chaz on the Plaza on July 16, 17, & 18, respectively… Her appearances in Kansas City will reunite her with pianist Michael Pagan, with whom she worked in Colorado from 1998-2005.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Pagin' the Devil: The L.A. Swing Barons and Vine Street Rumble at Californos

I feared that my decision to attend an indoor recital on a glorious Saturday afternoon to hear two bands that specialize in vintage Kansas City jazz was a mistake.  My reservations were immediately dispelled when I entered the ballroom at Californos for a free concert by the L.A. Swing Barons and Vine Street Rumble

Rather than the creaky revivalism I dreaded, the show was a lively celebration.  By the time I left Californos. I wondered why I bother listening to any other form of music.

The room was packed with about 100 rapt listeners and athletic dancers for the event billed as a battle-of-the-bands.  The remarkably youthful L.A. Swing Barons added fresh energy to renditions of material by Kansas City legends including Bill Basie, Jay McShann and Mary Lou Williams.  The more seasoned members of Kansas City’s Vine Street Rumble approached a similar repertoire with less impetuousness than the brash Californians. 

Who came out on top?  The clear winners were the extraordinarily talented dancers who demonstrated that the Kansas City sound of the Pendergast Era remains sexy, thrilling and entirely vital.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Now's the Time: The L.A. Swing Barons

One of the most dedicated purveyors of vintage Kansas City jazz is based in Los Angeles.  The L.A. Swing Barons even titled their 2017 album Kansas City Stride.  The 14-piece ensemble performs at the Chesterfield on Friday, June 22, and takes on Vine Street Rumble in a battle of the bands at Californos on Saturday, June 23.  Details are available at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*In a column about efforts to revive the Jazz District, Dan Calderon asks “if it’s so important to our cultural and historical identity, why are residents so apathetic about the gradual decay of the very place where that chapter in history occurred?"

*Diana Krall’s concert at Muriel Kauffman Theatre was reviewed by Jessie Riggins.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Frank Morris- African American culture defines Kansas City. Without Jazz and Barbecue we’d be Des Moines.

*From a press release: Community Christian Church presents Tim Whitmer's July Jazz Jam 8: "Main Street Melody."  Join Tim Whitmer and friends on Sunday, July 29 at 4pm 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 Molly Hammer, Havilah Bruders, Maggie Pruitt, Danny Cox, guitarist Rod Fleeman, pianist Tim Whitmer, saxophonist Jim Mair, and the award-winning JJJ rhythm section of James Albright and Jurgen Welge.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Album Review: Ryan Marquez Trio- Moving Forward in Time

It’s difficult to reconcile the conventional new piano trio album Moving Forward in Time with the neo-soul and new-school jazz that’s featured on the self help-themed Conscious Listening podcast.  Yet Ryan Marquez, a St. Louis based artist who was born and raised in the Kansas City area, is responsible for both projects.

Marquez left Kansas City after graduating from high school in 2005.  He plays a homecoming concert with his trio at Corbin Theater on Saturday, July 21.

Marquez favors groove-oriented, plugged-in artists like Thundercat on his Conscious Listening show.  The comparatively buttoned-down jazz the pianist makes with bassist Ben Wheeler and drummer Steve Davis doesn’t fit the format.  It may not be progressive, but Moving Forward in Time isn’t square.

A reworking of “Moment’s Notice” titled “Notice Moments” is particularly hip.  Interpretations of hits by Bill Withers and Michael Jackson serve as inviting points of entry.  Original material like “Peace March,” a composition inspired by the 2017 Women’s March in St. Louis, possesses a sense of defiant optimism.  Marquez, Wheeler and Davis discuss the album  in a two-minute promotional video.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Now's the Time: Diana Krall

Diana Krall may be responsible for inspiring more inferior jazz than any other living musician.  The sway she holds over substantially less talented copycats shouldn’t be held against her.  Krall performs at Muriel Kauffman Theatre on Saturday, June 16.  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar lists two dozen additional jazz gigs on Saturday.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Jeff Harshbarger’s presentation for GuildIT streams at YouTube.

*The headline of a KCUR feature- “How Robert Altman's 'Kansas City' Helped Revive The Jazz District”- is provocative.

*Brandon Draper was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Rudy Harper- AT SIX: A portion of the old Mardi Gras building in KC’s Jazz District collapsed while renovations were underway. I’ll have a live report on @KCTV5

*From a press release: The Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University–Newark recently acquired the full collection of late great jazz icon, William J. “Count” Basie Jr… The collection, which features nearly 1,000 artifacts, including Count Basie’s pianos, Hammond organ, photos, correspondence, concert programs, business records and press clippings, will become available to the public in the near future.

*From a press release: After focusing on his vocals for the past decade, David Basse has returned to the drums, his first and primary instrument. David has teamed up with multi-instrumentalist and producer Greg Richter and bassist Joe Straws to create The David Basse Trio… This past Thanksgiving the trio picked up a Nebraska Music Hall of Fame award.

*From a press release: Founded as a premier student jazz opportunity for students in grades 9-12, the philosophy of the KC Area Youth Jazz organization is to develop selected jazz repertoire for refined performance opportunities… The organization has strategically teamed with BRC Audio Productions and its owner, Bill Crain.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Concert Review: The Marcus Lewis Big Band at RecordBar

I’m still marveling at a few of the solos played during the first set of the Marcus Lewis Big Band’s appearance at RecordBar on Sunday, June 3.  A good-natured saxophone battle between Mike Herrera and Stephen Martin was thrilling.  Clint Ashlock unleashed a trumpet solo that was as murderous as anything I’ve heard him play as the artistic director and conductor of the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra.  Additional prominent musicians including drummer Ryan Lee, keyboardist Eddie Moore and trombonist Jason Goudeau made similarly memorable statements.

It was a shame that less than two dozen people paid the $5 cover to hear the 18-piece big band.  A more robust audience would have undoubtedly propelled the ensemble to even greater heights.  I didn’t stick around to hear rapper Kemet the Phantom join the group in the second set, but the band’s new single “Fake It Til I Make It” gives me a good idea of what I missed. 

As he mentioned the forthcoming Brass & Boujee album, Lewis suggested that “it’s the first time ever that I know of that an 18-piece big band has played with two rappers fronting it… we’re combining jazz and hip-hop.”  While the first set didn’t feature any rapping, the big band’s stylish sound was entirely up to date.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, June 8, 2018

Now's the Time: The Glenn Miller Orchestra

I ain't afraid of no ghost!  That’s not entirely true.  Something about the rendition of “Symphony In Riffs” by the current edition of the Glenn Miller Orchestra in the embedded video gives me the creeps.  The big band performs at Muriel Kauffman Theatre on Thursday, June 14.  All of the month’s jazz bookings are listed at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Anita Dixon and Scott Wagner were interviewed by Joe Dimino about Kansas City’s UNESCO designation.

*Two new tracks by Chris Hazelton's Boogaloo 7 are available digitally now and as a 7” single on June 22.

*Libby Hanssen reported on the impetus of last week’s Building Cultural Bridges Through Jazz concert for KCUR.

*Teddy Dibble visits Charlie Parker’s grave at the 25:00 mark of his latest vlog post.

*Tweet o’ the Week: KC Jazz Orchestra- Next Monday, we are hosting a FREE listening party - come listen and discuss Monk’s “Brilliant Corners” at @KCLibrary downtown! #kcjazz #kcjazzorchestra

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, June 3, 2018

An Unorthodox Opinion

Last year’s Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival has been ruthlessly maligned and its organizers have been vilified.  Tremors from the ensuing trauma are rattling the foundations of Kansas City’s jazz community a year later.

The trash talk and finger-pointing that’s characterized the aftermath of a festival that resulted in a six-figure loss for taxpayers understandably overlooks a point that perhaps only Plastic Sax is willing to make.  From a purely artistic perspective, the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival was a massive success.

The auspicious jazz lineup featured on several stages at the three-day festival on that fateful Memorial Day weekend included ten particularly noteworthy touring acts:
  • Karrin Allyson with Houston Person- a sublime pairing
  • Brian Blade and the Fellowship- the fabled group’s first appearance in Kansas City
  • Regina Carter- the violinist is one of the most decorated artists in jazz
  • Chick Corea- the pianist is jazz royalty
  • Kevin Mahogany- the late vocalist’s final high-profile Kansas City show
  • Logan Richardson- the year’s only publicized area appearance by the most important Kansas City jazz musician to emerge this millennium 
  • John Scofield- the guitarist is one of jazz’s most popular artists
  • Soul Rebels- a party-starting New Orleans brass band
  • Greg Tardy- a brilliant Tennessee based saxophonist
  • Bobby Watson and Horizon- the Kansas City icon reassembled his all-star band
An impressive array of prominent locally based jazz musicians included Blair Bryant, Chris Hazelton, the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, Max Groove, Ida McBeth, the McFadden Brothers and Ernest Melton.  A more auspicious aggregation of local and international jazz talent may never gather in Kansas City again.

While the pop/R&B vocalists Brandy and Lalah Hathaway drew a crowd that festival organizers pegged at 5,000, no jazz performance was attended by more than a few hundred people.  Organizers blamed the poor turnout on a single burst of rain.  Some detractors allege that the festival was poorly publicized.  I beg to differ.  Almost all of the 500 people in the metropolitan area willing to pay $50 per day to hear mainstream jazz performed on outdoor stages in the Jazz District showed up.

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

Friday, June 1, 2018

Now's the Time: Shawn Maxwell's New Tomorrow

The Chicago based ensemble Shawn Maxwell’s New Tomorrow makes its Kansas City debut at Black Dolphin on Thursday, June 7.  A critic for Chicago Jazz Magazine suggested that the group’s 2016 album evokes the work of Steve Coleman and Dave Holland.  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar compiles all of June’s jazz listings.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Sam Zeff of KCUR reports on the latest twists and turns at the American Jazz Museum.

*The Kansas City Star’s Bill Turque assessed the City Council’s manuevering pertaining to the American Jazz Museum.

*A PBS panel discusses the American Jazz Museum at the 18:30 mark of the latest episode of Ruckus.

*The editorial board of The Kansas City Star infers that the ongoing turmoil surrounding the American Jazz Museum is a “distraction” that threatens to divert attention for citizen’s immediate needs.

*Michael Shults suggests that a “growing faction of ‘pretenders’ who wear fedoras and other ‘jazz hats’, make great looking gig flyers, and essentially act like a caricature of a JAZZ CAT on stage are gaining influence as well as an undue portion of the available gigs
in a provocative blog post.

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

*Deborah Brown and Joe Dimino chatted about the upcoming “Building Cultural Bridges Through Jazz” concert at the Gem Theater.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Kemet the Phantom- Pre-order my new single Fake It Till I Make It (feat. Kemet the Phantom & Hermon Mehari) by Marcus Lewis Big Band. Super honored to be a part of what I feel like will change the course of history.

*Comment o’ the Week: BGO- Thanks for linking the vintage interview with Jay McShann. I loved that man.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Concert Review: The Charles Williams Trio at First Baptist Church

Charles Williams declared that “I’m a real fun person” at the outset of his concert in the Jazz Vespers series at First Baptist Church on Sunday, May 27.  He validated the assertion with two convivial sets of melodic jazz.

Backed by bassist DeAndre Manning and drummer Mike Warren, the keyboardist focused on material from his new album Flavors of Jazz.  The lovely original composition “Macheé” and a bossa nova arrangement of “Chelsea Bridge” were particularly satisfying.

About 100 people heard Williams namecheck the Crusaders, Ahmad Jamal and  Grover Washington Jr. as inspirations.  The influence of those artists is apparent in the soulful urbanity of Williams’ sound.  His bandmates were ideal accompanists. Warren played like a sentient metronome.  A couple of Manning’s funky solos were so deliciously greasy that they shouldn’t have been allowed in church.  Williams’ unaccompanied reading of “Amazing Grace” acted as penance for Manning’s unsanctified outbursts.

In her ten-minute sermon at the intermission, Rev. Dezo Desauguste asserted that following God’s path “feels so right... feels so natural... feels so effortless.”  The same can be said of the rewarding music of Williams, Manning and Warren.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Now's the Time: Charles Perkins

One of Kansas City’s most talented saxophonists is introduced as “the one, the only, the original Charles Perkins” in the embedded footage captured at the Mutual Musicians Foundation.  Perkins will appear in the late-night gig at the Green Lady Lounge on Tuesday, May 29.  Details are available at the Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Laura Spencer of KCUR and Bill Turque of The Kansas City Star report on developments concerning the reorganization of the American Jazz Museum.  The editorial board of The Kansas City Star expresses displeasure with the latest news.

*A La Mode is featured in The Pitch.

*Jeff Shirley was interviewed by a representative of Johnson County Library.

*Deborah Brown, Bobby Watson, Sylswester Ostrowski and the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra will perform at a concert titled Building Cultural Bridges Through Jazz at the Gem Theater on May 31.

*Teddy Dibble recalls Sun Ra’s 1982 residency in Kansas City at the 12:50 mark of his vinyl-oriented video.

*An engaging interview with Jay McShann was recently made available.  (Tip via Marc Myers.)

*Dean Minderman examines Jazz St. Louis’ 2018-19 bookings.  Highlights include the Bad Plus, Lonnie Smith and Chucho Valdes.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Holly Forsman- Donated a rare Charlie Parker album of 78s to the Kansas City Jazz Museum. Didn't want them to wind up in a garage sale when I died. They kindly made me CDS as a thank you.

*Comment o’ the Week: BGO- Cheptoo is now history with The American Jazz Museum. Perhaps she'll come crawling back here to the library.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Album Review: Harold O'Neal- Piano Cinema

A player piano in a Wild West saloon that emits the melodies of contemporary rock songs is a curious detail in HBO’s reboot of “Westworld.”  In much the same way, Harold O’Neal’s new solo album Piano Cinema is an unlikely combination of vintage and progressive sounds. 

Born in Tanzania and raised in Kansas City, O’Neal is the nephew of Pete O’Neal, the controversial exile who once led the Black Panthers in Kansas City. 

Piano Cinema often sounds as if a hologram of Art Tatum is paying tribute to Scott Joplin.  While “Jukebox Motion” echoes the rendition of “In a Sentimental Mood” on the 1963 album Duke Ellington & John Coltrane, much of Piano Cinema evokes the classical impressionism of Claude Debussy.

A curious sound field gives Piano Cinema a unique ambience.  While the music is serene on the surface, the album’s uneasy undercurrent might compel anyone who chooses to unwind to Piano Cinema to meditate with one eye open.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Now's the Time: The Marcus Lewis Big Band

Kansas City is home to at least five big bands.  Only the expansive ensemble led by trombonist Marcus Lewis incorporates hip-hop elements into its mix.  Lewis’ group performs at Westport Coffee House on Thursday, May 17.  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar, a comprehensive guide to the area’s scene, lists dozens of additional gigs in the second half of May.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner of the American Jazz Museum, vocalist Deborah Brown and the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra are featured in a Polish publication.

*Kansas City drummer Jerry Pollock was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

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

*A television reporter informs viewers of today’s legislative meeting regarding the direction of the beleaguered American Jazz Museum.

*Tweet o’ the Week: American Jazz Museum- OTD in 1953, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach made history by recording the live jazz album, The Quintet-Jazz at Massey Hall, in Toronto. Stop by AJM to pay tribute to Charlie Parker’s Grafton saxophone played on this historic day!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Album Review: Todd Strait- There'll Be Some Changes Made

Todd Strait is one of the Kansas City jazz scene’s most valuable sideman.  The drummer's presence on a date lends instant prestige while his playing guarantees a phenomenal sense of swing.  Yet he’s relatively unknown outside of jazz circles.

There’ll Be Some Changes Made, Strait’s first album as leader, should increase his visibility.  The mainstream recording shows why he was an essential member of the touring bands led by jazz notables Karrin Allyson, Eldar Djangirov and Kevin Mahogany.  (Djangirov is the album’s mixing engineer.)

The 66-minute project features a few guest appearances, but Strait works with pianist Bill Mays and bassist Bob Bowman on almost every track.  Three selections are particularly rewarding.  An interpretation of Beethoven’s “Für Elise” is delightful.  “Kids Are Pretty People” showcases Strait’s impeccable tastefulness. The feisty dialogue between Strait and Bowman on “Tiptoe” provide the best moments of There'll Be Some Changes Made.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, May 11, 2018

Now's the Time: Chris Neville at Black Dolphin

Five of the seven musicians in the embedded video filmed 23 years ago have died.  Only pianist Chris Neville and saxophonist Plas Johnson survive.  The Boston based Neville performs at Black Dolphin on Monday, May 14.  He’ll be accompanied by bassist Jeff Harshbarger and drummer Todd Strait.  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar lists 68 gigs between today and Neville’s outing.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Anne Kniggendorf of KCUR interviewed Brad Cox and Jeff Harshbarger in a preview of the People’s Liberation Big Band’s performance on Saturday, May 11.

*Doug Ramsey recommends Todd Strait’s new album There’ll Be Some Changes Made.

*Chuck Haddix considers the woes of the American Jazz Museum.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Phil Schaap- I get asked about the young musicians a lot and it’s possible that I diminish their propers by always pointing out that what’s desperately needed is young listeners  … and lots of them.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Concert Review: The Uriel Herman Quartet at Black Dolphin

A concert by the SFJazz Collective wasn’t the best jazz performance I took in on Friday, April 27.  At Black Dolphin, a relatively unheralded Israeli quartet led by Uriel Herman played with more urgency than the all-star band at the Folly Theater.

Unencumbered from the strictures of America’s jazz tradition, Herman’s group resembled insolent heretics as they performed untoward acts on a form that’s often treated like a fragile antique by their American counterparts.  Pianist Herman, saxophonist and flautist Uriel Weinberger, bassist Avri Borochov and drummer Haim Peskoff exuded correspondingly rebellious swagger.  Even when Borochov wasn’t playing oud, the quartet incorporated Mediterranean elements into their foolhardy sound.

The setlist of the second set included the original compositions “Hour of the Wolf” and “White Night” as well as fresh interpretations of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things”.

A group of about a dozen tipsy men and women literally stumbled into the never-a-cover-charge venue at 10:45 p.m. In thrall of the quartet, a few of the unsuspecting celebrants appeared to fall in love with jazz for the first time.  At least one old hand felt his passion for the form rekindled by the Israeli musicians after the lukewarm outing by the SFJazz Collective had dampened his enthusiasm earlier that evening.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Now's the Time: The Joe Policastro Trio

Few developments on the Midwestern jazz scene would be more welcome than an ongoing exchange of musicians between Chicago and Kansas City.  The appearances of the Chicago based Joe Policastro Trio at Black Dolphin on Friday, May 4, and at the Reserve Restaurant & Lounge at the Ambassador Hotel on Saturday, May 5, are a promising step in that direction.  The guitarist’s group interprets the theme song of Akira Kurosawa’s 1961 film in the embedded video.  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar lists more than 75 additional gigs this weekend.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Gale Tallis announced the lineup of the 2018-19 Folly Jazz Series before the SFJazz Collective concert on Friday.  It consists of appearances by Ramsey Lewis, Kandace Springs, Kurt Elling, Joshua Redman, the Yellowjackets and Arturo Sandoval. 

*Laura Spencer documents a Kansas City Council committee meeting in which it was determined that Executive Director Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner and all but three board members would resign.  She also solicited the opinions of Kansas City jazz musicians.

*A public television panel considers the departure of Kositany-Buckner at the 5:00-minute mark of a recent program.

*Toriano Porter opines that “Kansas City is so closely associated with jazz that it would be shameful if apathy imperiled the future of (the American Jazz Museum)” for The Kansas City Star.

*Harold O’Neal created an EPK for his forthcoming Piano Cinema album.

*Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis will perform a world premiere at the Lied Center on October 11.  The commissioned piece honors 15 people associated with the University of Kansas' basketball program.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Tony- It Was International Jazz Day In Kansas City And Nobody Cared . . . (link)

*Comment o’ the Week: BGO- Sure is great news to see Logan on the fabulous Tiny Desk Series.

*The Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated with a thorough listing of May’s gigs.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Concert Review: The SFJazz Collective at the Folly Theater

The SFJazz Collective’s concert at the Folly Theater on Friday was the musical equivalent of Major League Baseball’s annual All-Star Game.  While it was thrilling to see so much talent in one place, there wasn’t much at stake for the eight celebrated musicians or for the audience of more than 500.

As in a nine-inning contest, waiting for a favorite player’s turn in the spotlight on Friday was occasionally taxing.  Miguel Zenón, a saxophonist who is among the most important jazz artists under the age of 50, was alotted only two solos during the two-hour performance.  Watching him relegated to the on-deck circle as his (worthy) bandmates soloed was immensely frustrating. 

That’s why drummer Obed Calvaire deserves recognition as the Most Valuable Player.  Persistent but never overbearing, Calvaire’s creative timekeeping and strong rapport with bassist Matt Penman ensured that the performance was never monotonous.  David Sánchez, a one-time major label saxophonist whose star has faded considerably, demonstrated that he remains vital.  Trombonist Robin Eubanks, trumpeter Sean Jones, pianist Edward Simon and vibraphonist Warren Wolf rounded out the bill in the impressive but nonetheless immaterial exhibition.

Setlist: All Blues, Milestones, Tidal Flow, Perseverance, Tutu, Off Kilter, Soundless Odyssey, Joshua, Tune For June.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Now's the Time: Warren Wolf

Vibraphonist Warren Wolf performs with the SFJazz Collective at the Folly Theater on Friday, April 27.  He plays Gary Burton to Alex Brown’s Chick Corea on “Señor Mouse” in the embedded video.  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar lists almost two dozen additional gigs on Friday.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Luqman Hamza has died.  He was 86.  The pianist and vocalist was the subject of Plastic Sax posts in 2007 and 2013.

*Logan Richardson leads a band that includes his fellow Kansas City musicians Ryan Lee, DeAndre Manning and Justus West in a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR.

*Laura Spencer reports on the latest developments regarding the uncertain future of the American Jazz Museum for KCUR.  The editorial board of The Kansas City Star asserts that “yanking all support for the jazz museum immediately would be counterproductive.”

*Joe Dimino’s Neon Jazz show has moved from KCXL to KOJH.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Bill McKemy- One of KC’s master musicians has left us. Thanks for the music Luqman Hamza (link)

*From a press release: On May 11, 2010, The People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City will perform the ensemble's original score to Sergei Eisenstein’s classic 1925 silent film “The Battleship Potemkin.”  Along with a complete screening of "Battleship Potemkin," the People's Liberation Big Band will also accompany two short films as a prelude to the performance... The People’s Liberation Big Band’s score contains a combination of  newly composed material, free improvisation, and arrangements of Shostakovich melodies and traditional Russian songs… The performance will take place at the Musical Theater Heritage at Crown Center (2450 Grand Blvd, Suite 301, Kansas City, MO 64108) at 8:00 p.m.  Ticket price is $20.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Concert Review: Stan Kessler, Jackie Myers and Dominique Sanders at Thee Gin Mill

One of the the most confounding aspects of the area’s jazz scene is the relative scarcity of live jazz in Johnson County, Kansas.  Although about 600,000 people live in the county that’s adjacent to both Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas, improvised music in the district is underrepresented on the Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

A couple dozen people took in the first set by the trio of trumpeter Stan Kessler, keyboardist and vocalist Jackie Myers and bassist Dominique Sanders at Thee Gin Mill on Friday.  The establishment near the intersection of 135th Street and Roe Avenue recently began booking jazz artists.

Service was fast and friendly in the room that’s a few hundred yards north of the Dixieland mainstay the Gaslight Grill.  As televisions displayed NBA, MLB and MLS games, the trio entertained on a small raised stage near the entrance.  Her vocals on “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Stars Fell on Alabama” demonstrated that Myers, a new addition to the area, brings a singular talent to the scene.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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.