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.

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.)