Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Hermon Mehari chatted with KCUR’s Chuck Haddix.

*The editorial board of The Kansas City Star suggests that the “status quo at the American Jazz Museum is unacceptable.”

*Seven minutes of footage of last night’s concert by Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom was shared by Steve Paul.

*Mike Corrigan's instrument and instrument repair business is the subject of a two-minute feature created by NBC News.

*John Kizilarmut was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*The season debut of the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra was documented by Joe Dimino.

*Clint Ashlock is quoted in a The New York Times story about the mania surrounding Patrick Mahomes, the young quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs.

*Tweet o’ the Week: SpinningTreeTheatre- Jazz Great Angela Hagenbach Headlines Spinning Tree Sings! Cabaret Fundraiser. Mon Nov 12 @ 7:30pm, Just Off Broadway. Roger Wilder, Piano. Tyrone Clark, Bass. Michael Warren, Drums

(Original image of a men's bathroom in Arrowhead Stadium at Saturday's Ed Sheeran concert by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, October 15, 2018

Concert Review: The Vijay Iyer Sextet at the Gem Theater

At the outset of his performance at the Gem Theater on Sunday, Vijay Iyer told the 75 members of the audience that he had an out-of-body experience at the Mutual Musicians Foundation earlier in the day. For the next 90 minutes, my $20 ticket allowed me to travel over the moon and through the stars via the transporting sound of the all-star sextet led by one of the most decorated artists in jazz.

Initially slated to be held at the 8,000-seat Starlight Theatre as the third and final installment of the Open Spaces festival’s showcase concert series, weather considerations necessitated the change in location for the show’s headlining act. The brisk temperature and unrelenting precipitation were a blessing in disguise. Iyer drew about 250 people to his previous Kansas City appearance at the Folly Theater in 2012. A quintet led by Hermon Mehari opened Sunday’s show.

Profound, revelatory and experimental without ever seeming forced, the playing of keyboardist Iyer, Graham Haynes on flugelhorn and electronics, saxophonists Steve Lehman and Mark Shim, bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Jeremy Dutton evoked the 90-year-old recordings of Louis Armstrong’s band even during the most adventurous explorations. Footage of the year’s most exemplary concert of improvised instrumental music streams here and here.

(Original images by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Now's the Time: The Vijay Iyer Sextet

The Weekend, the signature event of the Open Spaces festival, consists of three concerts at Starlight Theatre.  Janelle Monáe and the Roots, the headliners of the first two shows, are depicted on a billboard on the east side of downtown Kansas City.  Vijay Iyer, the brilliant jazz artist who leads a sextet at the venue on Sunday, October 14, isn’t pictured.  Open Spaces provides few details about the pianist’s show, but Iyer’s site informs fans that he’ll be joined by an all-star band.  Graham Haynes will play cornet, flugelhorn and trumpet.  Saxophonists Steve Lehman and Mark Shim, bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Jeremy Dutton round out the lineup.  A complete survey of area jazz performances is available at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Now's the Time: Weekly News & Notes

*Tim Finn reports on Lori Chandler’s new Take Five Music Productions endeavor.

*Calvin Wilson wrote a profile of Doreen Maronde for KC Studio.

*The Marcus Lewis Big Band’s appearance at the Open Spaces festival was documented by David Basse for University News.

*Winners in The Pitch’s annual poll include Green Lady Lounge (Best Blues Venue, Best Jazz Venue and Best Nightclub), Molly Hammer (Best Jazz Artist), A La Mode (Best Jazz Band) and the Kansas City Kansas Street Blues Festival (Best Jazz Event).

*Tweet o’ the Week: Kauffman Center- Don't miss The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra’s season-opener “Autumn In New York” on Oct. 12 at the Kauffman Center. The performance will feature classic charts by Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, and more! Tickets: (link)

*From a press release: New Originals for the Green Lady is the fourth album length release by the Kansas City group OJT (organ jazz trio).  This release features original compositions by Ken Lovern and Brian Baggett and one completely improvised piece titled Back Yard Improv Jam.  New Originals is the follow up album to New Standards for the Green Lady, a 2015 release that gave the group’s unique organ jazz treatment to pop tunes of the last few decades.  OJT now makes a more unique and personal musical statement with a full length album of original music.  Both of these releases feature Ken Lovern on hammond organ, Brian Baggett on guitar, and Kevin Frazee on drums… New Originals will be available on November 7, 2018 in collectible green vinyl, traditional black vinyl, CD, and downloads… OJT plays at Green Lady Lounge every Wednesday and Saturday, so if you are in Kansas City there are plenty of chances to catch the group.

*From a press release: The Carlsen Center at Johnson County Community College presents its ninth year of Winterlude, spotlighting jazz in full-length evening performances. The 2018-2019 season kicks off with Marilyn Maye, “90 at Last,” featuring the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra on Sunday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. in Yardley Hall… Local groups playing in the Winterlude series include: Angela Hagenbach Quintet: Dec. 2; Eddie Moore and Pamela Baskin-Watson: Jan. 20; Hot Club KC: Feb. 24; Cubanisms: March 17. These performances will take place at 7 p.m. in the Carlsen Center Polsky Theatre.

(Original image from a festival in Kentucky by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Concert Review: Ramsey Lewis and Urban Knights at the Folly Theater

Ramsey Lewis and Urban Knights got off to a rough start at the Folly Theater on Thursday, September 27.  Guitarist Henry Johnson, keyboardist Tim Gant, bassist Joshua Ramos and drummer Charles Heath stubbornly laid down an unrelenting funk groove as Lewis attempted to play a delicate improvisation on acoustic piano in an awkward interpretation of “Tequila Mockingbird.”  I feared that I’d spent $20 to watch an evening of musicians working at cross-purposes.

Even though the soul-jazz giant, 83, and his bandmates eventually found common ground in their 90-minute performance, Lewis’ unaccompanied playing on versions of John Coltrane’s “Dear Lord” and the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” provided the show’s most memorable moments.  Lewis’ unaccompanied excursions indicated that while his body may move slowly, his mind is as facile as ever.

After encouraging the audience of about 600 to clap along during the encore, Lewis jokingly snarled when they persisted.  His physical comedy was mirrored by the Urban Knights.  Each man elicited laughter at least once with amusing musical gags.  I’ve seen Lewis perform several times in recent years, but his usual closing flurry of the hits “Sun Goddess,” “Wade in the Water” and “The ‘In’ Crowd” never fails to give me goosebumps.  If Lewis returns to Kansas City in 2019, I’ll be there to greet him.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Now's the Time: John Petrucelli

John Petrucelli likens his sound to current jazz heavyweights like Donny McCaslin.  The lofty comparison isn’t unwarranted.  Petrucelli, the Director of Jazz at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma, demonstrates his brawny sound and big imagination on his new album Presence.  He’ll lead a band in the Orion Room at the Green Lady Lounge on Monday, October 8, and next door at Black Dolphin on Tuesday, October 9.  The saxophonist’s gigs are among the listings at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Lonnie McFadden’s Live at Green Lady Lounge was enthusiastically reviewed by Jazz Weekly.

*Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom will perform at Musical Theater Heritage on Tuesday, October 16.

*Kait Dunton, the former keyboardist for Snarky Puppy, will lead a trio at Black Dolphin on Thursday, Nov. 15.

*Joe Dimino shares glimpses of Stephen Martin’s recent performance at RecordBar.  He also chatted with Molly Hammer.

*The 56-page program for the 2018-19 season of the Folly Theater Jazz Series lists the lineups for the forthcoming concerts.  I’m republishing them as a public service.  Larry Carlton Quintet, October 12: Larry Carlton, guitar; Gary Novak, drums; Travis Carlton, bass; Bob Reynolds, saxophone; Mark Stevens, keyboard; The Yellowjackets, January 18: Russell Ferrante, piano; Will Kennedy, drums; Dane Alderson, bass; Bob Mintzer, tenor saxophone; Kandace Springs, February 15: Kandace Springs, keyboard/vocals; Chris Gaskell, bass; Connor Parks, drums; Kurt Elling Quintet, March 9: Kurt Elling, vocals; Stu Mindeman, piano; Clark Sommers, bass; Adonis Rose, drums; Joshua Redman Quartet, April 11: Joshua Redman, saxophone; Aaron Goldberg, piano; Reuben Rogers, bass; Gregory Hutchinson, drums; Arturo Sandoval, April 27: Arturo Sandoval, trumpet; John Belzaguy, bass; Tiki Pasillas, percussion; Michael Tucker, saxophone.

*A blogger documented an area performance by Lonnie Holley and Nelson Patton.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Gravy Jones- Jazz in the restroom at the Kansas City zoo is just perfect.

*Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated with October’s gigs.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Concert Review: Mezzo String at Polsky Theatre

Ryan Lee conducted a disheartening exercise at Mezzo String’s free noontime concert at Polsky Theatre on Tuesday, September 25.  Only a few hands went up when the bandleader asked which members of the audience of almost 100 were younger than 30.  A few more responded when asked if they were younger than 40.  About a dozen additional people acknowledged that they were in their forties.  Even though it’s held on the campus of Johnson County Community College, the Jazz Series attracts retirees rather than students.

And truth be told, Mezzo String’s highly refined chamber jazz is more likely to appeal to people with naturally gray hair than to students who opt to dye their hair purple.  Lee, one of Kansas City’s most dynamic drummers, seamlessly meshes jazz musicians and a string quartet in Mezzo String.  While he and his bandmates are young, their cultivated sound never threatened to unsettle even the most conservative old-timers in the audience.  Every one of the old folks was probably already familiar with the melodies on interpretations of “Lush Life” and “My One and Only Love.”  A reading of the former standard served as a vehicle for trumpeter Nate Nall, while the later selection was played by the ensemble’s string quartet and bassist Ben Leifer.

The tone of two or three original compositions matched the genteel sensibility.  Lee insisted that the three soloists “go wild” on an interpretation of Joe Locke’s “Her Sanctuary.”  The mandate pushed the straight-laced pianist Roger Wilder out of his comfort zone to excellent effect and allowed Nall and violinist Coleen Dieker to do what comes naturally to them.  Lee noted that he’d heard and participated in “a lot of great concerts” at Polsky Theatre.  He can add last week’s distinguished show to that list.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Now's the Time: Lonnie Holley

Lonnie Holley isn’t necessarily a jazz artist, but his new album Mith features contributions from the jazz-adjacent ensemble Nelson Patton and is imbued with an improvisatory spirit.  The celebrated eccentric who received a positive notice at Pitchfork today performs in Swope Park at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, September 29, as part of Open Spaces.  The free show is one of more than 30 of the day’s gigs listed at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Stan Kessler shares an anecdote about a celebrity encounter with Joe Dimino.

*Harry Connick Jr. will perform at the Midland theater on Wednesday, December 19.

*Tweet o’ the Week: The CUR3- The Mayor approves..... That's a Major 🔑 TheCUR3 is ready to take over! #God1st #Family #Music #Life #mayorofkansascity #Chicago #stlouis #kansascity(photo)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Concert Review: James D’s Nouveau Noir at Open Spaces

The first of two free musical performances presented by Open Spaces in Swope Park on the afternoon of Saturday, September 22, was promoted with a jazz hashtag.  Even though James D, a.k.a. James Christos, is a Kansas City rapper who once held next-big-thing status, I had no reason to doubt the categorization.  Christos is currently associated with the Mutual Musicians Foundation and the hallowed jazz institution’s low-power radio station KOJH.

A few minutes before the Nouveau Noir performance began, a woman at Christos' merch booth told me that if I liked jazz, I’d like the show.  I was further encouraged when jazz-oriented musicians including drummer Tyree Johnson took the stage.  I was let down.

The program Christo described as a “sound journey” was intended to convey the totality of the black American experience.  It included segments of African drumming, poetry, interpretive dance, R&B and an a cappella version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”  Yet it was mostly a vehicle for Christos’ rapping.  At one point in the 90-minute performance for an audience of 50, Christos introduced a selection as “a little bit of a jazzy thing.”  Nope.  He rapped that he was “feeling myself” over a neo-soul groove instead.

Misrepresenting music as “#jazz” is a minor infraction.  The inconsistent quality of the show was a more serious misdeed.  I’ve heard most members of the band play far more compelling music.  I’ve also witnessed Christos rap with stunning ferocity.  The overly solicitous Nouveau Noir review catered to the sorts of middle-aged do-gooders who proudly display “Celebrate Diversity” bumper stickers on their hybrid vehicles.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, September 21, 2018

Now's the Time: Ramsey Lewis

The embedded video documents an unbearably cringey television appearance by a band led by Ramsey Lewis.  An appallingly disrespectful and absurdly incongruous dance troupe shimmies through renditions of the crossover hits “The ‘In’ Crowd” and “Hang On Sloopy.”  Lewis and his Urban Knights ensemble perform at the Folly Theater on Thursday, Sept. 27.  The show is one of the evening’s 16 gigs listed at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*David Basse extols Stan Kessler in the University News.

*Millie Edwards was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*Max Bennett, a jazz-oriented musician with ties to Kansas City, has died.

*Erykah Badu, an R&B star who channels Billie Holiday, headlines what’s billed as the Fountain City Blues & Jazz Festival at the Sprint Center on October 19.

*Tweet o’ the Week: FOX4 News- Family, friends hold vigil for young father killed last Friday night near 18th and Highland in Kansas City’s Jazz District (link)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, September 17, 2018

Album Review: The Count Basie Orchestra- All About That Basie

All About That Basie is precisely the sort of album the Count Basie Orchestra needed to release in 2018.  By blending a few impressive guest features with tracks that remain true to the institution’s tradition of powerhouse swing, the star-studded album allows the band whose leader died in 1984 to stave off cultural irrelevance.

In harkening back to Frank Sinatra’s popular collaboration with the Count Basie Orchestra, Kurt Elling’s suave vocal makes “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me” the album’s standout track.  Stevie Wonder adds his distinctive harmonica to a robust instrumental version of “My Cherie Amour.”  Joey DeFrancesco’s greasy organ on a remake of “April in Paris” is delectable.

The project contains a few misfires. Two tracks are particularly egregious.  The vocal group Take 6 piles thick layers of gooey cheese on “Every Day I Have the Blues.”  And it’s disappointing that no one told the Basie crew that there’s an unofficial moratorium on covers of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” the most played-out song of the new millennium.

Even so, the good on All About That Basie easily outweighs the bad.  And while guitarist Will Matthews is the only member of the band who still resides in Kansas City, the Count Basie Orchestra continues to make Kansas City proud.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Now's the Time: The Sextet

Grab your sunglasses.  The Sextet has a pair of free outdoor daylight gigs lined up.  The youthful collective led by bassist Robert Castillo performs at Big Eleven Lake in Kansas City, Kansas, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 15.  The Sextet will entertain on the Ink Live! Stage during the Plaza Art Fair at 1 p.m. on Sunday, September 23.  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar is a complete guide to all area performances.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joe Dimino interviewed Jackie Myers and Nate Nall.

*Joe Dimino created a video montage of the opening acts at last weekend’s Prairie Village Jazz Festival.

*A man was murdered in the heart of the Jazz District last week.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Crunchee- Logan Richardson and his band played an amazing set at the Prairie Village Jazz Festival last night. Too bad 95% of the crowd left when it got loud and never got to see it.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Gently Up the Stream

Let’s play a jazz version of the “would you rather” parlor game. 
Would you rather receive a cumulative 250 spins a week on non-commercial radio stations throughout the country or rack up 10,000 plays a week in the global marketplace with a single song on Spotify?

The former option involves mailing compact discs to dozens of radio stations and (ideally) hiring a publicist to persuade DJs to play it.  The latter gambit requires lobbying a well-placed connection at the music streaming service or simply relying on fortuitous serendipity to obtain placement on popular playlists.

The efforts documented on social media by many locally based musicians suggest that they covet placement on the JazzWeek terrestrial radio chart.  Karrin Allyson, an artist who launched her career in Kansas City, currently holds the #2 spot on the chart with 238 weekly plays of selections from her Some of That Sunshine album at 53 outlets.

“Fake it Till I Make It,” a track from the Kansas City based Marcus Lewis Big Band’s new album Brass & Boujee, achieved a different form of success.  Since being added to Spotify’s State of Jazz playlist a couple weeks ago, it’s been played more than 50,000 times. 

As much as I like working in the terrestrial radio format, I believe that focusing on placement at streaming services is a savvier strategy for most area jazz artists, at least until a song or album gains traction.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Now's the Time: Logan Richardson

Joe Lovano’s bold playing repelled a significant portion of the audience at the Prairie Village Jazz Festival in 2014.  The even more aggressive sound of Logan Richardson could induce mild panic at the event on Saturday, September 8.  Molly Hammer, the Enormous Guitar Project, the Kessler-Embry Conspiracy, Victor & Penny and the Shawnee Mission East Blue Knights round out the bill.  Hundreds of additional gigs are listed at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*David Basse encourages UMKC students to catch jazz performances on the Country Club Plaza.

*The practicality of Vijay Iyer’s headlining appearance at Starlight Theater is among the issues addressed in a discussion of Open Spaces on KCUR’s Up To Date program.

*The Kansas City Star previewed Logan Richardson’s appearance at the Prairie Village Jazz Festival

*Anthony Braxton will perform in St. Louis next month.  (Tip via St. Louis Jazz Notes.)

*Tweet o’ the Week: WBGO Jazz 88.3FM- Hear our sets captured live at Charlie Parker Jazz Festival with Catherine Russell and Keyon Harrold: (link)

*From a press release: Millie Edwards and her band will kick off the fourth season of Kansas City Jazz Vespers on Sunday, September 9, from 6:00 - 8:00 pm, featuring 100 minutes of professional jazz in a concert setting...  Kansas City Jazz Vespers is held at the historic First Baptist Church... 

*The Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated with September’s gigs.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, September 3, 2018

Album Review: The Marcus Lewis Big Band- Brass and Boujee

The most bracing passage of Brass and Boujee, the new album by the Marcus Lewis Big Band, comes in the final moments of the consequential project.  Kemet the Phantom raps that throughout his “whole damn life seems like I been lied to, f-ck the American dream, I’m gonna fight you” on “Ghetto Heaven.”

The incendiary lyric blows the lid off an album that’s otherwise kept at a medium simmer.  Brass and Boujee is a poised dispatch from the intersection of jazz and hip-hop.  Lewis, a Kansas City based trombonist best known for his association with Janelle Monaé, has marshalled many of the region’s top jazz artists into his big band.  His urbane charts leave plenty of room for the wildly disparate rappers Kemet the Phantom and Kadesh Flow.

The latter artist employs an emphatic style so urgent that he sometimes seems as if he’s choking.  Unfortunately, he’s assigned the quixotic task of delivering Kendrick Lamar’s lines on an interpretation of “Alright,” a track that should have been left off the album.  His outburst at the end of the album aside, the nimble Kemet the Phantom applies a lighter touch. 

In spite of the album title’s allusion to Migos’ 2016 hit “Bad and Boujee,” the band’s sound is more closely aligned with ‘70s-era R&B and the pop styles of the ‘80s than with contemporary hip-hop.  A cover of Bruno Mars’ retro-themed hit “24k Magic” reflects its orientation.  Kadesh Flow boasts that “I’m dominating rap battles because of my vocabulary” on the appealingly vulnerable “Boxes.”  In much the same way, the refined audacity of Lewis’ ensemble allows it to surpass many of its peers.

(Original image of the Marcus Lewis Big Band at RecordBar by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, August 31, 2018

Now's the Time: Ken Lovern

Ken Lovern doesn’t live at the Green Lady Lounge, but it often seems that way.  The organist will perform with guitarist Danny Embrey and drummer Todd Strait in the Orion Room at Kansas City’s most popular jazz venue on Friday, August 31.  Lovern’s additional dates are listed at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra’s performance of Mary Lou Williams’ “Zodiac Suite” was previewed by Libby Hanssen for KCUR.

*Joe Dimino interviewed Dan Thomas and two of his UMKC students.

*The Kansas City Star reports that the Grille at Park Place, a Johnson County restaurant that hosted jazz performances every weekend, is closing.

*Julie Denesha examined a Charlie Parker-inspired art installation for KCUR.

*”Jazz is ear poison.”

*Tweet o’ the Week: SummerStage- @Thebadplus are sounding extra good here this afternoon at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival!  – at Tompkins Square Park (video)

(Original image of Nevin Aladağ's "Resonator" by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Concert Review: Lonnie McFadden's "Charlie Parker: Past, Present & Future" at the Gem Theater

Kansas City’s top entertainer oversaw a jubilant tribute to Kansas City’s most famous son at the Gem Theater on Sunday.  In many ways, Lonnie McFadden’s "Charlie Parker: Past, Present & Future" presentation was a McFadden Brothers concert with an extra helping of chatter and contributions from two auspicious guests.  Most members of the audience of more than 400 wouldn’t have had it any other way at the momentous event.

McFadden, the man known as “Mr. Kansas City,” is a jazz saxophonist, tap dancer and Las Vegas-style showman.  He was joined by his brother, trumpeter Ronnie McFadden, and a core band of pianist Andrew Ouellette, guitarist Matt Hopper, bassist DeAndre Manning and drummer Tyree Johnson.  The 100-minute show featured appearances by Kansas City’s grand master Bobby Watson and the New York based saxophonist Tivon Pennicott.

McFadden insisted that he’s a dedicated Parker scholar in a lengthy appreciation at the start of the culmination of the fifth annual Charlie Parker Celebration.  He may have felt the extended commentary was necessary because the show didn’t feature a single Parker composition or any attempts to recreate Parker’s sound.

If McFadden’s verbal acclamations represented the “past” portion of the show’s title, the vital music defined the “present.”  The McFaddens stepped aside to allow Pennicott to showcase his imposing technique on “Lush Life” and his original “Never Been.”  Watson sounded as magnificent as ever on his compositions “Sweet Dreams” and “Wheel Within a Wheel.”  McFadden’s duet with his daughter Chloe on “Unforgettable” and a tap dance routine with Ronnie were sure-fire audience pleasers.

McFadden insisted that the “future” component of the show’s title was represented by the comparatively young musicians Hopper, Johnson, Manning and Ouellette.  While they played flawlessly, none of them has yet revealed an intention to become a transgressive innovator in the tradition of Parker.  Area jazz fans will need to wait for Logan Richardson’s return to Kansas City on September 8 to hear a truer representation of Parker’s futuristic vision.

Setlist: Birdland, A Night in Tunisia, Never Been, Lush Life, Cherokee, Sweet Dreams, Wheel Within a Wheel, tap dancing, Unforgettable, Kansas City

(Original images by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Now's the Time: Nolatet

Mike Dillon, the percussion maniac who has entertained (and terrorized) Kansas City audiences for decades, returns to the Brick on Wednesday, August 29, with Nolatet.  Joined by pianist Brian Haas, bassist James Singleton and drummer Johnny Vidacovich, Dillon will perform material from the band’s bracing new album No Revenge Necessary.  The show is one of scores listed at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Larry Kopitnik examines the Charlie Parker Celebration for The Pitch.

*Ron Carlson’s For You was recently released.

*David Basse touts the Charlie Parker Celebration in University News.

*Jacob Wagner and Chris Burnett  discussed Charlie Parker with Steve Kraske on KCUR’s Up to Date.

*Chris Burnett was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*Lonnie McFadden’s “Charlie Parker: Past, Present & Future” concert at the Gem Theater was previewed by The Kansas City Star.

*Mark Lewis, a saxophonist and flutist based in Seattle, will perform with Bram Wijnands at the Majestic on Friday, August 24, and Saturday, August 25.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Brad Scott- Finally got a chance to see A La Mode Friday night. Great band and I have to say that Jesica is one of the best jazz singers I've ever heard. #kansascityjazz #alamodejazz #jazz

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Album Review: Nate Nall Quintet- Places to Go

Nate Nall travels directly to the hard bop territory currently occupied by the likes of his fellow trumpeters Sean Jones and Terell Stafford on the opening track of Places to Go, his debut album as a leader.  For the next 50 minutes, Nall, a product of Bobby Watson’s jazz program at UMKC, confidently plants a flag in a destination that almost certainly meets with Watson’s approval.  Even though they only venture beyond the familiar terrain to take in the rugged vistas of “Destination Unknown” and the craggy canyons of “Starry Night,” Nall and saxophonist Matt Baldwin, guitarist Adam Schlozman, bassist Sam Copeland and drummer Zach Morrow capture plenty of dazzling auditory snapshots.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Now's the Time: The Charlie Hunter Trio

A trio led by Charlie Hunter will perform at the Bottleneck on Tuesday, August 21.  The guitarist isn’t as esteemed in the jazz community as the so-called “big three” of Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny and John Scofield, but his playing may be no less influential.  Hunter’s appearance is one of countless gigs listed at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Karrin Allyson’s new album Some of That Sunshine was released last week.

*Lonnie McFadden was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*“Herman Mahari” and “Mark Lowery” are among the musicians nominated in The Pitch’s “The Best of Kansas City 2018” poll.

*The playlist Nate Chinen created to promote his new book Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century includes two tracks by artists with Kansas City roots.  Logan Richardson’s “Anthem (To Human Justice)” and the Pat Metheny Group’s “The Way Up: Part Two” are represented.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Julia Mann- @RyanTedder I thought you might like this. I remember you visited Green Lady Lounge when you were here in Kansas City. Kansas City's #1 jazz bar, The Green Lady Lounge, now has it's own radio station streaming live jazz played exclusively by KC musicians!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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.)