Sunday, May 5, 2019

Grading the 2019-20 Season of the Folly Jazz Series


The Folly Jazz Series is a reassuring beacon of consistency on a jazz scene in which other longstanding institutions seem to be crumbling.  Unveiled last month, the strong 2019-20 bookings should provide Kansas City’s devotees of mainstream jazz with solace.  Season subscribers can purchase tickets on July 26.  Tickets to individual shows will be available August 16.

Branford Marsalis
October 4, 2019               
Saxophonist and bandleader Branford Marsalis is the most consistently interesting member of the first family of American music.  Marsalis will presumably appear with his quartet, one of the finest longstanding groups in jazz.
Grade: A-

Stefon Harris & Blackout
October 26, 2019                 
The vibraphonist and bandleader Stefon Harris is a self-described “thought leader.”  One of his best ideas is an insistence on surrounding himself with stellar young musicians.  In a 2008 appearance at the Folly, Harris’ band included the soon-to-be stars Logan Richardson and Marc Cary.  Here’s hoping this version of Blackout is equally auspicious.
Grade: B+

Pedrito Martinez
December 13, 2019           
Pedrito Martinez was named percussionist of the year by the Jazz Journalists Association last week.  The recent Tiny Desk Concert performance by the native of Cuba also showcases his engaging singing.
Grade: B+

Stacey Kent
February 22 , 2020               
While she’s since ceded the titled to C├ęcile McLorin Salvant, Stacey Kent was hailed as the most exciting new vocalist in jazz a few years ago.  The feathery touch of the American who rose to fame in England remains delightful.
Grade: A-

Luciana Souza
March 7, 2020
The Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza is married to the noted producer Larry Klein, an association that partly explains her exceptionally refined adult pop sound.  Souza should thrill Karrin Allyson’s many fans in Kansas City.
Grade: B

John Pizzarelli
April 24, 2020                     
John Pizzarelli is a crowd-pleasing traditionalist.  The most recent album by the guitarist and vocalist is a tribute to Nat King Cole.
Grade: B-

Plastic Sax conducted the same exercise in 2018, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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