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.)