Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Bobby Watson tells J.D. Considine a certain politician is a “jive motherf*cker” in a Downbeat profile.

*Brian Scarborough was interviewed on the Chicago Music Revealed vlog.

*Miguel Atwood-Ferguson’s subversive rendering of the 1950 album Charlie Parker with Strings at the 2012 Charlie Parker Festival at Marcus Garvey Park in New York is now available for streaming on YouTube.

*Gary Giddins will lead Joe Lovano, Charles McPherson, Grace Kelly and Antonio Hart in a discussion about Charlie Parker on August 29.

*Tweet of the Week: Howard Reich- Honoring Charlie Parker at his centennial (link)

*From Johnson County Community College: Our Recital Series are online this Fall! Our musicians are on stage right now recording their shows for your entertainment!... Now in their 32nd year, the hour-long recitals feature some of the most respected professional classical and jazz musicians in the Kansas City area… All events for this fall of 2020 will be presented VIRTUALLY with links to the previously recorded broadcast  prior to the events… Sept. 22 Doug Talley Quartet; Sept. 29 Bram Wijnands Duo; Oct. 6 Brian Scarborough Quintet; Oct. 13 Michael McClintock and Jeff Freling, guitars; Oct. 20 Adam Larson Quartet; Oct. 27 Joe Cartwright, piano; Nov. 3 Eclipse

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, August 10, 2020

Album Review: Brian Scarborough- Sunflower Song

I began tracking the steady ascent of Brian Scarborough even before I snapped the embedded photo of the young Kansas City trombonist at Homer’s Coffee Shop in 2017.  I’ve impatiently anticipated the release of his debut album since catching an astounding performance by Scarborough’s band at recordBar last year.  Released August 7, Sunflower Song is worth the wait.

Not only does the uncommonly elegant album showcase Scarborough’s talents as a trombonist and bandleader, Sunflower Song is an essential document of the artful component of Kansas City’s jazz scene.  In recruiting four of Kansas City’s most notable musicians- tenor saxophonist Matt Otto, guitarist Adam Schlozman, bassist Jeff Harshbarger and drummer Brian Steever- Scarborough is responsible for giving the rest of the world an opportunity to hear the magnificent sounds a small cadre of locally based fans of improvised music have enjoyed in recent years.  

Rather than dominating the nine tracks, Scarborough allows his bandmates equal footing.  The democratic collaboration pays homage to the cool West Coast jazz of the 1950s, an approach allowing Scarborough to honor the adventurous spirit of Bob Brookmeyer.  The late Kansas City native is Scarborough’s most obvious reference point.  The sound may be based on a venerable tradition, but there’s nothing stale about Sunflower Song.  

Serene on the surface, the album is deceptively subversive.  Otto invokes the underappreciated Jimmy Giuffre while Schlozman’s thorny solos reveal the influence of Thelonious Monk.  The stutter-step rhythms of “City Lights” highlight the synchronicity between Harshbarger and Steever.  Scarborough exhibits none of the youthful aggression you’d expect to hear on the debut album of a rising star.  

Immanuel Wilkins’ very fine Omega, the most prominent jazz album released August 7, is characterized by brash solos and innovative production tricks.  That’s clearly not Scarborough’s style.  Yet his reserved sensibility produced one of the most consequential acoustic jazz albums made entirely by Kansas City musicians in recent years.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Now's the Time: Ahmaad Alaadeen

Goofy jazz enthusiasts exclaim “Bird lives” as they celebrate the centennial of Charlie Parker’s birth this month.  The spirit of Ahmad Alaadeen also continues to resound in Kansas City.  Logan Richardson is among the late saxophonist’s notable disciples.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*KCUR surveys the Charlie Parker centennial celebration events in Kansas City this month.

*Calvin Wilson considers Charlie Parker’s legacy for KC Studio.

*Harvey Mason apparently references the conference rooms at the downtown Marriott hotel when he insists Kansas City has “lots of hotels…  with rooms named after famous jazz musicians… even streets may be named after them…” on Regina Carter’s new album
Swing States: Harmony in the Battleground.

*Tweet of the Week: ECMRecords- Finally,@PatMetheny’s complete ECM catalog of 11 albums, which includes such titles as Bright Size Life, Offramp, 80/81, is available as high-resolution masters for download and streaming: (link)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Exhibit Review: Saxophone Supreme at the American Jazz Museum

Chuck Haddix recently told me the Saxophone Supreme exhibit at the American Jazz Museum is like a CliffsNotes version of his 2013 book Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker(Plastic Sax review.)  A recent examination of the new installation Haddix co-curated with the American Jazz Museum’s Geri Sanders confirms his assessment.

Anchored by twelve handsome panels designed by Sean McCue of UMKC Libraries, Saxophone Supreme is a three-dimensional rendering of Haddix’s text.  Ephemera including album covers, biographies, performance contracts, artistic renderings and a menu from the second version of Birdland are displayed.  Several interactive sound clips are useful for visitors who bring their own headphones.  Here’s a link to a rendition of “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You”.  Haddix tells me it's otherwise unavailable.

I wholeheartedly recommend Saxophone Supreme to anyone who knows little about Parker.  Admission is free.  Yet nothing in the exhibit is new to me, nor does the array of artifacts deepen my understanding of Bird.  An edition of CliffsNotes can be an indispensable tool for an apprehensive student.  But when it comes to Parker, I insist on complete and unabridged editions in the form of a biographies such as Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Now's the Time: Carmell Jones

Carmell Jones was born in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1936.  He’s probably best known for his contribution to Horace Silver’s classic 1964 recording “Song for My Father”.  Locally based jazz enthusiasts regularly turn to Jones’ 1965 album Jay Hawk Talk.  Jones appears alongside Joe Henderson in Silver’s band in the embedded video.  The trumpeter died in 1996.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Mark Wiebe’s 5,000-word examination  of economic and racial disparities in the testing and treatment of the coronavirus centers on the late Brandon McRay.

*Mike Dillon was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*We the People’s latest single is titled “Worst Nights”.

*Birdsong, Champion Fulton’s tribute album to Charlie Parker, will be released August 28.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Charlie Parker- Available for pre-order now, the rare 1955 12”, The Magnificent Charlie Parker. The collection contains the classics, “Au Privave,” “She Rote,” “Star Eyes,” “Lover Man” and “In The Still Of The Night.” Available everywhere August 7th! (link)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)