Monday, August 11, 2008
Grading the Folly's New Season
Put yourself in Doug Tatum's shoes.
Among the considerations of the Folly Theater's executive director when scheduling the annual jazz series are pleasing his moneyed patrons, retaining the allegiance of aging core supporters, developing a younger audience and securing artists who can fill seats.
It's an exceedingly challenging proposition. While the end result means that Cecil Taylor isn't coming to Kansas City, Tatum largely succeeded in booking a varied, interesting set of shows for the forthcoming season.
Here's Plastic Sax's initial verdict on each of the seven concerts. I realize it's an insolent and presumptive act, but I assign a grade to each booking.
Dave Brubeck- October 2
The Folly should continue to book the 87-year-old pianist as long as he continues to tour.
Stefon Harris- November 22
The young vibraphonist is precisely the sort of forward-looking, innovative artist favored by Plastic Sax. Even so, he's not exactly a household name.
Roberta Gambarini- December 13
This is the Folly's most suspect booking. The vocalist has little name recognition. While her mainstream cabaret style will please the swing era set, her approach is probably too conservative to interest a young audience.
John Scofield- January 31, 2009
Plastic Sax isn't personally excited about the guitarist's increasingly close relationship with the jam band sound and corresponding audience, but Scofield should attract the next generation of jazz fans.
Kevin Mahogany's Kansas City Review- February 28, 2009
A slam dunk. Mahogany's homecoming should be triumphant.
Terence Blanchard- April 4, 2009
The two best jazz concerts I've witnessed at the Folly were Tito Puente in the '90s and Roy Hargrove last year. Even though Blanchard is today's equivalent of Quincy Jones, I don't anticipate his measured approach to elicit the same level of excitement.
Esperanza Spalding- May 16, 2009
She's the "it" musician of the moment in the jazz world. If the current buzz behind the young and beautiful artist continues to build, Spalding could be a huge hit by the time May rolls around. On the other hand, her momentum could fizzle out just as easily. The risky booking delights me.
Overall grade (based soley on who's appearing, instead of on what might have been): A-
All shows are listed at the Plastic Sax Jazz Calendar.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)