Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Steve Paul offers his take on the year in Kansas City jazz.

*Pat Metheny's Day Trip is ranked at #38 in the Village Voice's annual jazz critic's poll. In the reissue category, Mosaic's Lester Young/Count Basie title came in third while a 1948 date by Charlie Parker claimed eighth place. The vast disparity between the relevance of Kansas City's old and current jazz scenes remains deeply troubling.

*Did you know that Kansas State University offers a course in Kansas City jazz? An excitable and sadly misinformed blogger writes about his eagerness to attend the class. Alas, he believes that Jay McShann is still alive. If only it was so...

*In a potentially troubling development for jazz purists, Jardine's booked blues artist Millage Gilbert for a late show on January 3. Here's an excerpt of the club's press release: "Many, familiar with this town's worldwide reputation for Jazz, are less aware of our (even larger) Blues community. In truth, most of Kansas City's historic jazz figures, Basie, Turner, Parker and the rest, were as much stars of Blues as well as they were of Jazz. " It's a topic frequently pondered by Plastic Sax.

*Steve Penn provides an update on the Coda Jazz Fund.

*The Star quotes Andrew Zender of the American Jazz Museum about ticket sales to the Blue Room's New Year's Eve event.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Robert Graham, 1938-2008

Artist Robert Graham is dead. His appropriately gargantuan Charlie Parker piece was installed in Kansas City's jazz district in 1999. I absolutely adore it, and not only because I believe that the saxophonist's full face resembles my own. The sculpture gives a sense of Parker's wit, grace and genius. Perhaps Graham's death will bring additional attention to the outstanding work and to Parker's legacy.

(Original image of Graham's Parker sculpture by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*James Zollar, a trumpeter scheduled to perform tonight (December 26) with Bobby Watson at the Blue Room, is the subject of Joe Klopus' weekly column. Klopus spoke to Brad Cox last week.

*The geek wizard behind Plastic Sax was a guest on KCUR's Up To Date December 19. I was delighted to discover that host Steve Kraske is an enthusiastic reader of Plastic Sax.

*Incidentally, San Diego jazz musician Craig Pilo was featured at Plastic Sax's sister site, There Stands the Glass, the day of the KCUR broadcast. Why? He voluntarily reached out to me and sent me his latest album. I'll remind Kansas City musicians that they're welcome to follow Pilo's lead.

*Jason Harper recounts a performance by the People's Liberation Big Band.

*A "Sunday Night Concert Series" featuring national artists commences at Jardine's in January. Check the Plastic Sax jazz calendar for listings.

*A blogger reviews the menu at Jardine's.

*Joel Francis previewed the Mongol Beach Party reunion.

*Steve Penn notes a jazz-related tale of courage.

(Original image of western Kansas by Plastic Sax.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Spirits All Around Me

Julia Lee is "afraid ol' Santa won't be coming." The band on this '47 date includes Vic Dickenson on trombone, Benny Carter on sax and Sam "Baby" Lovett on drums. That's Lee on piano. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot?

There's nothing like ringing in the new year in true Kansas City fashion with a renowned jazz band. Perhaps the musicians will precede a swing version of "Auld Lang Syne" at midnight with "One O'Clock Jump" by Count Basie or Charlie Parker's "Confirmation."

Unfortunately for local readers, finding that famous Kansas City feel on New Year's Eve will require some extra effort in 2008.

Last year Bobby Watson played at the Blue Room on New Year's Eve. NPR broadcast Karrin Allyson's live performance in Kansas City two years ago. No such obvious choice for the serious jazz lover is available in Kansas City this year.

Neither of Kansas City's two premier jazz clubs will have a traditional jazz band on stage at midnight on New Year's Eve. The Blue Room is going with Heat Index, a fine R&B and soul-oriented band. And Jardine's has booked the popular blues-based artist Dan Doran. The wonderful Ida McBeth plays from 8-10 p.m. at the Blue Room while the excellent cabaret group Alacartoona plays an early show at Jardine's.

Why? It's only speculation on the part of Plastic Sax, but these savvy clubs know that they need to fill their rooms on one of the year's biggest nights. That might not happen with a jazz act, so the clubs are opting for safer, audience-pleasing choices. I don't blame them. Perhaps the money they make on New Year's Eve can subsidize additional jazz programming in 2009.

Jene Osterheldt's Monday column was a huge help to Plastic Sax. Only because of her do I know that Alice Jenkins is at Cafe Trio. And while radio advertisements had informed me that "two live jazz bands" were peforming at the annual Omega Ball at the Sheraton Overland Park Convention Center Hotel, Jene identifies them as TC Dixon and the KC All Stars Jazz Band. (Before you ask- I don't know who they are, either.)

Other options include Stephanie Laws at Benton's, Dan Thomas at the Phoenix and jump blues act Grand Marquis at Michael Smith at 1900 Main. The jazz-friendly Miles Bonny is booked as a dance DJ at Crosstown Station.

An attractive alternative might be to head to the Lodge of the Four Seasons at the Lake of the Ozarks for Candace Evans.

Edit: Doug Talley will be performing in a trio format at Zest, 106th and Mission Road in Leawood.

Where will you find Plastic Sax on New Year's Eve? I like to celebrate in the middle of a mosh pit.

(Original image of a typical Friday night at Jardine's a punk rock show at the Beaumont Club by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bobby Watson: KC's Premier Soloist

Is any jazz musician in Kansas City capable of reeling off a more viscerally entertaining and intellectually stimulating solo than Bobby Watson? Harold O'Neal, Loren Pickford and Bram Wijnands are possible contenders. Still, it's difficult to imagine any artist topping Watson's display in this recently posted video.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Steve Paul composed an engaging profile of Megan Birdsall. His piece indicates that the vocalist's next recording project may not please jazz purists.

*Congratulations! "The American Jazz Museum pleased to announce that the event program from the 4th Annual Rhythm & Ribs Festival was recognized at the 6th Annual Philly Awards as a 1st Place Winner in the Special Event Publications category."

*In a column about changes at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Jason Whitlock wrote, "An up-to-date Hood Pass is a requirement for leading the museum."

*Lee Ingalls spotted a photograph of a recent Scamps performance.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Ten Most Important Jazz-Related Events and Stories of 2008

One step forward and two steps back. The aphorism aptly summarizes the year in Kansas City's jazz scene. Most but not all of the news was bad. There were just enough positive events and encouraging developments to allow a glimmer of hope. Perhaps the music's slide into commercial and popular irrelevancy isn't irreversible.

1. Ed Fenner. It speaks to the increasingly fragile condition of Kansas City's jazz scene that the death of a fan is the year's biggest story. But Fenner, who died May 18 at 71, was no ordinary fan. Plastic Sax heard many well-intentioned promises at Fenner's memorial service. Alas, few of those pledges have been realized.

Other losses on our scene were the deaths of jazz promoter and sponsor Butch Berman, retailer and musician James DeRigne, blues man King Alex Littlejohn, Scamps member Earl Robinson and Lee Young, brother of Lester. As the country song goes, "who's gonna fill their shoes?"

Adding insult to injury, the Kansas-based International Association of Jazz Educators filed for bankruptcy.

2. The Phoenix Rises. The downtown club reopened in November. It's too soon to judge its vitality, but it sure is nice having it back.

3. Ups and Downs at 18th and Vine. The jazz district lost the popular Peachtree Restaurant in 2007. This year, however, Harper's established itself as the district's new fixture and the Kansas City Blues & Jazz Juke House opened. A new parking lot was built in proximity of the Charlie Parker sculpture. The Rhythm & Ribs festival transpired even without Patti Austin. And in a biter disappointment to Plastic Sax, the Mutual Musicians Foundation's Friday evening Rush Hour jam session was discontinued.

4. Love You Live. Win some and lose some. The Plaza III discontinued its live jazz format. Bar Natasha, a jazz-friendly cabaret, shuttered. The Mango Room, a downtown restaurant that regularly featured live jazz, also closed. The Midland Theater reopened. It's beautiful, but Norman Brown has been the sole jazz act to perform on the refurbished stage. The excellent jazz series at the Folly and the Gem, thankfully, both continue. The Blue Room maintains an exceptionally vital schedule. And the Record Bar is transformed into a jazz club two nights a month.

5. The Role of Jardine's. Jardine's becomes increasingly important as other clubs close. The decision to invest in a new piano is a very encouraging signal. It's true that an increasingly large number of the bookings can't be characterized as jazz acts, but the Jardine's calendar continues to show a savvy balance of art and commerce.

6. Jazz In the Woods? The annual Johnson County event continues to morph into a blues/oldies/country festival. Only one local jazz artist- Megan Birdsall- appeared this year. The headliners at the three-day event were '70s funksters The Average White Band, blues act The Fabulous Thunderbirds and country band Lonestar.

7. The Methenys Step Up. The Metheny Music Foundation established itself as an important contributor in the community with a benefit concert starring Pat. Funds have already been awarded to area students.

8. Radio Radio. KKFI cut its jazz programming to two hours each weekday. Plastic Sax isn't terribly concerned about the development; internet, cable and satellite radio provide an embarrassment of riches on demand. KKFI's decision merely reflects Kansas City's diminishing interest in jazz. And to KCUR's credit, the public radio station produced several excellent segments on local jazz artists.

9. Little Jazz Bird. Why has so much attention been accorded to Megan Birdsall's medical problems? Her struggle represents more than just a compelling story about a rising star. Should Birdsall break out, the accompanying rising tide might lift the entire scene.

10. Plastic Sax. The future of Plastic Sax is in jeopardy if the economy doesn't improve. Just kidding. I don't accept advertising or underwriting. It costs just ten dollars a year to keep Plastic Sax afloat. I'll soldier on in spite of the complete indifference of most musicians and the open disdain of many members of Kansas City's jazz establishment. Plastic Sax has offered 135 unique posts about Kansas City's jazz scene in 2008. That's a lot of jazz.

Here's Plastic Sax's year-end summary of 2007.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Now's the Time: Roberta Gambarini

The audience at the Folly Theater Saturday night is almost certainly going to adore Roberta Gambarini. The Italian jazz vocalist's mainstream swing is an ideal match for the sensibilities of Kansas City's core jazz audience. As this video demonstrates, Gambarini is in the tradition of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae. Joe Klopus' very helpful summary of Gambarini's career appears in today's Star (link not yet available).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*KCUR aired a compelling interview with Bobby Watson. Steve Paul covered the Watson show previewed on the radio broadcast. Paul also took notes at a performance by Jake Blanton. A Star reader enjoyed Watson's gig.

*Celebrated Kansas City blogger Midtown Miscreant reports on some troubling trash near Charlie Parker's grave in Lincoln Cemetery.

*The battle over the estate of bandleader Billy Tipton has a Kansas City connection. I'm so confused! Here's Tipton's rendition of "Sweet Georgia Brown."

*Kansas City-related jazz artists received seven Grammy nominations. Steve Paul lists the nods to Pat Metheny, Karrin Allyson, Count Basie and Lester Young. Bob Brookmeyer was also recognized.

*An interesting story about the former programming director of Warrensburg's KTBG touches on the station's abandonment of a jazz format in 2001.

*The Pitch gives Plastic Sax a generous shout-out regarding our updates on the Phoenix jazz club. Can a Pulitzer be far behind?

*Thursday's Al Jarreau concert at the Midland has been canceled.

*Here's the complete text of an email sent by Jardine's this week:

Jardine's Thanks You!

To all of you who purchased a piano "key" we invite you to the first official Society Charter Member of the New Piano appreciation party Sunday December 14 from 5 to 7 with Bram Wijnands' Trio.

Appetizers and Soft Drinks Provided! The first half of the evening will be exclusive to those who have contributed to the new piano, then we will open up to the public (minus the free stuff!!) at 7pm. If you know of someone who would like to contribute bring them along.

Anyone who would like to become a member come on by and put your name on a key! The contribution is $100.

We plan on holding these events once a month. Eventually we will have an actual keyboard on the wall with all the members names on the keys.

Many "special" keys have been spoken for (Marilyn Maye got middle C!) but maybe yours is still available. Here is our Current List of Contributors:

Craig Akin, Karrin Allyson, Roger Atkinson, David Basse, Megan Birdsall, Miles Bonny, Carrie Brockman,Walter Bryant, Demasters Insurance, Kay Dennis, Tim Doherty, Dan Doran, Bill Doty on memory of Ed Fenner, Millie Edwards, Sharon Eiker, Christine Garvey, Angela Hagenbach, Greg and Kathy Halstead, Mike Kaplan, Suhud Koker, Howard Lay, Ken Lovern, Mark Lowrey, Doreen Maronde, Marilyn Maye, Erin McGrane, Janet Miller, Michael Pagan, Steve Rigazzi, Kim Sivils, Paul Smith, Gerald Spaits, Mandy Stever, Mike White, Tim & Patti Whitmer, Roger Wilder, Todd Wilkinson, Lori Tucker & Ham, Sonya Yarmat, Eric Smith

(Original photo by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Jazz Carol Fest 2008

The annual Carol Fest at Community Christian Church serves as an excellent survey of Kansas City's mainstream jazz scene. Yesterday's rendition was no exception. Even Scrooge- a character sometimes identified with Plastic Sax- would have tapped his toes with vigor.

Here are a few of the evening's highlights:

*Millie Edwards was the clear favorite of the capacity audience of about 600. The louder she sang, the more they loved her.

*I preferred Ida McBeth's controlled, emotional reading of "The Christmas Song."

*Angela Hagenbach, accompanied only by James Albright's bowed bass and Tim Whitmer's piano, was also outstanding on "I Wonder As I Wander."

*Bram Wijnands shone brightly on "Let It Snow" and "White Christmas." He played accordion to great effect on the latter.

*Guitarist Rod Fleeman anchored the house band. He demonstrated impeccable taste and versatility on every selection.

*Folk musician Danny Cox was a nice addition. His heartfelt original song allowed Fleeman to cut loose a la Duane Allman.

*Jurgen Welge's fine drumming was punctuated by festive seasonal flourishes.

*Other participants included Max Berry, Tom DeMasters, Everett DeVan, Jim Mair, Al Pearson, Diane "Mama" Ray and Lucky Wesley.

(Original blurry image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Now's the Time: Sara Gazarek

Who's up for a road trip? Sara Gazarek performs Sunday in Topeka. Her wonderful performance in this simple video is capable of charming the skinny jeans off the most cynical of indie rock hipsters. Yet the California-based Gazarek does nothing to dismay the elder swing set. Karrin Allyson, Erin Bode and Norah Jones are advised not to look back- Gazarek is gaining on them.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Steve Paul's coverage of the Urban Noise Camp event at the Record Bar sheds additional light on the event featured at Plastic Sax last week.

*Joel Francis includes Dave Brubeck's October show at the Folly Theater in his Top Ten Concerts of 2008.

*The local NBC affiliate offers four sentences about a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this week at 18th and Vine.

*I'm working on my annual jazz-oriented guide to New Year's Eve. So far I've uncovered two places in Kansas City that will have jazz bands on stage when the clock strikes midnight. (Yes, that's a solicitation for help.)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

From the Ashes

Although a band had yet to set up, I was delighted to knock back a Pale Ale at the Phoenix last Friday night. The jazz venue- an increasingly endangered species in Kansas City- has reopened. The 8th Street tavern was doing solid business. Alas, I was one of the youngest people in the room. EDIT: (I'd link to the Phoenix's site, but none exists.) A reader came to the rescue: The Phoenix Jazz Club.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Urban Noise Camp

I've spent countless hours in The Record Bar but I've never seen or heard anything like this at the midtown venue. Mark Southerland's Urban Noise Camp is more art installation than music gig. Freaky, man, freaky.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Here's some compelling video documentation of a youth jazz program at Johnson County Community College. (Tip via a faithful Plastic Sax reader.)

*"Quick: how many living jazz artists can you name? Wynton Marsalis? OK, who else?" A concert preview for Jacky Terrasson in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggests attempting this alarming exercise on civilians.

*Saxophonist Steve Wilson is working on a project titled “Charlie Parker – Looking Forward and Backward."

*Plastic Sax's magic elves failed to find Steve Paul's review of Eldar at Jardine's. Paul mentioned it to me when I bumped into him at Saturday's Stefon Harris show.

*Pat Metheny made NPR's "Best CDs of 2008" list.

*Here's a report on an Oklahoma-style tribute to Marilyn Maye.

*Last week I expressed excitement that a new Johnson County restaurant would be featuring live jazz. It turns out that the Gaslight Grill has opened with a house band led by Lynn Zimmer. He lacks a website but I get the impression Zimmer plays Dixieland.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Stefon Harris at the Folly Theater

"Music is just a science of organizing sound into emotion," Stefon Harris said before he performed for an audience of about 300 Saturday night at the Folly Theater.

The concert was so affecting that a prize committee might wonder if Harris should be recognized for outstanding achievement in the category of music, science or psychology.

As Harris acknowledged in a fascinating pre-show "Jazz Talk" with Doug Tatum, his work with Blackout renders musical boundaries irrelevant.

"We're the hip hop generation," Harris said. "It would be a shame not to include that."

He freely admitted to admiring Rihanna, Radiohead, Coldplay and Kanye West. The contemporary awareness showed. The evening's highlights could have be mistaken for instrumental tracks from a classic Stevie Wonder session.

Keyboardist Marc Cary was responsible for much of the group's most intriguing sonic textures. Drummer Terreon Gully acted as a ridiculously efficient groove machine; young bassist Earl Travis was compelled to merely tag along.

Harris' athletic work on marimba and vibraphone- "it's just a bunch of metal and wood" he noted- was always in the service of the ensemble.

"It's not my sound," Harris said before the show. "It's our sound."

Maybe so, but the show's surprise standout was tough tenor Logan Richardson. The former Kansas Citian was subbing on the gig.

"It's extremely honest and open with emotion," Harris said of Richardson's approach. "It's riddled with all the conflict and grit that he has."

Based on his memorable performance Saturday, Richardson deserves a spot among Kansas City's saxophonist elite.

(Original photo of Stefon Harris and Doug Tatum by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Now's the Time: Stefon Harris

Vibraphonist Stefon Harris leads Blackout Saturday night at the Folly Theater. The group shares my eclectic sensibilities; I intend to buy a discount $15 balcony seat in the last two rows. (Note: Harris is not backed by Blackout in this fine video.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*"The day jazz died can be pinpointed with great accuracy: It was the day Charlie Parker put his alto sax to his lips and started sounding like Woody Woodpecker on speed." That's the opening line of an analysis of modern art in the Weekly Standard. The piece wonders why contemporary art has thrived while jazz "died a well-deserved death." Are you going to take that lying down, Kansas City?

*Joe Klopus chats with Stefon Harris. Klopus also previews the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra's Christmas concerts.

*The Grand Rapids Press interviewed Karrin Allyson.

*Hearne Christopher, Jr., catches up with Beena Rajalekshimi.

*I spotted a classified ad in the Star that read: "If you enjoy interacting with others, jazz music, and working in an upbeat, positive environment, come join our team. The Gaslight Grill is a dinner only restaurant with the exception of brunch on Sundays. We will be featuring... a live jazz band playing every Wednesday through Sunday." The address is 5020 W. 137th St., Leawood, KS, 66224.

*An elementary school teacher blogs about a field trip to the American Jazz Museum.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Want To Be Alone!


I've repeatedly chided Kansas City's jazz musicians for failing to adequately promote their careers. Only a few take advantage of all of the free promotional tools available. The absence of a handful of high-profile local artists on MySpace has been one of my particularly irksome pet peeves.

I decided to test my theory on Saturday, November 15. I checked that day's play statistics for approximately 200 artists between 5-6 p.m. The results were incredibly discouraging.

Only 13 Kansas City jazz artists had over ten play counts for the day. And I'm using a very liberal definition of both "Kansas City" and "jazz."

(Disclaimer: It's possible that I overlooked two or three artists while compiling this data.)

Kansas City jazz artists with 10-50 plays:
Chris Burnett- 18
Grand Marquis- 17
Jake Blanton- 13
D.J. Sweeney- 12
Mark Lowrey- 11
Brandon Draper- 10

Kansas City jazz artists with 50-100 plays:
Karrin Allyson- 76
Miles Bonny- 54

Kansas City jazz artists with over 100 plays:
Pat Metheny: 907
Krystle Warren- 481
Norman Brown- 275
Oleta Adams- 267
Eldar: 126

How do those numbers compare to those of top jazz stars?

National jazz artists:
Norah Jones: 7,723
Diana Krall- 1,981
Herbie Hancock- 1,488
Esperanza Spaulding: 1,119
Chris Botti: 1,019
Madeleine Peyroux- 645
Dave Brubeck- 637
Kirk Whalum- 323
Aaron Parks- 307
Fourplay- 295
Joshua Redman- 156
Roy Hargrove- 137
Erin Bode- 57
Branford Marsalis- 31
Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra- 25

I wondered if MySpace is just a forum for kids. With that in mind, I checked the play counts for artists appealing to an older demographic.

National artists with older audiences:
Michael Buble- 29,750
Sheryl Crow- 10,164
Chicago- 5,354
Barry Manilow- 3,955
Neil Diamond- 3,421
Michael Bolton- 2,441
Tony Bennett- 1,070
Rod Stewart- 394

I wondered if all of Kansas City's musicians- regardless of genre- suffered from a lack of interest. I took a random sampling.

Kansas City rock, hip hop and bluegrass artists:
Tech N9ne- 68,315
David Cook- 45,316
Jannelle Monae- 6,193
Get Up Kids- 3,740
Mac Lethal- 1,973
The American Life- 1,684
Vedera- 1,591
Skatterman & Snug Brim- 697
Rich the Factor- 564
Ssion- 359
Trampled Under Foot- 208
Beautiful Bodies- 183
D Will- 96
Shooting Star- 78
The Architects- 75
Reach -75
Event- 60
The Wilders- 49
Steddy P- 41
The Rainmakers- 11

MySpace play counts are probably slightly lower on weekends, but that didn't prevent a few of the music industry's top stars from racking up impressive numbers.

National superstars:
Beyonce- 1,413,857
T.I.- 1,235,708
Lil Wayne- 858,920
Akon- 781,525
Taylor Swift- 523,397
Britney Spears- 485,920
Katy Perry- 399,768
Kid Rock- 74,068
Metallica- 32,964

What conclusions can be drawn from this exercise? Sadly, it's that jazz is just not that popular. Kansas City jazz is even more marginalized.

And I admit it- I was wrong. Based on the results of this study, it's understandable why some Kansas City jazz artists make so little effort. It must seem like no one's listening.

So why do I dedicate a couple hours a week to Plastic Sax? Well, I love the music. I also think it's important. Kansas City's jazz scene deserves lively and objective documentation.

(Original image by Plastic Sax. I'm a popular guy.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Count Basie In 1979

There's a great deal of internal bickering at the Plastic Sax office complex about whether this site should focus on the past or the present. We take pride in staying on top of recent developments. Nothing makes us happier than promoting a promising young artist who might possess the talent and drive to push Kansas City jazz forward. That's why we lament the paucity of contemporary videos. In this era of $150 camcorders, why does it remain vastly easier to find old jazz footage than new material? That said, the Count Basie Five featured here is sublime. And how about Cleveland Eaton!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*A recent Plastic Sax commenter suggested that the Phoenix would soon reopen. And sure enough, a notice in the Star confirms it. The last line in the piece references live music. Hurrah!

*Joe Klopus previews Eldar's five-day run at Jardine's.

*Hearne Christopher, Jr., catches up with Carol Duboc.

*Kelley Hunt, an artist largely associated with blues and roots-rock, has a "Back to Kansas City"-themed gig Saturday at the Blue Room.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Plastic Sax Blip

I have good news for Kansas City-area jazz musicians- your music is not posted on file-sharing services.

Don't get too happy. The fact that the world's most passionate music fans are not actively listening to you is also bad news.

In April I introduced the Plastic Sax Muxtape. Copyright concerns forced Muxtape's closing. And 364 days ago, I initiated Plastic Sax radio at Pandora. That site has faced legal battles, but it's still fully operational.

An even better concept,, recently hit the scene. It pulls music files from across the internet and adds a social networking component to the mix. It's the musical equivalent of sliced bread. I seeded the Plastic Sax Blip with ten songs from artists associated with Kansas City.

The problem is that so few contemporary Kansas City jazz musicians have music available on the world's servers. Oh, there's plenty of Count Basie, Charlie Parker and Julia Lee. I tried to feature the likes of Alaadeen, Basse, Hagenbach, Pickford and Winslett. Nada.

I'll regularly add songs to the Plastic Sax Blip. I also encourage Plastic Sax readers to create their own accounts. It's ridiculously fun, easy and addictive. And local musicians- it's your call, but I implore you to consider sharing at least a portion of your music with the world. Like or not, it's the way it works in 2008.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Now's the Time: Joey DeFrancesco

Organist Joey DeFrancesco returns to the Blue Room tonight. While it seems like he's been around forever, DeFrancesco is only 37. He's never been shy about acknowledging his Italian heritage; this amusing reading of "Volare" is typical. Joe Klopus provides a nice career summary of the big man.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*A potentially incredible event is scheduled to begin at midnight Saturday (Sunday morning) at the Mutual Musicians Foundation.

12 O'Clock Jump is billed as a "free one hour live show... featuring the music of celebrated alto sax player Phil Woods and is presented by Theater League." Hosted by weatherman Bryan Busby, the event will include David Basse, Joe Cartwright, Tyrone Clark and Mike Warren. Two comedians and a "cutting contest" are also part of the bill.

A press release offered few details, but Plastic Sax conducted a brief email interview with a Theater League spokesperson. I learned that Phil Woods will not be appearing in person; "Bobby Watson is our guest artist, performing numbers by and associated with Phil"; the Theater League is funding the program; and that they "hope to go weekly" with 12 O'Clock Jump "by next July."

*It's tempting to read too much into a Star reader's recollection of his failed bid to create a giant saxophone in 1980s Kansas City. It's almost impossible to imagine a similarly ambitious jazz-related idea receiving any serious consideration a quarter century later.

*Jardine's warns that reservations are "a must" for Eldar's stint at the club November 16-20.

*Bebopified defends Eldar's new direction in a review of a recent show. It sounds as if staunch traditionalists will be challenged by the former Kansas Citian's new approach.

*Back To Rockville asked the author of 1,000 Records To Hear Before You Die to provide a list of "the five most essential recording artists from Kansas City." He named Charlie Parker, Bennie Moten, Jimmy Rushing, Lester Young and Big Joe Turner.

(Photo provided by the Theater League. And a loyal Plastic Sax reader merits special thanks for the tip on 12 O'Clock Jump.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Jazz Profile of Jay McShann

NPR is offering an excellent fifty-minute audio documentary of Jay McShann as a free podcast. Plastic Sax suggests you grab it before it's pulled down. Few sounds make me happier than hearing McShann's Oklahoma twang. And his music? It just doesn't get any better. Man, I miss him.

(I took this photo at McShann's poorly attended 2006 memorial service at the Gem Theater.)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Now's the Time: The James Ward Band

The James Ward Band is filling in for Ida McBeth at Jardine's this Saturday night. While the group's version of jazz isn't my favorite, they play precisely the kind of accessible, upbeat music that regularly fills area nightclubs with happy revelers. Matt Hopper and Gerald Dunn are among the band's members.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joe Klopus spotlights Jason Goudreu. If the trombonist has a web site or a MySpace, I can't find it.

*Jardine's promises "great pianists nonstop" and "surprise guests" for their "new piano marathon" on Sunday, November 2. Artists include John Brewer, Walter Bryant, Joe Cartwright, Everett DeVan, Dan Doran, Wayne Hawkins, Ken Lovern, Mark Lowrey, Paul Smith, Tim Whitmer, Bram Wijnands and Roger Wilder.

*Miles Bonny offers a free Soundtrack To a Presidency" R&B-oriented mix.

*Pete Dulin of Present interviewed Eldar.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Scary Thoughts

Plastic Sax fully endorses libertinism.

That said, the Halloween party at Jardine's described in a recent column by Hearne Christopher, Jr., sounds a little too kinky for me. Snuff Jazz, wonderfully depicted in this video, will be on stage.

Christopher's piece made me wonder about appropriate Kansas City jazz-themed costumes.

I suppose I could don vintage gear like the guys in Grand Marquis. But I'd rather not be a generalized jazz cat.

Would there be a respectful, dignified way to depict Charlie Parker? And would anyone besides Plastic Sax's readers know who Parker was? For that same reason, dressing as Count Basie or even Tom Pendergast might be an exercise in frustration.

With the help of a wig, gown and makeup artist, I'll bet I could make a great Marilyn Maye or Ida McBeth. But again, I don't swing that way. (McBeth, incidentally, is performing at the Blue Room on Halloween.)

Maybe I should just attend Halloween festivities as myself. After all, what could be creepier than an obsessive jazz blogger?

(Original photo by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Krystle Warren: Look At Her Working

I'm kicking myself. I really should have found a way to get to Krystle Warren's show at the Record Bar last weekend. Word on the street is that she's transformed herself into an innovative jazz-inflected artist. The former Kansas City resident failed to impress me the last time I saw her perform. She was doing a folk-oriented thing that I just couldn't appreciate. This recent cover of "Eleanor Rigby" was mentioned in a recent Star profile. It's fantastic. Is it jazz? Not exactly. And I don't care.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The current version of the Count Basie Orchestra will provide the soundtrack to this year's holiday season for tens of thousands of music lovers. A Swingin' Christmas, a collaboration with Tony Bennett, is one of 2008's most prominent new Christmas albums. Don't miss the wacky album cover.

*Steve Penn pays tribute to Luqman Hamza. "From time to time," Penn suggests, "It’s good to let such pioneers know that they won’t be ignored any longer." I concur with Penn's praise of Hamza. But it's pretty hard to properly pay attention to the man when he doesn't have any online presence. It sure would be nice to know, for instance, if Hamza has any forthcoming gigs. Could someone please address this woeful situation?

*The New York Times published a fascinating story about jazz benefactor Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter. A new book features her photographs and fresh details about her relationships with greats including Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk.

*Tim Finn profiled jazz-folk artist Krystle Warren. I've heard great things about her recent show at the Record Bar in which she was backed by some of Kansas City's best jazz musicians.

*The silent auction of Jardine's piano takes place November 1. The minimum bid is $7,000. Details are listed here.

*Robert Folsom reviewed Branford Marsalis' concert at Johnson County Community College.

*I know it's really ugly, but I continue to update the Plastic Sax Jazz Calendar with information musicians provide directly to me. If you're not there, you're not trying.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I just got off the phone with Bob Kendrick, director of marketing at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

I had called to inquire about the status of True To the Game, an album benefiting the museum. It features hip hop superstars Kanye West, T-Pain, Akon and Yung Joc.

The album was scheduled for release today, but I hadn't been able to find it. Kendrick told me that the record label and distributor decided to push the album back to February to coincide with Black History Month.

That got me to thinking about one of my pet ideas- an album benefiting the American Jazz Museum.

My model is Bird Up! The Charlie Parker Remix Project. The ambitious 2003 release features acclaimed rock, hip hop and electronic musicians rethinking Parker's sound. It doesn't always work, but it's never less than interesting.

I suggest that the jazz museum reach out to Kansas City's top hip hop artists and DJs. The initial list might include Tech N9ne, Mac Lethal, XV, Reach, Stik Figa, Heet Mob, Miles Bonny, XTA-C, Approach, SKU and Rich the Factor.

They could work with original recordings of Kansas City jazz legends. Even better, perhaps, Bobby Watson and his UMKC students could provide individually tracked cover versions of the classic sounds for the hip hop guys to manipulate.

Ideally, the local stars could pull in a few name ringers from outside Kansas City to give the project additional sales potential.

So, who's in?

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Now's the Time: The Glenn Miller Orchestra

Attention old white people: The Glenn Miller Orchestra plays two shows Saturday at the VooDoo Lounge. Even though it's very unlikely that any elderly folk will ever find their way to this blog post, I shouldn't kid around. The original band helped inspire Americans to win the war. And Miller gave his life for the cause. Besides, this stuff is smokin' hot.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*If asked to name the definitive song in the history of Kansas City jazz, I'd have to seriously consider the Count Basie Orchestra's rendition of "Li'l Darlin'". It's lovely, lush and unabashedly romantic. Neal Hefti, the composer of the piece, died Saturday.

*Chris Burnett was kind enough to implicitly refute my naysaying in his comment to the previous Plastic Sax post. He posted a photograph of the amazing autographs he snagged during last weekend's Art Blakey tribute at his MySpace blog.

*KCUR interviewed saxophonist Javon Jackson.

*A portion of David Basse's interview for Sue Vicory's forthcoming documentary on Kansas City's jazz and blues scene streams at YouTube.

*I'm not sure that a business feature in the Star gave Basse positive publicity. The money line: "Jazz vocalist David Basse played one of his CDs to help lull Welch to sleep."

*Photographer William Claxton, renowned for his work with jazz artists including Charlie Parker, died last week.

*Upojenie, a collaboration between Pat Metheny and Anna Marie Jopek, was reissued last week. (Found via

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I was upset when Dennis Winslett announced Friday afternoon that a panel session would start at least thirty minutes late. I'd been looking forward to hearing jazz greats Curtis Fuller, Javon Jackson and Bobby Watson address the topic: Blakey Training vs. Academic Training: Reflections of the Blakey Institution.

I had rescheduled my day so that I could attend the American Jazz Museum-sponsored discussion; the delay meant I'd be forced to miss it.

My anger, however, was displaced by sadness. Only five people were in the room fifteen minutes after the event's scheduled start time. Perhaps I shouldn't blame the musicians for being so cavalier with the time. Public indifference could inspire such behavior.

The sour experience so annoyed me that I decided not to buy a ticket to the Art Blakey tribute concert Saturday at the Gem Theater. Anyone who went to the show is encouraged to leave a review in this post's comment section.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Now's the Time: Art Blakey Tribute Concert

Plastic Sax feels very fortunate that he caught the Terence Blanchard/Donald Harrison version of the Jazz Messengers in the 1980s. Seeing drummer Art Blakey alternately chide and encourage his talented young charges was a remarkable experience. Blakey died October 16, 1990. Six alumni of his band- Bobby Watson, Javon Jackson, Joanne Brackeen, Carl Allen, Essiet Essiet and Curtis Fuller- perform Saturday at the Gem Theater. Trombonist Fuller solos at the 4:15 mark of this video, but viewers who skip forward will miss Wayne Shorter's transcendent statement. This fascinating chronology of Jazz Messenger membership is invaluable for jazz trainspotters.

(EDIT: Andrew Zender of the American Jazz Museum considers Blakey's contribution at Present magazine.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The American Jazz Museum and the Gem Theater will be busy Friday and Saturday. Scheduled events include tours, student band performances, lectures, award ceremonies and the Art Blakey tribute concert. A recent Steve Penn column focused on Saturday's "Health & Financial Fitness Fair."

*Plastic Sax wasn't the only jazz-related recipient of a Pitch "Best of Kansas City" award. Dennis Winslett received a Best Museum Tour Guide nod for his work at the American Jazz Museum.

*Jardine's recently posted a bulletin announcing "The Society of Charter Members of the New Piano." Members are assisting with the purchase of a new instrument for the jazz club. A "New Piano Marathon" is scheduled for November 2. The existing piano is for sale. That's all well and good, but at the top of my wish list for Jardine's is the simple hope that the kitchen and bar staff not blast punk band Rise Against when musicians are on stage.

*Jazz musician Mark Southerland is also a visual artist. He's been selected by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce to design a "Kansas Citian of the Year" award.

*An MP3 blogger offers a slice of funk by Mary Lou Williams. It's a revelation to me; I'd never heard this side of the pianist.

*A blogger reviewed a recent Bobby Watson concert in Canada.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Plastic Sax Is a Winner

Even Kim Sivils and Steve Rigazzi don't completely get it.

They've been savvy enough to invite me to their gigs and ask me about the booking policies of area clubs. But when I spoke to Kim at Jardine's last Friday, I discovered that she was confused about the intent behind Plastic Sax. (I write about Kim and Steve's music today at There Stands the Glass.)

Allow me to use the occasion of Plastic Sax winning the Pitch's Best Music Blog Award clear up misconceptions and answer commonly asked questions.

*I don't make a dime from this site. I'm beginning to suspect, however, that demanding advertising support and applying for grants might be the only way to be taken seriously by many key players in Kansas City's arts community.

*I do not believe that jazz is an inherently superior genre. Furthermore, I'm not slumming when I attend hip hop, punk rock, country and heavy metal concerts. I love all forms of music.

*I desperately want Kansas City's jazz scene to thrive. I don't hesitate, however, to report negative news. This approach regularly confuses musicians, clubowners and promoters accustomed to mindless cheerleading.

*My friend and colleague Joe Klopus at the Star isn't afraid to tell the truth. I initiated Plastic Sax only because the weekly appearance of his Jazz Town column left me wanting more. And while JAM has the best of intentions, its static online presence and rosy tone doesn't always appeal to me.

*I was so flabbergasted by the absence of a comprehensive list of area jazz links that I dedicated a weekend in July 2007 to creating the guide posted in the right column.

*I haven't picked up a saxophone since I was sixteen. The "Plastic Sax" title is intended as a peevishly disrespectful reference to the American Jazz Museum's famous relic.

*Since February, every image posted at Plastic Sax is an original photo.

*I'm accessible; email me at happyinbag(at)

*I recognize that Plastic Sax is far from perfect. Even so, I'm confident that it's the single most useful and comprehensive source for information and opinion about today's Kansas City jazz scene.

(Original images of Kim Sivils (top) and Steve Rigazzi (bottom) by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Now's the Time: Dave Brubeck

It would be terribly unfair to both Dave Brubeck and ticketholders to tonight's concert at the Folly Theater to suggest that the show will in any way resemble this classic performance with Paul Desmond. The 87-year-old pianist and composer shouldn't be expected to rehash hits from 1959. A blogger's summary of a recent appearance gives a sense of Brubeck's current approach.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Plastic Sax is astounded by the contributions printed in the program for last week's Kansas City Jazz Orchestra concerts featuring Steve March Torme. "Gifts... received between October 1, 2007 and September 1, 2008" are listed. Assuming each contribution did not exceed the minimum donation at each sponsorship level, the group received more than $162,000. That's extremely impressive.

*Pete Dulin of Present magazine interviews Jeff Harshbarger.

*Plastic Sax pal Corky Carrel shot Kirk Whalum's recent concert at the Gem for Present.

*A member of the Basie Orchestra shares his candid thoughts on the plight of today's jazz musicians in the comments to the previous post.

*Reading the excellent St. Louis Jazz Notes blog depresses me. The jazz scene across the state seems relatively vibrant. It's not just that artists like Jason Moran, Cedar Walton and Vinnie Golia performed there last week or will be there this week. It's the more modest efforts by St. Louis jazz fans and institutions that make me most jealous. A "jazz CD listening club" was just initiated. What a fun idea!

(Original image taken last week by Plastic Sax. Most readers will be able to identify the musicians, but you'll receive bonus points if you know where they're performing.)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Who Are You?

The majority of jazz fans here in Kansas City can be grouped into one of two categories. There's the aging white audience for whom Glenn Miller is still the king. These people can actually recall a time when jazz was popular music.

Then there are the primarily black fans in their 40s, 50s and 60s who came of age to Ramsey Lewis' The In Crowd and Grover Washington, Jr.'s Mr. Magic.

The first group's communal vigilance has been the bedrock of the local jazz scene. Area jazz clubs are vanishing as their numbers dwindle.

The second crowd's conception of jazz is far less rigid. Norman Brown, Earth, Wind & Fire, Najee and Mary J. Blige all have equal merit in this more liberal world view. While I applaud this perspective, it's not going to sell many tickets to a Cecil Taylor concert.

To be certain, there are at least a couple hundred misfits like me, relatively young jazz fans who support the music in spite of the indifference of our peers. Kansas City is also home to an astonishing number of jazz educators and students.

If the economy continues its downturn, the federal funds and the charitable grants that have propped up area jazz series and institutions might disappear. Toss in a rapidly aging fan base, and you have to wonder what's to become of jazz in this town.

Who's going to pay money to see the Count Basie and Tommy Dorsey ghost bands? What will happen to the careers of musicians like Alaadeen, Will Matthews, Loren Pickford and Tommy Ruskin?

I know there's no shortage of local musicians willing to step up. But will there be an audience to support them?

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sandomirsky & Wijnands

KANU recently spoiled my afternoon.

Even though I knew that the station diligently publishes its playlists online, I simply couldn't leave my sedan until I discovered who was responsible for the magical duet being broadcast. When the selection was finally back-announced twenty minutes later, I discovered that I'd been listening to a recording of a February 18 performance by Bram Wijnands and Gregory Sandomirsky from the Ruel Joyce series at Johnson County Community College.

The duo performed again this week at Community Christian Church. Luckily for fans of innovative music, the performance was filmed. Eleven selections are up at YouTube.

What the radio broadcast failed to reveal is the amusing physical interplay between Kansas City pianist Wijnands and Sandomirsky, the Associate Concertmaster with the Kansas City Symphony. Their playful antics don't disguise the revealing connections the men make between the worlds of jazz and classical music.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*John Kreicbergs cites "modest attendance" in his review of Tuesday's David Sanborn concert at the Uptown Theater. Hey, John- was the number over or under 500?

*A consultant who had previously advised Kansas City, Missouri, on development at 18th and Vine is receiving additional money from the city.

*Sue Vicory reports that her documentary film about Kansas City jazz and blues will premiere April 18th 2009. Here's her project's site.

*Joe Klopus interviews Pat Coil.

*A blogger fondly recalls an exhibit at the American Jazz Museum.

*Via There Stands the Glass: I hate the New York Yankees organization just a little less today. I practically fell off my couch last night when I heard Yankee Stadium's organist play a swinging version of Charlie Parker's "Yardbird Suite" during ESPN's broadcast of the final home game at the landmark. Hey, Kansas City Royals- I'm reluctant to suggest that you copy the Yankees, but how about replacing John Denver with Bird next season?

*Jazz Wax reports that Mary Lou Williams' Black Christ of the Andes is now available at iTunes.

*Pat Metheny appears on Charlie Haden's new Americana-oriented album.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Temporarily Suspended

I was quite annoyed Friday evening. Three days later, my aggravation has been replaced with concern.

I've been extolling the merits of the Mutual Musicians Foundation's Friday "Rush Hour" sessions since the program's inception. Offering a free Friday matinee jazz session in the historic building is a great idea that I've doggedly supported. Last Friday I dragged another potential convert to 1823 Highland.

We were met with a placard indicating that Rush Hour is "temporarily suspended." The Foundation's online event calendar indicated that Al Pearson and Heat Index would be performing. It also lists a September 26 program titled "Remembering the Ink Spots with Luqman & Lucky Wesley." I'd like to confirm this date at the artists' web sites, but um, neither man has one...

Do any Plastic Sax readers know what's going on?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Now's the Time: David Sanborn

That sound! Love it or loathe it, there's no denying that the tone of David Sanborn's saxophone has had an enormous impact on modern popular music. The 63-year-old's new album is being marketed as a tribute to David "Fathead" Newman, Hank Crawford and other epochal jazz and R&B saxophonists. Sanborn will undoubtedly emphasize that material when he performs Tuesday at the Uptown Theater.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The site documenting Miles Bonny's recent European trip is simply amazing.

*David Basse's 1989 album Count On Me is being remastered. Read about it here. Don't miss the free download.

*Al-Andaluz is featured in Present.

*Does federal funding of the American Jazz Museum qualify as pork? A local television station poses the question.

*Kansas City, Kansas, soul great Marva Whitney wrote a new blog post.

*A student praises UMKC's music program. It's unclear why he refers to Bobby Watson as "the late great Bobby Watson" when he clearly understands the jazz educator is very much alive.

*Have a spare $75? A house party is being held for The American Jazz Museum at a private residence on Friday.

*Some jerk reviewed Norman Brown's Summer Storm concert at the newly renovated Midland at AMC.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Grading the Gem's New Season

Plastic Sax graded the Folly Theater's forthcoming jazz concert series last month. I now turn my attention to the American Jazz Museum's Jammin' At the Gem 2008-2009 season.

My analysis is profoundly impacted by a bittersweet experience at the Gem last October. As I wrote at the time, Dee Dee Bridgewater's genre-bending performance was "like witnessing the inception of an extraordinary new art form." Yet the profoundly moving concert was poorly attended.

Kirk Whalum- September 20
As I've suggested many times in this forum, jazz must never stand still if it's to remain relevant. Whalum's music more closely resembles Ne-Yo than Charlie Parker; it will almost certainly fill the Gem.
Grade: B+

Tribute To Art Blakey- October 11
With all due respect to Joanne Brackeen, Essiet Essiet, Javon Jackson and Bobby Watson, this concert is most notable for the presence of Curtis Fuller. The ensemble's Blakey alumni have substantial careers. Yet it's the chance to catch 73-year-old Fuller, a cat who appears on the opening strains of 1957's Blue Train, that makes this date special.
Grade: B+

Blue Note 70th Anniversary Tour- February 20, 2009
I yawned when I first saw the listing for this event. Then I discovered who would be participating- Bill Charlap, Lewis Nash, Nicholas Payton, Peter Bernstein, Peter Washingtom, Ravi Coltrane and Steve Wilson. These relatively young guys are the premier musicians in today's classical jazz scene.
Grade: A-

New York Voices- March 21, 2009
Most vocalese makes Plastic Sax immediately reach for his Tom Waits albums. I'm sure this concert is the highlight of the Gem's season for many area concertgoers. It's not for me.
Grade: C

The Mingus Big Band- April 18, 2009
The brilliant jazz bassist and composer will have been dead for over thirty years come next April. So much depends on which version of the touring band comes to Kansas City. Much like Mingus, this concert is a real wild card.
Grade: B

Poncho Sanchez- May 9
The Latin jazz journeyman has appeared regularly in the Folly's series. His concerts are a guaranteed good time.
Grade: B

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Now's the Time: Tower of Power

What a weekend for fans of the commercial side of jazz! Trumpeter Chris Botti combines forces with the Kansas City Symphony tonight. Norman Brown's Summer Storm tour, featuring Alex Bugnon, Chante Moore and Paul Taylor stops at the Midland on Saturday. That same night, Tower of Power brings the funk to Ameristar. Go ahead and laugh at the gruesome visuals in the accompanying video. But the music is impeccable. What is hip, indeed.