Thursday, February 26, 2009

Now's the Time: Kevin Mahogany

Before achieving international acclaim as a jazz vocalist, Kevin Mahogany regularly performed in a variety of contexts at Kansas City joints like Jimmy's Jigger. Plastic Sax fondly recalls his versions of hits by the Temptations, Randy Travis, Luther Vandross, Jon Hendricks and Joe Turner. Mahogany returns to Kansas City Saturday for a show at the Folly. Joe Klopus notes Mahogany's all-star band in his preview of the concert. Mahogany's sense of playfulness is shown to good effect in this video.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Vince Bilardo died Monday. He was one of the most prominent and popular Kansas City jazz musicians. In addition to being a great drummer, Bilardo worked for decades to promote Kansas City's jazz scene. He was, if I'm not mistaken, the founder of the Corporate Woods Jazz Festival.

*YouTube sensation Von Smith is a contestant on the current season of American Idol. The Kansas City-area resident has ardent fans among Kansas City's jazz community. Watch him croon.

*A complete idiot reviewed last week's Blue Note 7 concert at The Gem.

*Sue Vicory posted an interview with Karrin Allyson.

*Don't forget Thursday's Ben Allison show at the Blue Room.

*I can't find any video of Fat Tuesday jazz parade, but here's a great photo of last night's revelry. (Tip via Tony's Kansas City.)

*I suppose it's encouraging that Kansas City's most influential blogger monitors Plastic Sax, the most esoteric site in the Kansas City area. Tony recently noted that I post these updates "every damn week".

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, February 23, 2009


I attend several live music events every week.

Even so, it's startling when performances like Friday's jazz event at the Gem Theater are preceded by a lengthy acknowledgment of various sponsors. In this case, they included the ArtsKC Fund, the City of Kansas City, MO, the Institute of Museum & Library Services, the National Endowment of the Arts, the Missouri Arts Council and the Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund.

I don't begrudge the American Jazz Museum or anyone else involved with Friday's excellent event for accepting those funds, but I can't help but wonder exactly how these sponsorship decisions are made.

Why does the majority of funding seem to be dedicated to classical and jazz events? Would last week's jazz concert at The Gem and the classical performances at The Folly have transpired without the assistance of taxpayer dollars? And if these events can't validate themselves through intrinsic audience support should they even take place?

I suspect that the owners of Jardine's, The Phoenix and Soho 119 could make an argument that the jazz they featured Friday also had great artistic merit. Yet these private sector businesses were competing directly against government favoritism.

And what about other genres? Both The Czar Bar and The Record Bar offered bills loaded with acclaimed rock and folk-rock artists on Friday night. Are they any less deserving of government support?

Are members of the local underground hip hop scene eligible for money? How about bluegrass musicians? Gospel acts?

I'm not entirely comfortably with this use of federal, state and city tax dollars. And as much as I adored Friday's jazz show, I honestly can't say it was superior to the self-sustaining hip hop and rock shows I attended in the last week.

Fire away...

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Now's the Time: The Blue Note 7

Arguably the premier touring jazz show of the year comes to Kansas City tonight. The Blue Note 7 is an all-star group assembled to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records. The ensemble includes Bill Charlap, Lewis Nash, Nicholas Payton, Peter Bernstein, Peter Washington, Ravi Coltrane and Steve Wilson. Joe Klopus previewed the show.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Sam Hartle of The Kansas City Kansan covered a recent Kansas City Youth Jazz event. His report includes insightful video footage.

*Longtime Count Basie associate Louis Bellson died on Valentine's Day.

*Bob Brookmeyer's appearance in Columbia is previewed by Joe Klopus.

*The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival (a New York-based organization) commissioned a work by Will McEvoy's Mutasm.

*They're talking about Charlie Parker over in St. Louis.

*A performance by Imani Winds was reviewed by The Star.

*A local blogger notes an ironic jazz-related twist to a heated political debate.

*Karrin Allyson's forthcoming dates at Jardine's have been moved to June 17-18.

*Joel Francis is unveiling a list of "15 Jazz Greats To Emerge In the Last 20 Years." Will any local artists make the cut?

*A handful of jazz-related acts are participating in KKFI's band auction.

*Jazz Wax interviews Phil Woods.

*Kansas City's jazz scene has a fan in Tokyo.

*Former Kansas City favorite Lee is on fire over at The New Low Down.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Blue Note Records Listening Party

I wasn't the youngest guy in the room. That was just one of the encouraging aspects of the Blue Note Records listening party at the Blue Room last week. A wide range of jazz enthusiasts attended the lively event. Miles Bonny (below) spun as Bobby Watson and Elmer Jackson (above) offered insightful commentary. Steve Paul reflects on the party in today's Star. The Blue Note 7 perform at the Gem Theater on Friday, February 20.

(Original images by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Metheny Music Foundation's Scrapbook

Plastic Sax ranked the Metheny Music Foundation's contribution to the Kansas City-area's jazz scene as the seventh most important jazz-related event of 2008. This new video "scrapbook" serves as a reminder of the Foundation's value.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*This site is dedicated to music. Nevertheless, when a horrific and mysterious crime scene is discovered just a block from the American Jazz Museum at the Jazz District Apartments, it merits a mention in this space.

*KCUR's KC Currents talked to local jazz fan Elmer Jackson. Download the program here. The jazz segment begins around the 44:00 mark. Look for Plastic Sax's assessment of the Blue Note Records listening party at the Blue Room in a post next week.

*Of the seven Kansas City-related jazz nominees at this year's Grammy Awards, only Bob Brookmeyer triumphed Sunday. He contributed to the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra's Monday Night Live.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ida McBeth: An Appreciation

How many times have I seen Ida McBeth sing? Fifty? Seventy-five? Just like many music fans in Kansas City, I sometimes take the vocalist for granted.

With that unmerited negligence in mind, I dedicated early Saturday evening to a McBeth performance at Jardine's.

McBeth is better than ever.

Her striking physical beauty is intact and her dusky voice is now even more laden with emotion.

She completely invests herself in her repertoire. Songs including Irving Berlin's "You Can Have Him," Bill Withers' "Grandma's Hands" and the Rodgers and Hart standard "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" are unabashedly imbued with sorrow, bitterness and grief.

McBeth howls with anguish. Tears flow. Literally.

In peak form, McBeth is no less a distinctive and artistically important song stylist than Nancy Wilson, Nina Simone or Roberta Flack.

What's not to like? Well, I just don't dig McBeth's band. (Sorry guys.) I'd prefer either a smaller, more intimate presentation or a brassier, more commercial vibe. The current format just seems tired.

None of that matters, though, when McBeth is singing. She remains the best in Kansas City.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Count Basie Introduces Duffy Jackson

Drummer Duffy Jackson "puts the grin on the groove and aims the beat at your feet" in this brief live clip ostensibly shot at a Kansas City concert in '79 or '80. Still with the Basie Orchestra, Jackson was the clear audience favorite at the ensemble's 2007 performance at the Folly Theater. It's one of eight videos Jackson has recently posted at YouTube.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Columbia Tribune offers a detailed story about the Village Vanguard's February 18 concert in Columbia, Missouri. Its twists and turns touch on NEA grants, Bob Brookmeyer and Columbia jazz promoter Jon Poses.

*The American Jazz Museum will host "Stories From the Vine" a "history of 18th & Vine as told by those who lived it." The series begins February 14.

*The Pitch reports that Dwight Frizzell will host a KKFI show dedicated to Sun Ra.

*The Star ran a lovely tribute to Joan Kent Dillon, the woman who spearheaded the restoration of the Folly Theater.

*The Blue Room will host a plethora of performances by female artists in March in recognition of Women's History Month.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Is Jazz Dead? No, It's Dyed

Anyone driving along 12th Street Saturday night might have understandably presumed that a jam-band was performing at the Folly Theater.

Hordes of shaggy fans in tie-dye stood smoking outside the venerable venue. But neither String Cheese Incident nor a Phish side project were on stage. Instead, the bohemians were downtown to hear John Scofield play guitar.

Scofield has successfully collaborated with Medeski Martin & Wood and worked alongside Phil Lesh. Fans of those acts have subsequently latched on to Scofield.

While many members of the jazz community wring their hands about the dwindling audience for jazz, Scofield has gone out of his way to bring new fans into the fold.

The trend has been previously noted at Plastic Sax. While I don't spend much time collecting Grateful Dead bootlegs, I recognize that jazz's great hope, at least among American audiences, is likely in the patchouli-stained hands of Deadheads.

Incidentally, some jerk gave the show a mixed review. What an idiot!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)