Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Ten Best Jazz Shows of 2009

Here's a list of my ten favorite live jazz performances of the year. If you think you think you saw ten better jazz gigs in Kansas City, well, you may be right. I encourage you to post your picks as comments.

1. Esperanza Spalding- The Folly Theater
She's an intriguing jazz bassist today. She'll be a household name by 2019.

2. The People's Liberation Big Band- The Pistol Social Club
I'm down for almost everything this collective does, but their scoring of The Battleship Potemkin blew my mind.

3. Steve Coleman- The Blue Room
So out it was in.

4. Karrin Allyson- Jardine's
She's become a master.

5. Afinidad- The Folly Theater
A fresh approach.

6. The Blue Note 7- The Gem Theater
The all-stars were astounding.

7. Tony Bennett- The Midland Theater
The legend was backed by a jazz band.

8. Logan Richardson- Jardine's

9. The Hearts of Darkness- Crosstown Station
I wrote that the ensemble conveys "the spirit, if not the sound, of Kansas City's heyday."

10.Black House Improvisors' Collective- City Center Plaza
Fun, exciting and unrestrained.

(Original image of drummers Jeff Hamilton and Tommy Ruskin by Plastic Sax.)


Anonymous said...

Keeping it brief - here's three not mentioned in your top ten:

1. Kurt Rosenwinkel Standards Trio - The Blue Room. Mind blowing.

2. Jeff Hamilton Trio - Jardines. Tamir was incredible, the group was tight.

3. Dr. Lonnie Smith - The Blue Room. Jonathan Kreisberg was awesome the whole night.

Hermon Mehari said...

The two best shows I saw in KC are easily the most recent Logan Richardson performances at the Blue Room (I'll count it as one I guess!) and the Lionel Loueke Trio.

Logan had with him the greatest band he has had yet in KC. Joe Sanders, runner up in the recent Monk Competition for bass, made his music look easy. He has one of the best and biggest bass sounds I've ever heard a bass player have and an incredible sense of time. Joe was also one of the most creative bass players I've seen play Logan's music. Nasheet Waits was on drums, and he IMHO is THE drummer out there pushing the tradition forward (like Logan is on the saxophone). What he brought to the music was a restless, forward moving energy in the most musical sense possible. He has the ability to sound like he's playing free, but keep the time together. The pianist was Harold O' Neal, and he sounded as amazing as he always does, and he fit very nicely into Logan's group.

The Lionel Loueke performance was just as great! Like Logan's group, each member of the trio had a unique sound and approach. Their blend of Loueke's West African style and jazz was really cohesive, and did not sound forced. This was really refreshing to hear.

Perhaps the best thing about these groups is just that-- the fact that they played as a unit. The musicians are at such a high caliber, and they are constantly listening to the other members of the band. Music, to me, can be so much more powerful a force when everyone is on the same page and wanting to create it together.

Joel said...

Terence Blanchard's performance at the Folly last spring was incredible. I've seen several trumpet players on that stage - Wynton Marsalis and Roy Hargrove to name a couple recent performers - and Hargrove was more expressive and expansive than both.

The Bass Clarinet Player said...

hey thanks for thinking so highly of the Black House and be sure to come listen to us again on jan 15. we got Matt Otto and Chris Burnett to play ths time. The music keeps getting better. see you soon