Thursday, December 30, 2010

Billy Taylor's Trip to Kansas City

Billy Taylor died December 28. The pianist is seen here 52 years ago with a group of musicians associated with Count Basie's band. Taylor sounds excellent, but it's impossible to outshine Mr. Five by Five, Vic, Vice Prez and Buck. I could watch this brilliant clip all day.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Star published an overview of the year on Kansas City's jazz scene. It's a solid piece, but the author inadvertently overlooked a handful of noteworthy items. The Metheny brothers had a terrific year. Mike's adventurously eclectic 60.1 album is very good. Pat's Orchestrion project, which touched down at the Uptown Theater in May, challenged preconceived perceptions of the ways in which music may be performed. Also omitted were the deaths of prominent area jazz veterans Pete Eye and Oscar "Lucky" Wesley. And lest we forget, 2010 was also the year Curtis Got Slapped.

*Steve Paul praises the contributions of the People's Liberation Big Band.

*KCJazzLark makes another invaluable contribution to Kansas City's jazz scene with the unearthing of additional Jay McShann footage.

*Ink asks Hermon Mehari to pick favorites.

*Mark Lowrey blogs for the Midwest Music Foundation.

*Pat Metheny's Orchestrion is ranked #50 in the Village Voice's jazz critic's poll. Dave Holland, who will be at the Gem Theater on January 22, is represented at #12 with Pathways.

*Stephanie Laws has "a case of the Mondays".

*Steve Penn notes the holiday efforts of the Coda Jazz Fund.

*Here's the EPK for An Open Letter to Thelonious, Ellis Marsalis's new album. The pianist will perform at the Folly Theater on February 11.

*From Jim Mair: The Kansas City High School All Star Jazz Ensemble will headline Tim Whitmer's series Spirituality and All That Jazz on Wednesday, January 5, at 7:00pm at Unity on the Plaza... The group is under the direction of Doug Talley.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Doing Something Mean To It

During the fascinating pre-concert discussion at the Folly Theater on September 25, a member of The Bad Plus defended his complicated relationship with jazz. He and his two band mates, he explained, had developed their passion for jazz in an entirely organic fashion. No one introduced them to the music. Instead, their innate curiosity led them to the genre.

I came to jazz in much the same fashion. And like the men in The Bad Plus, I retain my love of popular music. I don't trust any musician under the age of forty that hasn't listened to Kanye West's new album. It's disingenuous for contemporary musicians to insulate themselves from the culture at large. I don't necessarily want jazz musicians to emulate West's music, but they at least owe it to themselves and their audiences to know the score.

Crosscurrent, a Lennie Tristano-inspired band, perform at Jardine's tonight. Its music is excellent. Because a few of the band's members bear a faint resemblance to these caricatures, the band- at least in their current form- are unlikely to find a big audience. Crosscurrent's insistence on purity, while admirable, is confining.

I'll always prefer the guys who come from a background and mindset more akin to my own. A prominent Kansas City-based jazz musician, for instance, was a member of '90s rock band Grumpy. It wasn't a great band, but the musician's music today is undoubtedly richer for that experience.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

James Moody on Charlie Parker

"And I'd like to say that Charlie Parker was my idol... And I'm saying that to say I'm just glad that I'm able to be able to be here with the wonderful ensemble to play some of the things that Charlie Parker did. Never the way he did- but at least attempt, you see. I'm 74 years old I've got another 74 to try it." -The late James Moody's introduction to the embedded 1999 performance of "Parker's Mood."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*A free download of the Black House Improvisors' Collective's December 10 performance (image above) is available here.

*A new Interstring recording is noted by Joe Klopus.

*KCJazzLark endorses five albums by Kansas City jazz artists.

*Steve Penn provides a recap of the trip Bobby Watson and his UMKC students took to Japan.

*Robert Folsom reviewed Kenny G's concert at the Midland Theater.

*Tony's Kansas City shares Plastic Sax's enthusiasm for Mark Lowrey.

*Lee Ingalls, a long-time advocate of Kansas City's jazz scene, sang "Fly Me To the Moon" last week.

*A self-appointed know-it-all wants the Kauffman Center to book Keith Jarrett and instead of Willie Nelson.

*Lee Hill Kavanaugh wrote a warm remembrance of Steve Herold.

*Tweet o' the Week: americanjazzkc: Tix are still available for NYE at the Blue Room with Bobby Watson, Pam Watson, Pearl Thuston-Brown, Soul's Poem & Gate's BBQ! 816-474-6262

(Original image of the Black House Improvisors' December 10 performance by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Plastic Sax's Top Ten Concerts and Albums of 2010

A couple years ago a Plastic Sax reader suggested that I reveal my personal musical preferences. I demurred. Keeping my tastes to myself seemed appropriate at the time. As this site has become more prominent, however, whatever veil of anonymity once existed has been shredded. Here are my favorite jazz albums and jazz performances of 2010.

1. Bobby Watson- The Gates BBQ Suite
2. Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green- Apex
3. Esperanza Spalding- Chamber Music Society
4. Alaturka- Tamam Abi
5. Mulatu Astatke- Mulatu Steps Ahead
6. Brad Mehldau- Highway Rider
7. Hearts of Darkness (self-titled)
8. The People's Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City (self-titled)
9. The Bad Plus- Never Stop
10. Mark Lowrey- Live at Jardine's

1. Marilyn Maye- Jardine's
2. Bobby Watson- Blue Room
3. Matt Otto Quartet- Jardine's
4. Pat Metheny- Uptown Theater
5. Stefon Harris and Blackout- White Recital Hall
6. Deborah Brown- Blue Room
7. Alaturka- Jardine's
8. The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra- Yardley Hall
9. The People's Liberation Big Band- Record Bar
10. Bobby Watson with students- GiGi's Jazz Inn

(Original image of Sachal Vasandani at the Folly Theater by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Now's the Time: New Jazz Order

One of the best-kept secrets on the Kansas City jazz scene regularly occurs Tuesdays at Harling's. Clint Ashlock leads young musicians in a traditional big band setting. While the venue's men's room leaves something to be desired, there's no cover and drinks are cheap. Ashlock recently posted the following note about his December 21 gig: Next Tuesday, join New Jazz Order big band at Harlings from 9-12. Great special guests, some Ellington Nutcracker and other irreverency.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*KCJazzLark announced that he's been hired as Orchestra Manager of the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra. In a subsequent post, he appreciates the People's Liberation Big Band.

*Miguel DeLeon was interviewed by Susan B. Wilson of KCUR.

*KC Metropolis offers a review of Sachal Vasandani's concert at the Folly Theater.

*Chris Burnett lists his top albums of 2010.

*Tony's Kansas City recommends Dave Stephens' Christmas album.

*Fundraising efforts for next year's Prairie Village Jazz Festival have begun.

*Streetside Records in Westport is closing in January.

*James Moody died December 9. The saxophonist's 2003 performance at the Folly Theater was his last in Kansas City. (I think.)

*Tweet o' the Week: JazzWinterlude: Welcome to Johnson County Community College's Jazz Winterlude Twitter feed. We'll be sharing fun facts about the musicians playing there.

*From Jeff Davis: Sir Threadius Mongus returns to Jardine's for 1-01-11, featuring a new lineup for the new year, Jeff Davis, Matt Otto, Andrew McGhie, Steve Lambert, Russell Thorpe, Bryan Hicks and Pat Adams... Andrew McGhie Quintet featuring Harold O'Neal, Hermon Mehari, Dominque Sanders and Ryan Lee start the night off at 7:30 p.m.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mark Lowrey: The Plastic Sax Person of the Year

While I futilely fret about the diminishing audience for jazz, Mark Lowrey is actively addressing the problem. His ongoing "musical evangelism" represents Kansas City's best hope for cultivating new jazz listeners. Lowrey didn't know that he was going to be named Plastic Sax's Person of the Year when he recently participated in the following email interview.

Plastic Sax: I suspect that you are Kansas City's most active working musician. Is that true?

Mark Lowrey: I can't say for sure. I love to play, and the instrument that chose me lends itself to playing in a wide variety of styles and as a solo artist.

PS: Which of your many gigs gives you the most satisfaction?

ML: Very difficult question- as you know, I have diverse interests. Playing straight-ahead jazz gives me very different emotional connections than, say, tango or folk/pop, etc. I guess I would have to say that the best I feel is in any group where I can be proud of a performance and at the same time it is apparent that the audience has been moved in some way.

PS: Are you able to make a living as a musician?

ML: Yes. I supplement my performance income with a very part-time position at Hallmark. My title is "Creative on-call multimedia sound composer." Among other things, I get to write music that goes in stuffed animals. I love it, but it's only once in a while.

PS: How much time do you spend conceptualizing, practicing and rehearsing special projects like the "Black Friday" show?

ML: Every show is different, but for things like Black Friday, the Radiohead Tribute, etc., let's just say that I'd rather not calculate the income next to the hours spent.

PS: A lot of the things you do probably aren't cost-effective. How do financial considerations effect your art? Have you ever declined to pursue an idea because it looked like a money-loser?

ML: I look at bigger "one-off" shows in two ways that validate them.

A) If we (musicians) were really in this for the money, there would be something fundamentally wrong with our brains. This stuff is FUN!

I suppose I could just play in jazz clubs and play "All of Me" every night and never need to rehearse, practice, or hustle the media for coverage. It would be enough to pay the bills, but I get bored. I'm not saying that I don't like straight-ahead jazz- Red Garland is in my CD player right now.

B) Some of these less financially sustaining shows in the short term I believe are doing good things for me in the long term. I think it's important to appreciate the money gigs for the fact that they feed you. However, the gigs you do for the love of music and the desire to share this love with other people can feed you in a much different way.

PS: Do the regular misspellings of your name bother you?

ML: Ha! It happens so often that I don't freak out about it. One thing that bothers me (and it happens more than you'd think) is when I have to correct a journalist, club owner, or promoter more than one time.

PS: You've seen several of your collaborators leave Kansas City for bigger scenes like New York. Are you ever tempted to test the waters elsewhere?

ML: Yes, but I haven't tapped this town out yet. There are so many great musicians here still and the scene is on a rise. Plus, with the low cost of living and my established relationships here in KC, it's easier to put new projects together with good hope for success.

PS: Which Kansas City musicians do you most respect?

ML: So many - not the full list - here's what I can come up with in 60 seconds in no particular order. Hermon Mehari, Doug Auwarter, Roger Wilder, Shay Estes, Les Izmore, Brandon Draper, Lonnie McFadden, Donovan Bailey, Barclay Martin, Wayne Hawkins, Matt Otto. This list could be really long.

PS: What did you hope to accomplish with your new solo piano album? Are you pleased with the result?

ML: I wanted it to sound like me, which I guess is all one can hope for. It sounds like me on a good day. So I accomplished what I set out to. Albeit I have a long way to go, and a solo recording has a profound humbling effect on me. My friends and colleagues have helped me to minimize the over-self-criticism.

PS: What are the best and worst aspects of Kansas City's music scene? How could it be improved?

ML: Creativity abounds and barriers are being broken down. We still need KC citizens to "own" the fact that we are a jazz town. We need KC to take pride in and support live music. We need you.

PS: Are projects like the Radiohead tributes, the jazz/hip hop collaborations and your work in the Barclay Martin Ensemble a deliberate attempt to bring new fans to jazz, or do you even worry about that sort of thing?

ML: That is close to exactly why I do many of these things. Hermon and I call it "Musical Evangelism."

PS: Do you anticipate that traditional/straight-ahead/mainstream jazz will be played in Kansas City clubs twenty years from now?

ML: I hope so, and I hope that the more conservative musicians/audiences understand that I have a profound love for traditional jazz. I just think there's room for both schools of thought.

PS: It seems like 2010 has been a huge year for you. Can you name a couple favorite moments? What can your fans look forward to in 2011?

ML: Thanks, Bill. 2010 has been SO fun! I liked when we did our first Mark Lowrey vs. Hip Hop show in January. I looked out into the packed-like-sardines crowd at Czar Bar on a night that it was ten below zero and noticed that it was the most ethnically and culturally diverse crowd I had ever played for. Everyone seemed to be having a good time and there were no hang-ups. That is unfortunately not as common as I'd like to see in Kansas City.

Another was playing at the Folly Theater for Barclay Martin Ensemble's release of Pools That Swell With The Rain. It is an album I am proud to play on, and the Folly theater felt a little symbolic of some kind of success to me.

2011? I am sure about doing more with local emcees. I'll book more Mark Lowrey with Drums gigs in rock venues, and, ok , I'll say it: the next tribute concert will be Paul Simon.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Now's the Time: Sachal Vasandani

Joe Klopus raves about Sachal Vasandani in his preview of the silky vocalist's December 10 Kansas City debut at the Folly Theater. I concur with his positive assessment.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*What a treasure! Check out this recently uploaded sidewalk interview with Eddie Saunders from 2004.

*KCUR's KC Currents spoke with Harold O'Neal. Download the fascinating interview here. (Tip via KCJazzLark.)

*Steve Penn checks in with Chris Burnett. He also provides an update on the Black Archives of Mid-America.

*More essential history about Kansas City's jazz scene is provided by KCJazzLark.

*Wonderful footage of a duet with Jay McShann comes near the conclusion of the new documentary Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way.

*Krystle Warren is performing December 16 at Shakespeare & Co. in Paris. (Tip via Steve Paul.)

*Ink reviewed Mark Lowrey's new Live at Jardine's album.

*The Peachtree Restaurant in the Power & Light district has closed.

*The majority of the 13 comments at the previous Plastic Sax post are compelling.

*Tweet o' the Week: marklowreymusic: Shay Estes Broockerd and I will preview a few new covers Thursday December 9th at the Marquee Lounge. The show is from 8 to 11pm. (Plastic Sax editorial: This is how it's done. It's astounding that so many jazz musicians continue to ignore Twitter.)

*Here's the flyer for the Friday performance by the Black House Improvisors' Collective.

*From Bob Asher: Top of the Bottoms Social Aid - Pleasure Club - Benevolent Society will be hosting our 11th annual Masquerade Ball on Saturday, February 26 at Crosstown Station... This year, we will feature two floors of entertainment including Hearts of Darkness and Pope of Dope on the main floor and Snuff Jazz and DJ Fat Sal in the upstairs "Krewe Lounge".

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jazz Hang

Saturday afternoon at the Blue Room was a great hang. Joey Calderazzo, Gerald Dunn, Bobby Watson and Dennis Winslett were on hand to ponder "Jazz and the Music Industry." Their freewheeling discussion included trash talk, salacious gossip and a handful of genuine insights. It was hip, entertaining and over two hours behind schedule. The latter component might partially explain why less than a dozen people, including American Jazz Museum staff members and spouses of panelists, attended.

An anonymous commenter at the previous Plastic Sax post characterized Calderazzo as a "bitter a******." The talented pianist may be jaded, but I appreciated his candor. And like his three fellow panelists, he's really smart. Even so, I disagreed with much of what I heard.

Two video cameras were rolling and the four men had to have seen me taking notes. I'm not comfortable, however, quoting anyone directly. Instead, I'll broadly generalize the primary topics of the discussion and toss in my two cents.

The bad economy is responsible for poor attendance at jazz clubs.
I'm so tired of hearing this lame excuse. Times are undoubtedly tough, but Saturday's free event featured two internationally-acclaimed musicians and attracted less than twelve people. The previous night I was a member of a capacity audience of 2,000 at the Midland Theater. The cheapest tickets for the rock show were $45. The next day I was among a crowd of almost 1,000 people who paid $17 each to hear Kansas City jazz artists play Christmas carols. People still spend lots of money to hear the musicians that excite them.

Hip hop is horrible and fusions of jazz and hip hop are whack.
If you say so, Grampa.

Kenny G is a hack.
Whatever. I'd rather listen to Kenny G than hear people bash him for the hundredth time.

Club owners and jazz promoters are often unpleasant and unethical.
Stop the presses!

Money is more important than art to music industry executives. Case in point: Grammy Award nominations don't always go to the best artists.
You think?

An audience member fretted that jazz is becoming "blond-haired and blue eyed." She asked how this trend could be reversed.
None of us have any easy answers.

Jazz musicians are smarter than everybody else.
Bitter and better are two different things.

The youth of today are insolent, poorly-educated louts.
Preferring Young Jeezy over Sonny Rollins doesn't make someone a bad person.

Someone asked what "the blueprint" for a young jazz artist should look like.
I guess she didn't realize that this guy was in the room.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Now's the Time: Joey Calderazzo

Six degrees of Kevin Bacon has nothing on the jazz world. One of the joys provided by jazz is the constant shuffling of musicians. Take this clip. Joey Calderazzo appeared at the Gem Theater with Branford Marsalis last month. He's seen here with Dave Holland. The bassist will lead a band at the Gem Theater next month. Drummer Jack DeJohnette and the late saxophonist Michael Brecker seemingly played with everyone. Also in the band but absent in this brief clip is a guy named Pat Metheny. Joe Klopus previewed Calderazzo's gig Saturday at the Blue Room. Calderazzo will also participate in a master class and discussion earlier in the day. See the previous Plastic Sax post for details.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*A.G. Sulzberger of The New York Times chats with Rod Fleeman, Dave Stephens and Gerald Spaits about the indignities associated with performing Christmas music.

*KCJazzLark praises Alaturka. His photos, as usual, are outstanding.

*CBS aired a feature on the recently unearthed Savory collection. (Tip via KCJazzLark.)

*According to a source in this article, Clint Eastwood considered shooting Bird on location in Kansas City.

*Here's a review of Killer Strayhorn's latest album.

*Tweet o' the week: SwingSalsaTango: Tonight! Salsa is at the Grand Emporium on Main downtown KCMO. Its the Salsa Family Reunion everyone will be there!

*The Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated to include December's gigs. (Please let me know if your dates aren't listed.)

*From the American Jazz Museum: Acclaimed jazz pianist Joey Calderazzo will conduct a master class followed by a session entitled Jazz and the Modern Music Industry. Panelists will include Mr. Calderazzo, Bobby Watson, Director of Jazz Studies, UMKC & Gerald Dunn, Manager & Entertainment Director, the Blue Room. 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. in the Blue Room. Session will be moderated by AJM Director of Education Dennis Winslett.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Review: Black Friday at Crosstown Station

It's not uncommon to find a couple hundred fresh-faced music lovers swaying and dancing to a band on a Friday night at Crosstown Station. When the men on the downtown club's stage are jazz musicians, however, it's clear that something extraordinary is happening.

Very rarely do trumpeter Hermon Mehari, vibraphonist Peter Schlamb, keyboardist Mark Lowrey, bassist Dominique Sanders and drummer Ryan Lee find themselves performing for such a large and fully engaged audience of their peers.

Their collaborators for the "Black Friday" concert were vocalist Schelli Tolliver and rappers Les Izmore and Reach. Although the set list may have focused on material like Talib Kweli's "Get By" and there was more rapping than singing, the jazz aesthetic wasn't compromised. As Joel Francis foretold in his preview of the event, Thelonious Monk's "I Mean You" seamlessly led into Common's "Thelonious." It all felt entirely natural, inspired and vital. (Here's The Pitch's review.)

If it continues to be led by courageous and imaginative musicians, Kansas City's legacy of jazz innovation will soon be fully restored.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Kansas City's Jazz Wellspring

Many of my favorite moments as a jazz fan in Kansas City occur while listening to the University of Missouri-Kansas City's music students. It's exciting to watch kids discover their own voices. The career prospects of most of these students may be sketchy, but it's thrilling to know that for as long as Bobby Watson continues to teach at UMKC there will be no shortage of vital new talent in this town.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Mike Corrigan of B.A.C. Horn Doctors is opening a new jazz performance space in Olathe. Stan Kessler christens The Clinic with a performance on the afternoon of December 1.

*Miles Bonny and Reach discussed the relationship between Kansas City's jazz and hip hop communities with KCUR's Jabulani Leffall. Download the show here.

*NPR devoted five minutes to praising Harold O'Neal's new album. I still stand by my lukewarm review. O'Neal performs at the Mutual Musicians Foundation on New Year's Eve.

*KCJazzLark unveils a few old photos of Claude "Fiddler" Williams.

*All About Jazz reviews Bobby Watson's Gates BBQ Suite.

*Dave Stephens' most prominent fan reviews a gig and highlights Stephens' busy schedule.

*A fresh round of interesting words and music are posted at the the Black House Improvisors Collective site.

*Steve Penn catches up with Will Matthews.

*The current status of one of Charlie Parker's homes is detailed by the New York Times.

*From Michael Pagan: Millie Edwards & Mike Pag├ín, who have been appearing all over town, will perform at Jardine’s on Thursday, December 9th 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM. The last time they were there they recorded it, and they’ll be at it again; this will be Part 2 of their “Live at Jardine’s” CD project. $4.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Listening Booth

It's the time of year when music nerds start thinking about compiling best-of lists. And for the first time, I won't own physical copies of most of the titles in my rankings. I'm not a big fan of MP3s but there just aren't any Kansas City retailers that stock much current jazz. Find me an area store with a copy of Apex by Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green in stock and I'll buy you a beer.

It wasn't always like this. I remember buying albums on the ECM label at Classical Westport. I first explored the Miles Davis catalog during 3-for-$10 Sony "Nice Price" sales. Yours truly once managed the jazz section at a Penny Lane Records store. (While the opportunity thrilled me, I suspect that my manager LeRoi Johnson bestowed the title on me in lieu of a raising my hourly pay.) The Record Cabinet and the Music Exchange are also sorely missed.

I'm curious- how do Plastic Sax readers acquire new music? Do you download (legally or otherwise), order from e-retailers like Amazon or resort to picking up old vinyl at neighborhood garage sales?

And in case you're curious- Bobby Watson's The Gates BBQ Suite is my album of the year.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Now's the Time: Rod Fleeman

In many ways Rod Fleeman personifies Kansas City's jazz scene. Although he's a world-class talent, he chooses to maintain a relatively low profile. I believe he continues to tour internationally with Karrin Allyson, but I'm unable to verify that claim. Fleeman's old-school online presence isn't particularly informative. We're certainly lucky to have him. He's seen here with fellow guitarists Dan Bliss, Bill Dye and Tom DeMasters. Fleeman performs at Jardine's on Thursday, November 24, under the auspices of The Beach Nuts.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Because I'm both unwilling and unable to address the "Curtis Got Slapped" phenomenon, I'll suggest that curious Plastic Sax readers begin with the link provided here.

*NPR's A Blog Supreme appreciates "Moten Swing."

*Here's a poem inspired by Dave Douglas' recent appearance at the Blue Room.

*Howard Reich raves about Bobby Watson's opening night at Chicago's Jazz Showcase. (Tip via RH.) The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review critiqued Watson's The Gates BBQ Suite.

*Federal funding for the American Jazz Museum is characterized as a "ridiculous earmark".

*I admire what T.J. Martley has done here. And there's more where that came from.

*UMKC provides an update on Hermon Mehari.

*Here's more on the Reno Club from KCJazzLark.

*Steve Penn catches up with Harold O'Neal.

*New inductees into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame include Count Basie, Charlie Parker and Bobby Watson.

*Delfeayo Marsalis' Sweet Thunder "theatrical jazz production," will be performed at the Jim D. Morris Auditorium in Springfield, MO, on February 5.

*In addition to Kenny G's "Holiday Show" on December 17, the Midland Theater will host Chris Botti on February 18.

*A fascinating discussion is taking place in the comment section of the previous Plastic Sax post.

*Charlie Parker scholar Phil Schaap has a Twitter account.

*Tweet of the week: PatMethenyNews: Pat just completed shooting the Orchestrion show for a new HD-DVD that will be available on Blu-ray+ 3D formats

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Blame It On My Youth

I occasionally experienced anxiety attacks night terrors as a child. The room spun and a sonic whirlpool rushed through my head. I'd suppressed forgotten these incidents until I first saw Mark Southerland twirl a hose connected to a saxophone during a Snuff Jazz performance. The effect recreated the nightmarish sound that once terrified me.

Last night's Snuff Jazz recital was doubly intense. Guest artist Brian Haas, keyboardist of the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, echoed Southerland's sound effect on a melodica.

I now know how to manage the onset of vertigo, so the combined effort of Southerland and Haas hardly phased me. They did inspire, however, thoughts about the relationship between age and music, especially in terms of jazz.

I'd spend the previous night listening to the incredible Deborah Brown. (Here's the Star's review.) About 150 people caught all or part of Brown's performance. Their median age was a relatively youthful 45. The median age of the audience of four-dozen at the Record Bar on Sunday was an even more encouraging 30.

I'm constantly wringing my hands about what will become of jazz once the original fans of artists ranging from Stan Kenton to the Crusaders succumb to old age.

Kansas City is loaded with scores of promising young jazz musicians, yet it's not uncommon for them to play for small audiences consisting of people three times their age. The jazz kids even have a hard time convincing their friends and romantic interests to attend their gigs.

That's why I invest so much hope in acts like Haas' Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey and in the artist I call The One. I also wholeheartedly approve of the crossover attempts of The Bad Plus, Vijay Iyer and Brad Mehldau. The efforts of Kansas City-based forward thinkers like Hermon Mehari and Mark Lowrey are even better.

If innovative projects like Black Friday don't succeed, I'm afraid that jazz faces a truly nightmarish future.

(Original image of Brian Haas and Snuff Jazz by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Now's the Time: Snuff Jazz

Snuff Jazz will be joined by Brian Haas of the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey at the Record Bar on Sunday. Here's Plastic Sax's 2009 interview with Haas. While the embedded video captures a performance by "Snuff Flamenco" rather than Snuff Jazz, Plastic Sax readers will surely appreciate the opportunity to hear Mark Southerland play (relatively) straight. Besides, Beau Bledsoe's guitar work is impeccable and the visuals are rather enchanting.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*A Canadian concert overseen by Jim Mair is favorably reviewed by the Winnipeg Free Press. The final item in today's Plastic Sax post contains startling breaking news regarding Mair.

*Dan Thomas' travel blog documenting the trip to Japan taken by Bobby Watson and his UMKC jazz students is magnificent.

*Sam Mellinger's column about the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum's woes is terribly depressing. Mellinger suggests that the museum will likely end up moving to either Cooperstown or Kauffman Stadium. Jazz fans are forced to wonder how the adjacent American Jazz Museum would be affected.

*The Branford Marsalis Quartet's concert at the Gem Theater was reviewed by the Star.

*KCJazzLark posts a great entry about the Reno Club.

*Joe Lovano's new album is a tribute to Charlie Parker. The saxophonist will perform at the Folly on April 2.

*The Leavenworth Times provides details about the November 13 concert at the Hollywood Theater featuring Sons of Brasil and the Roger Wilder Quartet.

*Tony's Kansas City reports that Dave Stephens and Lonnie McFadden will entertain during the Plaza lighting ceremony.

*Mark Edelman returns with a fresh column.

*Tweet of the week: The Majestic: Tonight $1 Wells & a Jam Session featuring more than 10 of KC's best Jazz musicians 5:30-9:30PM! No cover-$3 / 3 Can donation to Harvesters

*From Jim Mair: Dear KCJO musicians, I wanted to let you know that after the Christmas concerts in December, Mary and I will be resigning from The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra. It has been 8 years since we set out to make this project a reality and we feel like the organization needs some fresh ideas and new energy. I'm excited to announce that Kerry Strayer has been asked to serve as the new Artistic Director and Conductor... The Board of Directors is currently interviewing candidates for Executive Director... Although the economy has made obtaining funding over the past two years more difficult, the organization has remained financially sound with over $160,000 currently in the bank... It has been an honor for us to have worked with you, and for me especially to front an ensemble of your caliber and talent. Giving that up is tough, however we feel it is best for our family and best for the organization.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Trove of Teddy

Through circuitous means that I'm both unable and unwilling to fully disclose, I've come into the possession of three boxes of recordings once owned by the late Theodore Jan Wilson. The bassist died March 9.

Nothing that could be easily resold to a secondhand dealer remained when I acquired the collection. All that's left are hundreds of cassettes and reel-to-reel tapes encrusted with dust, grime and dead spiders. Most of the collection consists of home recordings of albums and radio broadcasts containing jazz and classical content. Handwritten notes describe each item. A male voice, presumably Wilson's, narrates a few tapes in the style of a disc jockey on a jazz program.

A few items, however, have value as more than curiosities. Wilson was the son of jazz pianist Teddy Wilson. The collection of castoffs includes a number of live Teddy Wilson recordings. I'm unable to find corresponding commercially released versions of some of the material, leading me to believe that I'm hearing private recordings of Wilson performances.

I'd like to donate this trove to an appropriate entity. As far as I know, the staffs of the American Jazz Museum and the Marr Sound Archives have already combed through this collection. If not, either organization is welcome to it, as is any of Wilson's remaining family. Interested parties may leave a comment here or contact me via email. My address is posted above.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Now's the Time: Branford Marsalis

Although many critics view Branford Marsalis' Buckshot LeFonque endeavor as the low point of his career, I've always admired the mid-90s experiment. It may have been better on paper than in practice, but Marsalis deserves credit for even taking such a risk. This piece, a reworking of "Donna Lee," is an attempt to find the common ground between jazz, blues, funk and hip hop. Marsalis performs with his acoustic quartet Saturday, November 6, at the Gem Theater.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The CD release party for The Peoples Liberation Big Band is Sunday, November 7, at the Record Bar. Details are at Facebook. (Login required.)

*A couple hundred photographs of last month's Rhythm and Ribs festival are featured in this slideshow.

*The executive director of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has resigned. Here's the Star's account. "The Negro Leagues Museum was never going to survive as a tourist attraction," writes Joe Posnanski in a new Sports Illustrated column.

*Mary Lou Williams is featured in the current issue of Smithsonian Folkways magazine.

*"(T)he work of music is an unsexy grind," suggests the author of the latest provocative Black House Improvisors' Collective blog post.

*Here's another review of Bobby Watson's The Gates BBQ Suite.

*A critic suggests that Michael Pagan's 12 Preludes & Fugues is an "album of prodigiously eclectic, rich and warm music."

*Do area jazz musicians have a sense of humor? KCJazzLark provides an answer.

*The Pitch previews a promising jazz-meets-hip hop event scheduled for November 26 at Crosstown Station.

*November's gigs have been added to the Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

*From Steve Rigazzi: The Steve Rigazzi Group is going to be recording live at Jardines on Tuesday, November 9 from 7-11. The Steve Rigazzi Group is: Paul Smith -piano, Danny Embrey- guitar, Rich Wheeler- Sax, Todd Strait- Drums, Steve Rigazzi -Bass.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Crossing Over on a Rising Tide

A prominent Kansas City jazz musician once told me that every ambitious blues and rock musician secretly aspires to play jazz. Only their current lack of skill, he suggested, prevents them from performing the music. I doubt the accuracy of his conceit, but what if he's right?

Max Weinberg, perhaps best known as Bruce Springsteen's longtime drummer, led a swinging big band at Jardine's last night. Both The Star and The Pitch reviewed Weinberg's second set.

Weinberg, of course, is hardly the first rock-oriented musician to cross over to the jazz world, but it's possible that a tidal wave of similar stylistic shifts is on the horizon. Current members of arty indie rock acts like Arcade Fire and Radiohead, improvisation-happy jam bands like String Cheese Incident and Widespread Panic, and roots-oriented hip hop acts like Mos Def and the Roots may very well wind up playing jazz-based music a decade or two from now. Here in Kansas City, it's entirely conceivable that local luminaries including members of the Roman Numerals and Tech N9ne could shift to jazz as they age.

Would this trend be a rising tide that lifts all boats? Or would dedicated jazz musicians who have spent years battling for gigs at the limited number of jazz-friendly venues be squeezed out of work? For the sake of my musician friend, I certainly hope it's not the latter.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Now's the Time: Christian Howes

No one will ever mistake the playing of jazz violinist Christian Howes with that of the late Kansas City jazz legend Claude "Fiddler" Williams. A new-school technician, Howes' approach is far more aggressive than the relaxed swing associated with Williams. Even so, Howes clearly has a tremendous grasp of jazz tradition. He returns to Jardine's for two shows on Friday, October 29.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*KCJazzLark offers an account of the October 18 performance of Bobby Watson's The Gates BBQ Suite at the Blue Room. I wrote about the event here.

*An Arkansas newspaper covered Doug Talley's recent trip to the Natural State.

*Here's a new interview with Marilyn Maye.

*The sordid saga of alleged fraud perpetrated by Petro America has a Kansas City jazz connection. The Pitch and the Star relate the shocking story.

*Here's the latest dispatch from Black House Improvisors' Collective.

*Tweet o' the week: KCJazzLark: At Marquee Lounge earlier tonight for Crosscurrent, one of KC's best jazz groups. But the place needs to figure out what it wants to be....

*While it doesn't have any Kansas City-specific content, I highly recommend The Revivalist to forward-thinking jazz fans. The new site has a feature on Ben Williams, the young bassist in Nicholas Payton's band at the Rhythm & Ribs festival earlier this month.

*From a Johnson County Community College press release: A new CD, Live from JCCC’s Yardley Hall, featuring the late Kansas City jazz pianist and band leader Pete Eye along with three other musicians, will be released during a jazz concert and party from noon to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, in the Atrium in the Regnier Center, Johnson County Community College... The CD was recorded at Eye’s final major concert on March 3, 2009, part of the JCCC Jazz Series. Eye died April 8, 2010.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review: Harold O'Neal- Whirling Mantis

Whirling Mantis, the new release by pianist Harold O'Neal, has served as my default background music for the past two weeks. It's provided my soundtrack as I've trudged on a treadmill, prepared meals and read newspapers. Even my associates who ordinarily claim to detest jazz have been drawn in by Whirling Mantis' obvious charms and immediate accessibility.

I first raved about O'Neal, 29, at Plastic Sax three years ago. He was born in Africa and raised in Kansas City. He's recorded with Greg Osby, Bobby Watson and Ahmad Alaadeen. He currently resides in New York. Whirling Mantis was recorded in Brooklyn in 2008.

Listening to the album is akin to overhearing an erudite discussion between O'Neal and alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw as bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Rodney Green whisper thoughtful commentary. Both O'Neal and Shaw pose their intriguing arguments with charm and finesse.

My sole complaint with Whirling Mantis could be a personal problem. Perhaps I've been listening to too many albums on the ECM label or maybe I'm overly accustomed to Jon Brion productions, but I just don't care for the way O'Neal's piano was recorded. It's a minor concern about an otherwise entirely delightful album.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Pearl Thuston-Brown Takeover

Because I arrived an hour after the scheduled start time of the official public debut performance of The Gates BBQ Suite, I was forced into a far corner of the packed Blue Room on October 18. Adding insult to injury, the complimentary barbecue provided by Gates was gone.

All was not lost. I closed my eyes and blissfully listened to Bobby Watson, his current UMKC students and a few alumni impeccably perform the second half of Watson's exceptional new album.

After he noted that the project had peaked at #6 on JazzWeek's airplay chart, Watson was quick to dampen unrealistic expectations.

"I'll be driving the same car next week," he laughed. "What part of number six don't you understand?"

Watson assured the audience that a brief intermission would be followed by a jam session. It never happened. Pearl Thuston-Brown, 83, commandeered the piano during the break. And that was that.

She performed an impressive array of jazz standards and bawdy blues. I blushed when "A Good Man is Hard to Find" became "A Hard Man is Good to Find." Transport this woman to Paris and she'd be the toast of the town within weeks.

Intimidated and respectful, the other musicians didn't dare interrupt Thuston-Brown. As her impromptu recital continued, they shrugged their shoulders, packed their instruments and left. By the time she finished playing, less than two dozens people- Ollie "O.G." Gates among them- remained.

(While I'm reluctant to feature this home footage of Thuston-Brown, no proper performance documentation is available.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The trip Bobby Watson and his UMKC students are taking to Japan is detailed by Steve Penn.

*Greg Carroll of the American Jazz Museum discusses his career path in a lively video profile.

*Steve Penn cites the official head count for the Rhythm & Ribs festival. (The "paid attendance" was 4,000.)

*Sue Vicory and her film are praised by KCJazzLark.

*Megan Birdsall alludes to her plan to travel to Europe with Hermon Mehari.

*Nightclub owner Bobby Dobson has died.

*Bill Blankenship previews a Topeka performance by Grant Geissman and Jerry Hahn.

*Pianist and composer Michael Pagan has released two albums in 2010. His Three For the Ages album was reviewed by an Italian critic. The second title, 12 Preludes & Fugues, received a thoughtful analysis here.

*An interesting post at the site of the Black House Improvisors' Collective touches on naming compositions, Dave Douglas' recent concert at the Blue Room and the politics of jazz programming.

*Jordan Shipley has a "case of the Mondays".

*Alice Thorson examines the "Evolution of Jazz" art exhibit.

*Tweet o' the week: 12THSTREETPETE: The salute to Dizzy went well. Thanks Cal, KB, and Jenn for being part of such an A+ night. I get rewarded now with football and laziness.

*Black Friday, an event billed as "The History of Jazz Meets Hip Hop," takes place November 26 at Crosstown Station. Featured jazz performers include Hermon Mehari, Mark Lowrey and Logan Richardson.

*From the city of Leavenworth: Jazz at the Hollywood Theater is a concert series that was developed to present performances in the community by world class talent that is based in the Kansas City metro area. The concerts are recorded for broadcast by Kansas Public Radio. This year's event, held on Nov. 13 at 8 p.m., will feature the Sons of Brasil and the Roger Wilder Quartet and proceeds will go to benefit the Parks and Recreation Department.

*The Marquee, a new venue at the AMC Theater at 1400 Main, occasionally features live jazz. Its sales manager sent me her club's live music listing: Oct 20- Mark Lowrey and Shay Estes 7-10pm; Oct 22- Crosscurrent- 7-10pm; Oct 23- TBA 9p-12a; Oct 27- Mark Lowrey and Shay Estes 7-10pm; Oct 29- Retro Inferno 7-10pm; Oct 30- TBA 9p-12a. The jazz acts are listed on the Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sitting In On the JCCC Jazz Series

Anyone who thinks that old folks can't move quickly should have seen how briskly dozens of senior citizens sprung to their feet at the conclusion of the Steve Rigazzi Trio's set last week at Johnson County Community College.

The trio was rewarded with a hearty standing ovation after performing an hour of solid melodic swing on October 12. Although I was a quarter-century younger than most of the 100 people in attendance, I had no trouble admiring the old-school playing of bassist Rigazzi, drummer Ray DeMarchi and pianist Paul Smith.

While Smith's reassuring work was the clear audience favorite, DeMarchi's jittery accompaniment on an oddly upbeat rendition of "'Round Midnight" thrilled me. A nasty unaccompanied four-minute bass solo that evoked Charles Mingus may have unsettled some in the audience but it served to remind me that Rigazzi merits consideration alongside Bob Bowman and Gerald Spaits in any serious discussion of Kansas City's elite straight-ahead jazz bassists. Kim Sivils, Rigazzi's regular musical partner, replaced Smith for one number. Her lyrical touch offered fascinating contrast to Smith's more assertive playing.

The free noontime concert was part of the Ruel Joyce Series. I've been aware of the series for some time, but it took an appearance by Matt Otto's quartet on October 5 to first attract me to one of its events. The Otto-led combo of Gerald Dunn, Jeff Harshbarger and Mike Warren is one of the premier groups in the region, if not the world.

Their adventurous set didn't disappoint me, although the unflaggingly polite capacity audience didn't even consider offering them a standing ovation. Even so, I felt guilty about claiming a spot that would have otherwise gone to another jazz fan. I sense that the Ruel Joyce series represents the sole opportunity for many people to hear live jazz.

Besides, after witnessing both their passion and quick reflexes, I'm now reluctant to antagonize elderly jazz fans.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Captured: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey at Jardine's

Steve Paul wasn't the only person wielding a video camera during the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey's appearance October 9 at Jardine's. Someone affiliated with the band created the embedded montage of the show. Additional footage is here. Both videos show Kansas City-based bassist and newly minted JFJO member Jeff Harshbarger to good advantage. If you like what you see and hear, feel free to revisit the 2009 interview Plastic Sax conducted with JFJO's Brian Haas.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*A surly weirdo caught Bobby Watson jamming with his UMKC students at GiGi's Jazz Inn last week. Here are his notes and photos.

*Common posted performance footage of Diverse and Les Izmore at his blog. That's the good news. The bad news? The rest of the world will hear how many people in Kansas City (don't) listen to live music.

*KCJazzLark has the "Saturday Night Blues".

*Ben Ratliff of The New York Times reviewed the new album by pianist Harold O'Neal.

*The Pitch gave Diverse and Les Izmore the "Best Tribute" award for their Common collaboration. Mark Lowrey was acknowledged for "Best Collaboration."

*This footage of the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey's performance Saturday at Jardine's is just one of several fine videos recently uploaded by Steve Paul.

*Here's Downbeat's review of Bobby Watson's The Gates BBQ Suite. Audiophile Audition also evaluates the release.

*Hermon Mehari and The Sound are hosting a block party in front of the Mutual Musicians Foundation on Friday, October 22, from 8 p.m. to midnight. KCJazzLark commends the initiative.

*The new roster of the Black House Improvisors Collective is announced in an amusing post.

*KC Free Press investigates the possible presence of a ghost at the Phoenix.

*A critic in Syracuse mentions that "Kansas City" is in the repertoire of Max Weinberg's big band. The ensemble performs at Jardine's on Halloween.

*Hermon Mehari assumes the role of Dizzy Gillespie Saturday, October 16, at 12th Street Jump.

*Renee Fleming performed jazz last week at The Folly Theater. Sort of. Here's The Star's review.

*Tweet o' the Week: kcrhythmandribs: Thanks to everyone who came out for the fest on Sat! Keep an eye on this space for an upcoming Twitter account for AJM events year-round!

*From a KCKCC press release: Kansas City Kansas Community College Jazz Band Director Jim Mair is going home to conduct the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra. Canadian born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Mair will direct the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra in two performances of the “Kansas City Suite” on Nov. 7, 2010.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Review: Rhythm and Ribs Festival

Saturday's Rhythm & Ribs Jazz and Blues Festival seemed like two separate and entirely unrelated events. The first one ran from 11 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Less than 1,000 people were on hand to hear a dozen local and regional acts. Attendance exploded immediately after the jazz and blues portion of the festival concluded.

"This is what I envisioned when I took the beating I did when I tried to get this area up and going again," Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II, said in his introduction of Kirk Whalum as he looked out at an audience of about 4,000 at 7: 40 p.m.

When I departed at 9:30 p.m., it looked as if 5,000 were on hand. The enormous VIP section in front of the main stage, painfully vacant all day, filled up during Whalum's set. Many of the fresh VIPs toted lawn chairs, leading me to speculate that the passes were being freely distributed at the gate.

Cleaver called Whalum "one of the greatest saxophonists to ever put a reed in his mouth." The Reverend and I will just have to agree to disagree about that assessment. The audience, however, didn't share my skepticism of Whalum's smooth gospel caterwauling. I may have been embarrassed when Whalum told the audience that he was the saxophone player on "I Will Always Love You" (yes, that's him at the 2:10 mark), but I was obviously in the minority. I also didn't appreciate that Whalum's set felt more like a Sunday morning than a Saturday night. He closed with "Falling In Love With Jesus". Thank heaven for Lalah Hathaway's appearance midway in Whalum's set. She doesn't try to be sexy. She just is.

Whalum's music may not be my thing, but an unlikely collaboration between Whalum and Nicholas Payton was the undeniable highlight of the festival. After momentarily riffing on "A Love Supreme," Whalum explained that he'd invited Payton to sit in on his set. Their rendition of "Giant Steps" was a symbolic triumph. While no sparks flew, the pairing epitomized what the festival organizers surely hoped to prove- that fans and musicians representing disparate styles can find common ground.

It's a nice thought, but very few people seemed to appreciate Payton's intriguing set. (Note the empty VIP seats as Payton performs, above.) Sounding like a fresh update of Miles Davis' "Ife" from the 1972 album On the Corner with a pinch of Fulfillingness' First Finale thrown in as a sweetener, it was real back to the future stuff. Yet most of the meager audience greeted the experimental sound with insolent chatter or expressions of disgust. I loved it. Only the intrusion of a traditional New Orleans swing number late in the set disappointed me. It felt like a jarring repudiation of everything that had preceded it. Save that misstep, Payton's application of impeccable bop chops to gauzy outside jazz made for the day's most interesting music.

I'd been looking forward to hearing Queen Bey. (In light green, above.) She recently returned to Kansas City and I hadn't heard her in years. I wasn't sure I'd get the chance Saturday- the long-winded introduction by Howard Hesseman seemed like it would never end. Her all-star band consisted of saxophonist Gerald Dunn, trombonist Jason Goudeau, guitarist Will Matthews, bassist James Ward, drummer Ryan Lee and pianist Otis Hays. I don't know that I'd ever heard the latter musician. His bluesy but elegant playing floored me. (He's just one of several musicians mentioned in this review without any online presence.) In spite of this stellar support, Bey confessed that her appearance was plagued by "technical difficulties." Maybe next time.

The set by the so-called "Elderstatesmen of Jazz" was also a letdown. The music played by vocalist Patricia Lyons-Cox (above), flugelist Ronnie Reed, saxophonist Michael Herrera, pianist Donald Cox, bassist Joe Straws and drummer Sam Johnson was fine, but the average age of the band was a youthful 55 or so. I'd been hoping for the likes of Ben Kynard and Sellie Truitt. I guess it's just a sign of the times.

Blues-bangers Trampled Under Foot did their thing from the main stage for a small but enthusiastic audience. (Above.)

The refined piano-and-bass duo of Michael Pagan and Steve Rigazzi sounded splendid in the high-ceilinged atrium of the museum complex. Horace Washington's quaint set also succeeded in the same space. (Above.) I liked the veteran's joke about changing the name of Charlie Parker's "Scrapple from the Apple" to "Grapes On the Vine." Others preferred the Wes Blackman Trio's lounge-friendly versions of Roberta Flack's "Feel Like Makin' Love" and Anita Baker's "Rapture." The "B-3 Party" in the atrium, however, represented an audiophile's nightmare.

Back in the Blue Room, Heat Index preserved the fusion-funk of the mid-70s. A straight-ahead jazz band led by Nebraska-based trumpeter Darryl White featured beautiful contributions on vibraphone from Greg Carroll.

Blues veteran Millage Gilbert's take on "Kansas City" was the first rendition of the song I heard Saturday. Alas, it wouldn't be the last one. I call for a moratorium on the tired standard. I have a few other quibbles about Saturday:
*Why were festival goers forced to show their ticket and/or hand stamp as they moved between the three stages? Unnecessary and annoying, the pointless process created logjams.

*Before the grounds filled for Whalum's set, the sound on the outdoor stage echoed off the back wall of the museum complex. The resulting reverb was awful.

*The decision to conclude the music on the two indoor stages at 6 p.m. was baffling. The odd oversight was made even worse by the horrid boogie recordings heard between live acts on the main stage. Would it have killed the sound man to play Jill Scott or Teddy Pendergrass?

*The food offerings (above) were a disappointment. I've sworn off one prominent restaurant after purchasing its inedible fare Saturday.
The latter two issues forced me to bail on the festival before seeing Sugarfoot's Ohio Players. While I hope festival organizers take this constructive criticism to heart, they're to be commended for successfully reviving Rhythm & Ribs after a one-year hiatus.

Rhythm & Ribs in 2011? I'm already there.

(Original images by Plastic Sax.)