Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Hearne Christopher reports that jazz will soon be featured in a revamped space at the downtown AMC movie theater.

*Dave Brubeck's October 14 concert at The Folly Theater has been cancelled. An appearance by Ellis Marsalis on February 11 replaces Brubeck's date in the venue's jazz series.

*The Star offers a review of Saturday's concert by The Bad Plus at The Folly Theater. And There Stands the Glass took notes at Sunday's performance by The Gang Font at The Record Bar.

*Here's an extremely nice segment on Marilyn Maye from Sue Vicory's Kansas City Jazz & Blues: Past, Present & Future. And here's a new trailer for the film. The documentary will be screened tonight, September 29, at B.B.'s Lawnside BBQ.

*UMKC's archival work on the memorabilia of Claude "Fiddler" Williams is noted by Steve Penn.

*Dude Langford is recalled by KCJazzLark.

*The NFL apparently produced a television spot that features a 1947 song by Kansas City's Julia Lee and Her Boyfriends. NPR's A Blog Supreme made the catch.

*Here's an upsetting jazz-related crime report.

*Kansas City bassist Jeff Harshbarger seems to fit right in with The Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey in this gorgeous footage of JFJO collaborating with the Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra. The Oklahoma-based band performs October 9 at Jardine's.

*12th Street Jump resumes Friday at the downtown Marriott with a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughn.

*The Power & Light District hosts an event titled "The 14th Street Jazz Festival" on October 2. The McFadden Brothers are the only act listed at the "festival."

*Is Geneva Price is the daughter of Priscilla Bowman? A comment "GPrice" made here suggests that it's true. I have an expert investigating the matter, but please leave a comment if you can verify or dismiss this amazing assertion. UPDATE: The expert reports that Geneva is not related to Priscilla. I apologize for the false alarm.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Sons of Brasil: An Appreciation

The skies were cloudy and the breeze was chilly as the Sons of Brasil performed Sunday at the Plaza Art Fair. Even so, I managed to acquire a sunburn as I enjoyed the band's ninety-minute set. Such is the power of suggestion. The ensemble momentarily convinced me that I had been transported to a resort in Rio.

I don't know nearly enough about commercial Brazilian jazz to compare the quality of the Sons of Brasil's music to the works of better-known acts like Azymuth. I can state with absolute certainty, however, that there was no other Kansas City-based band I would rather have heard yesterday morning.

The Sons of Brasil can be as pleasant as the breeziest smooth jazz act. But they're not lightweights. The band's members include several of Kansas City's most respected jazz musicians. It's not necessary to appreciate the band, but careful listening is rewarded. Theirs is music that works at every level.

I don't care if it's an indoor gig- the next time I catch the band I'm bringing suntan lotion.

(Original image of the Sons of Brasil by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Now's the Time: The Gang Font

Because jazz-punk is one of the least-loved of all musical subgenres, I suppose it's no surprise that I didn't know that The Gang Font existed until I read Joe Klopus' latest column. The noisy core of the band consists of Dave King (The Bad Plus), Greg Norton (Hüsker Dü) and Erik Fratzke (Happy Apple). Long before my jazz problem became a serious condition, I grew up listening to Midwestern punk bands like Hüsker Dü. The Gang Font perform Sunday at The Record Bar.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Steve Paul's insightful review of Bobby Watson's The Gates BBQ Suite includes valuable context omitted from my September 20 critique of the new album. The Philadelphia Inquirer checks in with a quick review while Music and More offers a more detailed analysis.

*Steve Kraske and Bobby Watson talked about jazz, UMKC, the quality of life in Kansas City and Watson's new album on KCUR's Up To Date. Download the podcast here.

*The remainder of the artist lineup for the American Jazz Museum's Rhythm & Ribs festival has been announced.

*Mike Metheny pays tribute to Doc Severinson in a beautiful essay. The accompanying photo is a must-see. In a separate note to Plastic Sax, Metheny wrote: "It should also be noted that there were several other KC-connected musicians onstage in Clay Center including Jay Sollenberger, Kerry Strayer, Paul Smith, Bob Bowman, Todd Strait and Danny Embrey.

*KCJazzLark slanders the "magic jazz fairy". Hilarious! I recently addressed the same issue with significantly less tact.

*Steve Penn reports on the delayed opening of the Napoleon Bakery in the Jazz District.

*Lee Ingalls presents a podcast interview with Stan Kessler of Sons of Brasil.

*According to my calculations, only eight percent of the three dozen acts featured at this weekend's Plaza Art Fair are jazz artists.

*Dr. Wayne E. Goins, Director of Jazz at Kansas State, participates in a roundtable discussion at JazzTimes. (Link via A Blog Supreme.)

*Saxophonist Walt Weiskopf was in town last Saturday as part of the Dukes of September band. Here's a review.

*Sue Vicory reports that a newly edited version of her film will be screened at BB's Lawnside BBQ on September 29. A question-and-answer session will follow the film.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Review: Bobby Watson- The Gates BBQ Suite

Original Classic. That's the name of the sauce most people reach for while dining at a Gates Bar-B-Q restaurant. It also serves as an apt description of Bobby Watson. The Plastic Sax Person of the Decade has done more than anyone to insure that Kansas City's jazz legacy remains vibrant in the new millennium.

In spite of my profound respect for Watson, I approached the new release The Gates BBQ Suite with trepidation. The concept of a traditional big band album in 2010 didn't appeal to me. I needn't have worried.

All of Watson's compositional gifts, directorial skills and prodigious improvisational talent are brought to bear on the project. While the context is a throwback to The New Testament version of the Count Basie Orchestra and Benny Carter's Further Definitions, it's hardly quaint or old-fashioned. Even if the charts don't betray the influence, the joyous, groove-based sensibility of the album hints that the compositions were designed by a man familiar with the music of Donald Byrd and Ramsey Lewis. The Gates BBQ Suite is as immediately engaging as a good pop album.

Watson's solos are, needless to say, excellent, but he never goes for the jugular. The album is about feel rather than chops. It's also gratifying to hear several members of Diverse on the album. Diverse's rhythm section of Ben Leifer and Ryan Lee shine throughout and trumpeter Herman Mehari solos on the first track.

"Sweet and Mild" is one of two less popular sauces offered at Gates. After a weekend spent enjoying The Gates BBQ Suite, that's precisely how I've come to think of the new album by Kansas City's "Original Classic."

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Now's the Time: The Grand Marquis

The Grand Marquis host an album release party Friday, September 17, at The Mission Theater. An amazingly insightful review of Hold On To Me in the print edition of this week's Ink suggests that the band's "faithful recreation of Prohibition-era jazz has never sounded more invigorating." Polish your dancing shoes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*A very nice interview with Bobby Watson was conducted by NPR's A Blog Supreme. (Initial tip via KCJazzLark.) Watson is also the subject of a fine video interview here. Watson's new album, The Gates BBQ Suite, is available at his Facebook account.

*The Prairie Village Jazz Festival is admired by KCJazzLark. The Prairie Village Post offers a recap.

*Jazz Times reviewed the new album by Dan Gailey, a professor at The University of Kansas.

*The unfortunately-named The Sound offers archived footage of its live video stream from the Mutual Musicians Foundation. The group also held a meeting.

*The Star offers a review of a concert by The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra.

*I've bashed the guys repeatedly for not having their own site, so it's only fair that I note that the excellent all-star band Crosscurrent recently remedied that situation. They're also on Facebook.

*A member of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy participated in a video interview to promote his band's forthcoming concert at the Lied Center. (Tip via KC Stage Blog.)

(Original image of Breezy Peyton by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Notes on the Prairie Village Jazz Festival

Saturday's Prairie Village Jazz Festival was a spectacular success.

About 1,000 people were already on hand when Killer Strayhorn, the festival's first act, concluded its fine set at 3:50 p.m. The audience had ballooned to at least 5,000 by the time Karrin Allyson joined the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra near the end of the free event.

She sang four songs in her thirty-minute appearance- "Hello, Young Lovers," "Jordu," "This Happy Madness" and "Humdrum Blues." She singled out her guitarist and Kansas City Jazz Orchestra member Rod Fleeman for extra praise.

"You're like the Kansas City God," Allyson exclaimed. "You ought to be recognized for it."

Eldar's festival-friendly set was also excellent. The sound system couldn't handle the low rumble of Armando Gola's electric bass, but that was one of the festival's few flaws. I also could have done without the absurdly unsupervised tots adorable children who chatted so loudly at the lip of the stage that they could be heard through the monitors. And the lines to purchase food and beverage tickets were sometimes painfully long.

Otherwise, the event was close to perfect. It's a huge win for Kansas City's jazz scene.

(Original images of Eldar's trio and the audience by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Now's the Time: Karrin Allyson

It's been several years since I last saw Karrin Allyson perform at a free outdoor festival in Johnson County. I still remember her fearsome scowl as she reacted to audience indifference at the Corporate Woods Jazz Festival. Although I'll hope for the best, I can't imagine the environment will be much different Saturday when she appears at the Prairie Village Jazz Festival. As an Allyson admirer and as a music lover who also despises rude audience behavior, I'm sympathetic. In addition to Saturday's gig, Allyson will perform at the Topeka Jazz Workshop on September 19 and at The Folly Theater in May of 2011.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*A water main recently broke at 18th & Vine. According to this account, neither the American Jazz Museum nor the Gem Theater were damaged. Additional reports are here and here.

*Excellent insights and images related to the new Friday night jam session downstairs at the Mutual Musicians Foundation are provided by KCJazzLark.

*Will Matthews, President of the Mutual Musicians Foundation, reports that "90% of the membership is delinquent in their dues."

*Here's the entire Jazz Session podcast interview with Steve Cardenas. The special Plastic Sax version is still available here.

*Here's another rave review of Alaturka's debut album. The band performs at the Turkish Days In New York festival September 16-17.

*Steve Penn shares his impressions of the most recent Charlie Parker memorial service.

*Ink provides pictures of a recent Lonnie McFadden set. (Log-in required.)

*Via Twitter: Starting Sept. 20 The Majestic will serve breakfast everyday @7AM including Sunday Jazz Brunch every Sunday. That sounds good, but what I really want is a listing of their September jazz bookings. The Majestic's online calendar hasn't been updated since last month.

*A local jazz festival has quietly disappeared. Grandview's annual Jazz Blast has been renamed Music On Main.

*The next week is particularly appealing for Kansas City jazz fans. In addition to the Prairie Village Jazz Festival (9/11), the Crossroads Music Festival (9/11) and the start of the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra's new season (9/10), the following dates merit special notice:
*From Michael Pagan: Mike will pay tribute to jazz piano master Bill Evans, who passed away on September 15, 1980 by playing 3 hours of Bill Evans compositions and arrangements (at Cafe Trio on September 15). Additional details are at MySpace.

*Via Facebook: Pianist Josh Nelson and bassist Ryan McGillicuddy visit from Los Angeles to team up with saxophonist Matt Otto and drummer Zack Albetta for two nights of jazz at Jardine's. Thursday 9/9 will feature all original compositions by all four members and Friday 9/10 will feature all jazz standards with arrangements by all four members.)

*Mixed Method plays its final show of 2010 at Jardine's on Saturday.

*Winard Harper returns to The Blue Room on Saturday.

*Kerry Strayer leads a 17-piece band Sunday, September 12, at Jardine's.

*Don't forget about the Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Daniel Andersen: The Plastic Sax Interview with the Director of The Prairie Village Jazz Festival

The Prairie Village Jazz Festival is just as promising as it is unlikely. Curious about how the ambitious September 11 event came about, I conducted the following email interview with festival director Daniel Andersen.

Plastic Sax: As a jazz enthusiast and jazz blogger, I'm thrilled by the Prairie Village Jazz Festival. The lineup is amazing. But I have to ask- why Prairie Village? And why jazz rather than bluegrass, blues or classical music?

Daniel Anderson: As a member of the Prairie Village Arts Council it was a natural fit to bring live performance to Prairie Village. Jazz seemed to be a natural fit given the area's history of this uniquely American art form.

PS: Eldar aside, are you aware of any special connections between Prairie Village and the jazz idiom?

DA: Prairie Village itself other than Eldar doesn't have a strict jazz connection, but as part of the KC area, we have selected artists with special ties to this region.

PS: How Is the festival being financed?

DA: The festival is presented by The Prairie Village Arts Council, The City of Prairie Village and the Prairie Village Municipal Foundation. Financing comes from our generous sponsors, grants and event partnerships.

PS: Do you have any experience in organizing festivals?

DA: This is my first full festival, but have planned many large events.

PS: The lineup is absolutely stellar. Were Karrin Allyson, The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, Eldar, David Basse, Sons of Brasil and Killer Strayhorn your first picks? Who else was on your list? What went into the selection process?

A: The selection process was a group effort with numerous other acts considered. The choices were made easier when we decided to concentrate on artists with a tie to this area. We look forward to next year and the opportunity to bring more great jazz performers to the festival.

PS: What's the goal of the festival? Is there anything you hope to accomplish in addition to presenting great music?

DA: The goal is to celebrate and promote jazz music with the residents of Prairie Village and surrounding areas. In the future we hope to raise enough money with the festival to develop an amphitheater in Harmon Park that showcases year round performance events.

PS: How many people do you expect to attract?

DA: We are being optimistic that this free event will attract 5,000 - 10,000 people.

PS: Why did you decide to make it a free event?

DA: As a free event we feel that we can stimulate a greater awareness and promote the appreciation of jazz to a broader audience.

PS: Do you hope to make it an annual event?

DA: Yes, we have already started planning next year's festival.

PS: What will the stage setup be like? Will the audience be looking down toward the Prairie Village Pool or up toward the pavilion at the west side of the park?

DA: The stage will be set up on top of the skate park facing uphill towards the pavilion at the west side of the park. We feel this arrangement creates a natural amphitheater.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Now's the Time: Everette DeVan

I didn't give much thought to the man with a video camera at last week's Crosscurrents performance. It's not uncommon to see someone filming jazz musicians in area clubs. Very rarely, however, is the documentation uploaded to sites like Vimeo and YouTube. So this footage of Eboni Fondren, Matt Hopper and Everette DeVan at the Phoenix is most welcome. Watch the generous man's footage of Crosscurrent here and here. DeVan performs at The Phoenix every Tuesday in September.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Steve Paul provides video footage of Sunday's ceremony at Charlie Parker's grave. Watch his work here and here. An unidentified man with a camera superior to mine also filmed a portion of the event.

*I did not attend Sunday's function at the Mutual Musicians Foundation and I've been unable to locate a single review or social media posting about its Charlie Parker Festival. New York City's annual Charlie Parker Festival, however, received plenty of press last weekend. McCoy Tyner was the first day's headliner. Here's a review. Vijay Iyer and Jimmy Scott were featured on Sunday. Here's fan footage.

*Charlie Parker's Royal Roost recordings are examined by Marc Myers and Phil Schaap. The pair also discusses the rift between Parker and Davis and the strings album here.

*Hearne Christopher reports that Max Weinberg's big band will hit Jardine's on Halloween.

*Joe Klopus wrote a profile of Miguel DeLeon.

*The Star offers a fall jazz preview.

*Here's the flier for The Phoenix's September 18 block party.

*I uploaded the official poster of the Rhythm & Ribs Jazz and Blues Festival. Here's the link. The American Jazz Museum would like Plastic Sax readers to be reminded that tickets to the October 9 event are $18 in advance and $25 on the day of the show. And KCJazzLark offers a pep talk for jazz fans disappointed by the festival's headliners.

*Marilyn Maye serenaded Walt Bodine last Friday.

*Mark Edelman returns with a preview of the week in jazz. The same site posted an odd note about Kansas City's indifference to jazz.

*Here's another professional hip hop video that features glimpses of Kansas City's Jazz District. What's it going to take to get a local jazz musician to make a similar video?

*The Saturday column by Steve Penn provided updates on ongoing renovations in the Jazz District and noted a memorial jam for Alaadeen.

*Bobby Watson will perform with the Bach Aria Soloists on June 4. (Tip via The Star.)

*Micah Herman is interviewed by a television reporter.

*KC Stage features a video montage of Dave Stephens' Jazz Circus.

*The obituary of bandleader William P. Foster reveals a fascinating life. The bandleader and educator was born in Kansas City, Kansas.

*Jazz Artistry Now recommends a few online music clinics. Matt Otto is among the site's picks.

*Eldar plays ping pong. (Video found via A Blog Supreme.)

*While there's no Kansas City content in this New York Times feature on the jazz scene in Seattle, it makes for a fascinating compare-and-contrast exercise.

*From a press release: The free fall Jazz Series at Johnson County Community College will showcase six weeks of premier Kansas City jazz groups at noon Tuesday, Sept. 28-Nov. 2, in the Recital Hall of the Carlsen Center, Johnson County Community College. The fall 2010 Jazz Series is: Jazz Disciples, Sept. 28; Matt Otto Quartet, Oct. 5; Steve Rigazzi Trio, Oct. 12; Ervin Brown Quartet, Oct. 19; Gerald Spaits Quartet, Oct. 26, Polsky Theatre; Megan Birdsall Quartet, Nov. 2.

(Original image of the Dirty Force Brass Band by Plastic Sax.)