Monday, February 28, 2011

Review: The Dead Kenny Gs- Operation Long Leash

Are The Dead Kenny Gs a jazz band? If the trio's namesake represents one extreme edge of the jazz spectrum then the Dead Kenny Gs surely belong in precisely the same spot at the opposite end of the chart.

Operation Long Leash, scheduled for a March 15 release, contains funk, punk and more than a little bit of jazz. Just as the music of the smooth jazz star pacifies its listeners, the aggressive attack of the Dead Kenny Gs agitates. The project appeals to fans of Rage Against the Machine much more than to aficionados of Al Hirt.

None of this comes as any surprise to adventurous Kansas City music fans. Mike Dillon, the trio's acclaimed percussionist, was a member of the locally-based avant-jazz band Malachy Papers. He also occasionally shows up in Kansas City as a member of the touring bands of artists like Ani DiFranco.

Plastic Sax readers who don't already know which side of the fence they're on need only watch a few seconds of this recent live footage to determine if they're down with the noise.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Now's the Time: Christian McBride

Thanks to a tip from Plastic Sax reader and KJHK radio personality Lucas Homer, I learned that Christian McBride will be in Lawrence on Saturday, March 5, as part of the KU Jazz Festival. Dick Oatts is featured on Friday, March 4. McBride's work alongside Pat Metheny and Antonio Sanchez speaks for itself.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Ellis Marsalis' recent concert at the Folly Theater is reviewed by Kristin Shafel.

*Terry Teachout recalls a George Shearing performance in Kansas City in his tribute to the late pianist.

*Jeff Harshbarger is among the musicians quoted in a profile of Michael Stover.

*KCJazzLark suggests that Kansas City's jazz musicians are the equal of those in any city.

*The three videos of Julian Lage's performance at the Blue Room uploaded by Steve Paul lend extra authority to his positive review.

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

*A Washington D.C. publication previews an appearance by Bobby Watson.

*St. Louis Jazz Notes reports that Tony Bennett will perform at the Fox Theatre on May 7.

*Tweet o' the Week: Clint Ashlock: Harlings. Tonight. 9pm. Come give me money, and I'll give you a New Jazz Order CD. It has Bobby Watson on it, so you KNOW it's good!

*From Andrew McGhie: I'll be performing at The Fishtank this Saturday from 7.30-9.30 with some really great musicians. the line up is as follows- Hermon Mehari: trumpet, Peter Schlamb: vibraphone, Karl McComas-Reichl: bass, Brad Williams: drums.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: Todd Clouser at the Record Bar

Don't call it fusion.

While jazz and rock were equally represented during Todd Clouser's gig Sunday at the Record Bar, Clouser's innovative approach delineated a new way to reconcile the styles. He and his three-piece band played pure jazz with the aesthetic sensibility of rock musicians.

Rendered as jazz standards, Nirvana's "All Apologies" and Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression" sounded no less out of context than excellent Clouser originals like "Serenity Now." All were played with feeling rather than with flash. A friend noted that it was refreshing to hear a guitarist play so slowly. Similarly, Adam Meckler allowed his trumpet to squeak tentatively as he interpreted the lyrics of Kurt Cobain's "All Apologies."

Alas, my highfalutin' theorizing and lavish advance praise isn't good for much. Only about 25 people attended. Clouser's gambit isn't the only promising path to reclaim a vibrant audience for jazz. It is, however, one of the most rewarding.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Now's the Time: Julian Lage

I should know better than to judge a man by his haircut. Based on his clean-cut appearance, I automatically assumed that guitarist Julian Lage was a jazz traditionalist in the mold of John Pizzarelli. Lage, 23, isn't like that at all. He mentions Pat Metheny, David Grisman and Bela Fleck in an EPK from 2009. Lage is actually a newgrass artist in the mold of Chris Thile and Kansas-based guitar hero Andy McKee. Joe Klopus previewed Lage's Monday appearance at the Blue Room and Todd Clouser's concert Sunday at the Record Bar.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*I've never attempted to disguise my infatuation with Esperanza Spalding. Ever since I wrote this essay about the significance of Spalding in 2009, I've taken to calling her "The One." That's why I suspect Tim Finn might be referring to me in his wrap-up of the Grammy Awards. "Her victory was particularly sweet for jazz and other music fans, who tend to dismiss the importance of the Grammys until they win one," he wrote. That's me, all right.

*Michael Shults wrote a fantastic profile of fellow former Kansas Citian Phil DeGreg for All About Jazz.

*Various incarnations of Diverse are praised by KCJazzLark.

*A Bonner Springs publication features Mimi Carbery.

*A February 17 auction in the Chicago area will include a box lot of vintage Kansas City jazz albums.

*Dave Stephens' biggest fan documents a gig.

*Howard Mandel is diligently reporting on the possible end of the Jazz Masters Program. Several recent events at Kansas City's American Jazz Museum have benefited from its connection to the publicly-funded initiative.

*Tweet o' the Week: StLJazzNotes: Bill Frisell to perform Thursday, May 12 at the Old Rock House.

*From Chris Burnett: Live at the Hollywood Theater will open its 2011 Season on March 19, 2011 with a double bill concert featuring the two ensembles led by Chris Burnett and Matt Otto. Both Kansas City-based saxophone artists and composers will present a 45 minute set of combining original works and select work by other composers. There will be an intermission between ensemble performances. The series also serves as a community fundraiser... Future concerts in the Leavenworth series include The Elders (Celtic rock) on May 14 and Angela Hagenbach on November 19.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Preview: Todd Clouser's A Love Electric at the Record Bar

Three unrelated facts about may tell Plastic Sax readers all they need to know about jazz-rock guitarist Todd Clouser.
  • He was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is currently based in Baja, Mexico.
  • He covers Harry Nilsson's "One" on A Love Electric, his invigorating new album on the Ropeadope label.
  • He's performing at the Record Bar on Sunday, February 20, as part of Jeff Harshbarger's Alternative Jazz series.
That's enough to get me excited about the gig, but fence-straddlers might also like to know the following:
  • Trumpeter Steve Bernstein, perhaps best known for his work with Sex Mob, is a frequent Clouser collaborator. (I don't know if Bernstein will be with the band for the gig in Kansas City.)
  • The band might also cover Led Zeppelin and Nirvana.
  • CD Baby suggests the new album is "recommended if you like Jeff Beck, Marc Ribot, Medeski, Martin and Wood." That's about right.
Not your thing? Well, Alaturka returns to Jardine's that night while Mark Lowrey plays at Sullivan's.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Now's the Time: Ellis Marsalis

One of the most intriguing revelations contained in Joe Klopus' preview of Ellis Marsalis' Friday, February 11, concert at the Folly Theater is that Jason Marsalis would be part of his father's band. The young vibraphonist is perhaps best known for his infamous comments about "Jazz Nerds International." I trust his solos in Kansas City won't be "boring and uninteresting."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*David Basse was interviewed by Joel Nichols of KMBZ.

*Lindsay Shannon was featured in The Star's Sunday magazine.

*An NPR-sponsored poll generated a list of the "One Hundred Quintessential Jazz Songs". Here's Kansas City's representation: #55- Count Basie's "April In Paris; #71- Charlie Parker's "Koko"; #83- Count Basie's "One O'Clock Jump"; #90- Charlie Parker's "Yardbird Suite"; #94- Charlie Parker's "Orinthology."

*A performance by Bram Wijnands, Rod Fleeman and Tommy Ruskins was documented by KCJazzLark.

*An update on Dave Stephens is provided by Tony's Kansas City.

*Mark Edelman highlights a few jazz gigs.

*The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra now has a blog.

*Lee Ingalls makes his audio feature on the late Russ Long available to readers of his blog.

*Tweet o' the Week: beauxmuzik: Super bowl at record bar. Plbb performs black eyed peas deconstruction. Matt Otto has a new bass sax. Brains rattled.

*From Jardine's: Thursday, February 10: The Millie Edwards & Michael Pagan Quartet host A Celebration of the Life of Nancy Van Fleet jam session; 5:00 to 7:30 pm, $4 cover; collected cover will be donated to hospice on Nancy's behalf.

*From Mark Lowrey, Plastic Sax's 2010 Person of the Year: It's good to be back in KC after a very rewarding trip to Ouellesebougou, Mali with my friend and musical conspirator Barclay Martin along with the doctors and nurses with Medical Missions Foundation. In the five full days in the village, the 2 surgeons performed 80 some surgeries, the clinic saw over 1100 patients, and Barclay and I did musical presentations focusing on hand washing with soap to over 6000 kids in the schools.

*From Jim Mair: Kansas City Jazz Camp (10th annual), June 6-10, 2011, $195 tuition (includes lunch and field trips), Ages 13 through Adult (beginner through advanced levels), Jazz Combos, daily concerts, group lessons, jazz improvisation classes, Sponsored by The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra and Kansas City Kansas Community College. Additional details are here.

(Original slushy image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Your Looks Are Laughable

Laughable. Unphotographable. Jazz may be, as the Rodgers and Hart standard would have it, my favorite work of art.

Yet I'm continually amazed at the miniscule number of people who share my passion. As I monitored the NEA Jazz Masters induction ceremony online on January 11, I was alarmed to see that the view count never surpassed 575. It's arguably jazz's biggest night of the year. A February 2 webcast by the Aaron Goldberg Trio + 1, well-promoted by NPR for at least a week in advance, drew less than 320 viewers. (A screenshot of the outstanding performance is below.)

Need context? A Ustream chat about video gaming that aired at the same time as the Goldberg concert had 2,873 viewers when I checked on it. And when Kansas City-based rapper Tech N9ne recently made a spontaneous Ustream appearance he attracted over a thousand viewers. (Screenshot above.)

Popular music is, by definition, bigger than jazz. But jazz may be more marginalized today than ever. Several friends openly mock my dedication to Plastic Sax. So why do I bother? That's easy. I love Kansas City's jazz scene and I want to see it prosper again. And maybe- hopefully someday soon- the tide will turn.

Stay, little valentine, stay.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Now's the Time: Bobby Watson & Horizon

Hey, who's that skinny guy at the 0:12 mark of the embedded clip from a 1989 documentary about Art Blakey? Just kidding, Mr. Watson. The distinguished saxophonist- Plastic Sax's Person of the Decade- appears with Horizon, Friday, February 4, at the Gem Theater. Here's Joe Klopus' preview of the concert. Incidentally, a young Terence Blanchard is also in the video. The trumpeter and composer performs at the Gem Theater on April 16.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Tony Botello characterizes your beleaguered correspondent as "middle-aged and tragically hip" in an otherwise interesting editorial about the cultural significance of last week's A Tribe Called Fresh event at the Blue Room. Here's video footage from the show.

*Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will perform October 1 in the Kauffman Center's Helzberg Hall. The Star has the story.

*Jazz Times catches up with Bobby Watson.

*KCJazzLark's camera is capable of taking color photos. Who knew? The blogger's vivid images of Megan Birdsall and New Jazz Order are outstanding.

*"If nobody cares about your music it's your own damn fault," asserts Hunter Long in a typically provocative Black House Improvisors' Collective post.

*NPR's obsessive coverage of Joe Lovano's new Charlie Parker project continues with an interview.

*A 2007 interview is the highlight of a nice KCUR feature about the late Tony DiPardo.

*Tweet o' the Week: sbpaul: Tenor saxist Steve Lambert leads his quartet in a CD-release session, cool and Coltraneish, now at Jardines.#kc #jazz

*Plastic Sax's Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated to include February's gigs.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)