Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Jeff Davis, perhaps best known for his association with Sir Threadius Mongus, gave me permission to link to a new track titled "A Thread". The lineup is Matt Otto - tenor, Andrew McGhie - tenor, Russell Thorpe - bass clarinet, Jeff Davis - guitar and composition, Mike Stover - bass and Pat Adams - drums. This amazing music is particularly pertinent considering recent heated discussions like this about what constitutes the true sound of Kansas City jazz in 2011.

*Diana Krall and Itzhak Perlman will perform with the Kansas City Symphony on September 17, the "grand opening night" of Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center.

*Andrew Mcghie is featured in an interview at the Black House Improvisors' Collective site.

*The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has a new president.

*Typically great photos of Matt Otto's group are shared by KCJazzLark.

*Bill Blankenship offers a roundup of live jazz in Topeka.

*Kansas City pianist Ronald Brown has died.

*Big show announcements and reminders: The Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey kick off a tour at Crosstown Station on Wednesday, March 30. The legendary Benny Golson will appear at the Blue Room on Friday, April 1. Joe Lovano plays the Folly Theater on Saturday, April 2. Kerry Strayer's 17-piece big band will be at Jardine's on Sunday, April 3. The Jeff Hamilton Trio perform at Jardine's on May 20 & 21. Marilyn Maye returns to Jardine's for an extended run June 14-19.

*We!, a jazz-related performance art piece, was reviewed by Tim Finn.

*An artist, an art gallery, a magazine and musician Sonny Simmons combine forces in an unusual homage to Charlie Parker.

*The Telegraph featured Joe Lovano's tribute to Charlie Parker.

*Tweet o' the Week: Kmahogany: Clyde Stubblefield is killing it on Jimmy Fallon show!!

*Nicholas Payton retweeted Clint Ashlock.

*Press release via Stan Kessler: The 4th Annual Masters of KC Jazz Fundraiser for Kansas City Youth Jazz is really going to be hopping this year as the organization is throwing a Big Band Dinner Dance featuring The Abel Ramirez Big Band, with special performances by the KCYJ Reno Band and combos. The dinner and dance will take place on Sunday, April 10, 2011, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at The Madrid Theater... Details are here.

*From Jim Mair: The Kansas City High School All Star Jazz Ensemble will perform at Jardines on Tuesday April 5 at 5:30pm. Also included on the bill are “The Standard” Vocal Jazz ensemble from KCKCC and the KCKCC Jazz Combo. The Kansas City High School All Star Jazz Ensemble is made up of All State and All District Jazz students from across the metro. Although groups like this exist all over the continent this is actually a first for Kansas City...

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

West Side Story Ticket Contest

A new production of West Side Story will be staged at the Music Hall in Kansas City April 5-10. What's this have to do with jazz? Well, in addition to Leonard Bernstein's jazz-influenced score, Dave Brubeck, Stan Kenton and Oscar Peterson are among the artists who have released albums dedicated to the musical's songs.

A pair of tickets to the production's opening night performance on April 5, courtesy of the Theater League, will be awarded to a lucky Plastic Sax reader. The first person to name my favorite song from West Side Story in the comment section of this post will win the tickets. Only one guess per comment, please. I recommend identifying yourself to avoid any potential hijinks. I've previously shared my favorite song with my contact at the Theater League.

Non-winners are encouraged to use the code word SALSA to purchase West Side Story tickets at a 20% discount at Ticketmaster.

And before you smart alecks get cute, the correct response isn't "I Feel Pretty". (That's my second-favorite West Side Story song.)

Good luck.

(Image supplied by the Theater League.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Le Jazz Hot

I rubbed my eyes in disbelief at a newsstand in a Paris train station earlier this month. Prominently positioned between gossip tabloids and serious news publications was a European jazz magazine featuring a cover story on Charlie Parker. I saw similar indications of jazz's viability in Europe as I also wandered through Amsterdam and Brussels. Buskers were just as likely to perform "All Blues" as "Proud Mary." Bookstores boasted substantial jazz sections. Club listings promised exciting discoveries. Europe may not be the promised land for jazz in 2011, but it's definitely a far more significant cultural force than in its homeland. It's no surprise, consequently, that Paris hosted a few notable Kansas City-based jazz musicians this month.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Now's the Time: Dianne Reeves

Dianne Reeves performs Friday, March 25 at the Gem Theater. Joe Klopus interviewed the daring vocalist.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Here's the initial word on Karrin Allyson's forthcoming album. (Tip via Steve Paul.)

*KCJazzLark challenges the gist of Plastic Sax's March 7 post.

*A jazz-related art exhibit is plugged by Steve Penn.

*Mary Stallings is praised by Joe Klopus in his most recent column.

*Joe Lovano's new tribute to Charlie Parker received another rapturous review. The saxophonist performs at the Folly Theater on April 2.

*Tweet o' the Week: bandcalledmouth: Just looking at our web-stats... 2,500+ downloads from over 35 countries since last May. Nice! Check out our site

*I've been offline for almost two weeks. I apologize for allowing comment approval for the ongoing conversation to lag.

*From a press release: Wednesday, May 4, 2011; Kansas City Kansas Community College Jazz Extravaganza: KCKCC Big Band, Jazz Combo and Vocal Jazz Ensemble "The Standard" under the direction of Jim Mair, Jurgen Welge, John Stafford & Mike Ning. Music by Count Basie, The Beatles, Freddie Hubbard, Thelonious Monk, Bobby McFerrin, Charlie Parker, Pat Metheny, Thad Jones and so much more!

*From Jim Mair: The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra and Kansas City Jazz Alliance in cooperation with Kansas City Kansas Community College are pleased to collaborate on the 10th annual Kansas City Jazz Camp. The dates are June 6-10, 2011. We have assembled an outstanding faculty and would very much enjoy having your fine students ages 13 and up to participate. The jazz camp includes classes in jazz improvisation for beginners, through advanced along with small group performance ensembles. Master classes and jazz history will also be included. The week will conclude with an afternoon student performance at the 12th Street Rag Room in the Downtown Marriot hotel... If you would like further information please give me a call. 913-288-7503.

(Original image of Alaturka sign in Brussels, Belgium, by Plastic Sax.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Elke Mermis reviewed Arturo Sandoval's recent concert at the Folly Theater.

*KCJazzLark examines 2010 recordings by Pete Eye and Michael Pagan.

*You've probably never seen Mark Lowrey in this context. (He appears at the 0:33 mark.)

*Bill Blankenship offers a profile of HoraceScope.

*Remember last summer's ill-fated smooth jazz concerts at Crown Center? Here's a related story.

*Camp KC features an interesting preview of Marilyn Maye's March 26 appearance with the Heartland Men's Chorus at the Folly Theater.

*Steve Penn reports that Ray Reed is ailing.

*Mike Stover is interviewed at the site of the Black House Improvisors' Collective.

*The previous Plastic Sax post initiated a contentious conversation.

*Tweet o' the Week: KCJazzConnxn: Hangin at the Oread hotel and Dick Oatts is jammin with Christian McBride on drums. Yes drums. And he is killin it. #humbling

*From the American Jazz Museum: Stories From the Vine Session, Saturday, March 12 1:00 pm-2:30 pm; Celebrating Women in Jazz: Barriers and Inspirations with Howard Hesseman, Helen Sung & Mardra Thomas. Moderated by Greg Carroll.

*Plastic Sax will be on a two week hiatus starting... now."

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Jazz Checkup

This is going to hurt a little bit.

I ran a detailed analysis of the March music calendars for Kansas City's three most recognized jazz clubs. The results raise a few interesting questions. When is a jazz club no longer a jazz club? What's the difference between jazz and R&B? And what would I do without my calculator?

The Blue Room, Jardine's and The Phoenix have a combined 96 events in March. Of these, 46 are mainstream jazz, 6 are experimental jazz, 21 are R&B, 5 are international music and 18 are rock, folk or blues. That means that only 54% of the bookings are mainstream or experimental jazz. Some might argue that the Phoenix has evolved into a blues club. Fair enough. Remove the Phoenix from the equation and the combined jazz bookings at the Blue Room and Jardine's rises to a modest 61%.

Although the Gaslight Grill and the Majestic offer live jazz, I didn't include them in my calculations because they seem to emphasize the restaurant aspect of their businesses. A couple other rooms that feature live music couldn't be included because, well, you know.

I don't begrudge clubs for expanding their reach. With the possible exception of the Blue Room, which is at least partially publicly-funded, these establishments are businesses that need to turn a profit. Besides, I'm hardly a purist. I've lobbied for a weekly jazz-meets-hip hop night at the Blue Room. And I'm a big fan of a folk artist who regularly performs at Jardine's.

Just five years ago, any one of these non-jazz bookings would have raised eyebrows. Yet if this trend continues- and there's no reason to believe that it won't- jazz will eventually become a secondary consideration in these rooms.

The fate of live jazz in Kansas City, of course, doesn't hinge on a single venue. Also noteworthy are the occasional jazz bookings at rock emporiums like the Brick and the Record Bar, JCCC's noontime series, Tim Whitmer's monthly Spirituality and All That Jazz, the efforts of the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra and the excellent jazz series at both the Folly and the Gem.

Would you like a Band-Aid?

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Now's the Time: Glen David Andrews

I stumbled across the name of Glen David Andrews while updating the Kansas City Jazz Calendar. The self-proclaimed "Crown Prince of Treme" will perform Monday, Fat Tuesday eve, at the Blue Room. Pamela of Bebopified, my trustworthy counterpart in Minneapolis, raved about an Andrews appearance a few months ago. He sounds like an absolute wild man. His old-school Southern gospel performance in the embedded video is great, but I suspect Monday will be more like this. Laissez le bon temps rouler.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Sue Vicory is selling unpackaged screener versions of her Kansas City Jazz & Blues: Past, Present & Future documentary at her new site. Each DVD is $10 plus $1 shipping through her PayPal link.

*Greg Carroll of the American Jazz Museum tells Steve Penn about Blue Room Ale.

*An intriguing new track from a rehearsal is available at the latest post by the Black House Improvisors' Collective.

*I never tire of saying it- KCJazzLark is a great photographer. He documented last month's Junior Mance Quintet performance at the Blue Room.

*Tim Finn explains how many Kansas City musicians celebrate carnival season.

*NPR provides yet another (wholly deserving) feature on Joe Lovano's Charlie Parker tribute album. The saxophonist plays the Folly Theater on April 2.

*Jay McShann and Ollie Gates are invoked in an interesting story about schoolchildren in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

*Brad Mehldau will perform in Columbia, Missouri, on April 8. (Initial tip via Steve Paul.)

*Here are reports #56 and #57 on Dave Stephens from you-know-who.

*A tourist asks where he can hear jazz while dining on barbecue during a visit to Kansas City. That's a real head-scratcher.

*Uruguayan jazz pianist Gustavo Casenave performed the music of Astor Piazzolla in Kansas City last weekend. A dullard reviewed the concert.

*Tweet o' the Week: KCTrumpeter I'm playing Jardines tonight from 6-10 w/ Peter Schlamb (STL/NYC), Karl McComas-Reichl (Iowa/NYC), and Ryan Lee!. (I also recommend following trumpeter Nicholas Payton.)

*From Jim Mair of Kansas City Kansas Community College: Yale University's student a cappella vocal jazz ensemble, Redhot & Blue, will give a midday performance in PAC on March 14th at 2pm. They will also have an exchange with our vocal jazz ensemble, "The Standard" at Noon in the Choir Room. Both events are free and the public is invited! Watch the ensemble perform "Summertime" here.

*From the University of Kansas: The KU School of Music is pleased to present the 34th Annual KU Jazz Festival on March 4-5, and a new component to this year’s festival is the KU Jazz Festival After Hours Jazz Sessions held at The Oread--All Seasons Den (1200 Oread Avenue, Lawrence, KS), Friday and Saturday evening, March 4-5, from 10pm-12:30am. These jazz sessions will feature various performers from the KU Jazz Festival: Friday evening performers include pianist and KU graduate Nick Weiser and saxophonist and Eastman School of Music graduate Will Cleary. Wayne Hawkins, KU lecturer in jazz piano, will headline the Saturday evening session, and on both Friday and Saturday evenings Jeff Harshbarger, KU lecturer in jazz bass, and Sam Wisman, Kansas City jazz drummer, will perform. Admission to these sessions is free; cash bar will be available.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)