Sunday, May 22, 2011

An Immodest Proposal

I've written extensively about the vast disparity between the size of the audience for "new" jazz and the quality of the music being performed in Kansas City. Too many times the musicians on stage outnumber the members of the audience. That's not right. And I wish someone would do something about it. In spite of the following exercise in futility, that person isn't me.

Here's my dead-on-arrival idea. I propose a three-day multi-venue "new jazz" festival featuring left-of-center jazz by (mostly) Kansas City-based musicians. I've given the ambitious event the working title of Curtis Got Slapped. Are you with me so far?

It's not entirely outside the realm of possibility. Just last month thousands of music fans purchased tickets to the inaugural Middle of the Map festival in Kansas City. The accomplishment was all the more remarkable because the rock-based event lacked any big stars. (Of course, it's all relative. Appearances by festival headliners Cursive, for instance, attract a few hundred people. That's not much in the rock world, but it'd be a huge for a jazz act.)

It's precisely fans of indie rock acts like Cursive that I'd like this festival to reach. The music featured at CGS will be more appealing to fans of TV On the Radio than to fans of Stan Getz. Perhaps by presenting these alternative jazz acts in a semi-coherent fashion, Pitchfork-obsessed hipsters will realize that they've been missing out on a compelling scene.

Here's my proposed schedule for CGS. (Rather than drag unsuspecting venues into this theoretical discussion, I changed the names of the clubs.)

Midtown Depot, downstairs stage
800 Mr. Marco's V7
1000 NewEar
1200 Quixotic featuring Brandon Draper (conceptual jazz-oriented collabo)

800 Snuff Jazz
1000 BCR
1200 Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

800 Logan Richardson
1000 Bobby Watson's 29th Street Saxophone Quartet (reunited for GGS!)
1200 The People's Liberation Big Band

Midtown Depot, upstairs stage
800 Andrew McGhie Quartet
1000 Loren Pickford (triumphant return)
1200 Mark Lowrey with Drums

800 Harold O'Neal
1000 CrossCurrent
1200 Alaturka

800 Popes of Dope
1000 Mike Metheny
1200 Battle of the Big Bands: Clint Ashlock's New Jazz Order vs. Dirty Force Brass Band (The concept: Ashlock's band, seated, and DFBB, marching, alternate selections in a vicious cage match.)

Gardens on the Plaza
800 Shay Estes and Mark Lowrey
1000 Matt Otto Quartet
1200 Sir Threadius Mongus

800 Charles Gatschet
1000 Jerry Hahn
1200 Black House Improvisors Collective

800 Chris Burnett
1000 Roger Wilder Quartet
1200 Diverse

Vinyl Pub
800 BeardKCrazy
1000 Hearts of Darkness
1200 The Dead Kenny G's

800 This Is My Condition
100 Phonologotron
1200 Mouth

800 Miles Bonny
1000 Mark Lowrey vs Hip Hop
1200 Garage a Trois

Just look at all that talent! And I left out a lot of excellent artists. KC, as my rapper friends like to say, is the town. Tickets prices, artist compensation and promotional efforts will have to be worked out by a much better person than me. Good luck with that.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)


Anonymous said...

I'd have to work on my least-functional superpower: Being in two places at the same time!

Happy In Bag said...

Yeah, I didn't worry about double-booking musicians. Sorry about creating that theoretical problem, friend.

Hunter said...

Funny you should mention, Black House is currently in talks to put on a 3 day mini festival at La Esquina next year featuring original local jazz. I'll keep you posted.


Jason Bata said...

I am the Jazz Director at Lincoln Prep. Have you thought about incorporating the local schools. It would help get more people in for the other groups and maybe broaden the ongoing audience of the professional groups.

I know I am always looking for better performances for my students than the traditional HS Jazz Festival with the trophies & such. Not very authentic to me.

I could easily go on about this.

BO said...

Most of the musicians listed love to play for free so that will work perfectly.

Wynton said...

I agree Jason. The traditional jazz festivals with trophies and such make educators have to teach style, fundamentals, playing in tune, technique and the history of american music not to mention musicality. I can't stand that S****!

Bravo for speaking out!


Russell Thorpe said...

I can haz nothing dismissive or anti-neo-post- traditional to say. brilliant. effusive praise bubbles from the hole in the front of my head. I even like the idea of exposing youngsters to our indecency

Anonymous said...

Love everything about your idea EXCEPT the name you proposed for the event... 'cmon Bill!

Jason Bata said...

Ignoring your derisive sarcasm, Wynton, all of that should be taught.

It can be done without the trophies and saying "I am better than you are", though. Competition can be healthy and driving, but it should not override the making of music for the sake of the music, which is what often happens. I say this having grown up and competed in Iowa and their State Jazz Championships.

While it is great to get my band out to the colleges for these festivals, it would also be great to get the kids into more traditional venues for jazz that they normally are not allowed in.

Russell Thorpe said...

Bata I like you!

beena said...

Hi Bill,

I love your proposal. It's awesome!


Sid said...

I love competition for jazz bands. Kids push themselves. Educators work harder and it teaches musicians to polish a piece of music. HS jazz bands are mediocre to poor in Kansas City because of the lack of competition. I'veh eard them ALL many times over the years.

Mark said...

Let's do it.

Happy In Bag said...

An accidental version of the CGS festival takes place tonight (Thursday) in Kansas City. The Miles Davis tribute features young guys covering all phases of Miles' career. A fine Brazilian jazz band plays at "Gardens." Skronky jazz is featured at a German restaurant. A freewheeling organ summit takes place elsewhere. Look for me tonight.

I'll keep my fingers crossed, Hunter.

I'm on Jason's side.

I know it's wrong, Anon 726. I just can't help it. Besides, I didn't want anyone to confuse this post with real life. But if Beena's in... And if Mark's behind it...

Cb said...

Totally missed this post. Where do I get tickets? LOL ... no, seriously, a left-of-center festival would be cool and likely well attended, IMHO. Peace, Cb

P.S. - thanks for the gig, HIB.