Monday, December 26, 2011

Size Does Matter: Kansas City's Bounty of Big Bands

"Don't look any further," Louis Neal said as he introduced an interpretation of the Dennis Edwards hit during a November gig at the Blue Room. "You're listening to the best big band in Kansas City."

Although I'm affiliated with another of Kansas City's big bands, I didn't even consider raising an objection. I loved hearing what many of the region's best musicians- Clint Ashlock, Gerald Dunn, Charles Perkins and Charles Williams among them- did under Neal's direction during a sleek arrangement of the dusty R&B song.

At least ten big bands regularly perform in the Kansas City area. Four different big bands recently appeared in four different venues on four consecutive nights. Area jazz fans are incredibly fortunate.

Each of these aggregations has a different sensibility. I can't claim that everything the ensembles perform is entirely fresh, but the recent work of the late Bob Brookmeyer and the influence of acts like Radiohead are welcome reminders that the big band repertoire continues to evolve. Besides, nothing else provides the visceral thrill that can only be produced by a big band.

(Original image of the Louis Neal Big Band at the Blue Room by Plastic Sax.)


Matt Leifer said...

Keep your eyes and ears open for announcements regarding a springtime showdown between Bobby Watson's UMKC Big Band and Clint Ashlock's New Jazz Order.

We're going to duke it out, old school. Two bands, one bill. Details TBA.

I know myself and fellow band mates are extremely excited for this.

Happy In Bag said...

Thanks for the tip, Matt. I'm excited!