Thursday, February 28, 2013

Now's the Time: Kurt Rosenwinkel

As Joe Klopus notes in his excellent preview of the event, Kurt Rosenwinkel performs at the 36th Annual KU Jazz Festival on Saturday, March 2.  The acclaimed guitarist has become one of the most distinctive figures in jazz during the past decade.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Demencha published a review of Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle's Freedom of Expression.

*KCJazzLark suggests that the shuttering of Jardine's may have been a blessing in disguise.

*A blogger documented Sunday's tribute to Thelonious Monk at the RecordBar.

*Bobby Watson participated in a panel discussion titled “Art Blakey: The Jazz Message” at this month's Portland Jazz Festival.

*The Lawrence Journal-World offers an excellent profile of the Junkyard Jazz band.

*The Great Band Tribune reports that "KC jazz icon" David Basse will perform at the Great Bend Jazz Festival this weekend.

*A Topeka television station provides footage of Angela Hagenbach performing at a library function.

*The Black House Improvisors' Collective shares a new set of photos.

*Phonologotron's Soundcloud profile remains active.

*Cover Art, the debut album by the Next Collective, an all-star band that includes Kansas City's Logan Richardson, was released this week.

*A blog run by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation reminds readers that Charlie Parker's residence in the East Village is designated as an official historical landmark.

*Tonight's Tribute to J Dilla show at the Blue Room has been postponed.

*Tweet o' the Week: Clint Ashlock-"Snowed In At a Gas Station on K-10" #shouldabeencountrysong #nopeitstruelife

*Comment of the Week: Sid- Footnote to KC Star review: Kenny Garrett and Bobby Watson. Two virtuosos, brilliant artists and both sound innovators. (They changed the sound of the alto saxophone.)  Only one person sounds like Bobby Watson. In two notes you can identify him.  Kenny Garrett on the other hand used to be identifiable in one note but he has influenced an entire generation of players based on his tone itself. Now its harder to tell who you are listening to.  Not since David Sanborn in the 1970's has an alto saxophonists tone been imitated so much. Dozens of alto players sound similar to Kenny Garrett.  Similar comparison with tenor saxophone. Coltrane's tone influenced (and still does) several generations and the next guy to "change" the tone was Mike Brecker again in the 1970's and he influenced an entire generation.  The question that is interesting to me is that why has Kenny Garrett's sound been so enticing to copy and not Bobby's.  I personally enjoy both of them very much even though they are quite different in so many ways.  Anybody want to weigh in.  Thanks, Sid

*From Brad Cox: New York trumpeter Dave Scott will perform with The People's Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City at the RecordBar on Sunday, March 3rd at 8:00pm. The band will perform a night of compositions and arrangements by Scott, with the composer as featured soloist.

*A reminder from Michael Pagán: Jazz Jam Session every Saturday afternoon at Piropos Piano Bar in Briarcliff.

*From Kent Rausch: (T)he Vine Street Rumble concert (at Californos) has been postponed to Monday, March 11th.

*From a press release: A Night of Harmonious Horn. Stan Kessler, Trumpet performing with Tim Whitmer & The Consort Band.  Kansas City Jazz Legend Stan Kessler is not only a gifted performer but also wears the many hats of trumpet/flugelhorn instructor, bandleader, clinician, writer/arranger and educator. He performs, and leads, in numerous ensembles including the long-running Sons of Brasil, The Stan Kessler Quartet, Stan Kessler’s TV, HoraceScope, The Uncertainty Principle, Mistra Fina and Passport. Wednesday, March 6, 2013. 7:00 p.m. Unity Temple on the Plaza. Tickets at the door only $7.00. Children under 16 free.

*From Dan Gailey: The KU School of Music is pleased to present the 36th Annual KU Jazz Festival on March 1-2, 2013, featuring notable guest artists Bob Sheppard, saxophone, and Kurt Rosenwinkel, guitar. Both concerts will be held at Free State High School Auditorium in Lawrence at 7:30 pm and are open to the general public…

On Friday, March 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Free State High School Auditorium, saxophonist Bob Sheppard will be featured with the KU Jazz Festival All-Star Big Band... The Jazz Festival All-Star Big Band features KU School of Music faculty, along with some of the nation's finest jazz educators and prominent musicians from the Kansas City jazz community. The concert will open with Free State High School Jazz Ensemble I and the festival's chosen Outstanding High School Ensemble from the daytime performances.

The concert on Saturday, March 2nd features guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel with KU Jazz Ensemble I, under the direction of Dan Gailey, director of jazz studies at KU… The performance will include new big band arrangements of Rosenwinkel's music written by KU Jazz Studies faculty, students and alumni. The concert will open with KU Combo 1 and the KU Jazz Singers, and the festival's chosen Outstanding College Ensemble….

KU Jazz Festival After Hours (featuring the Matt Otto trio) will be held at the Oread in the All Seasons Den following the evening concerts from 10:00 pm-12:30 am both evenings. Admission is free; a cash bar is available.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: Pat Metheny- The Orchestrion Project

I'm an ardent fan of Pat Metheny's Orchestrion concept.  I've witnessed performances of Metheny's tour in support of the groundbreaking undertaking on two continents.

Yet the recent release of the audio-only version The Orchestrion Project makes me feel as if I'm experiencing the endeavor for the first time.  (Uninitiated readers are encouraged to watch this three-minute promotional video.)

The sound quality seemed fine at the Orchestrion concerts I attended in Kansas City and Rome.  Yet the mix is substantially different on the new release.  Listeners can safely infer that the sound field of the live recording is set to Metheny's specifications.   The album also demonstrates how far the concept has progressed since the initial 2010 recording.

The Orchestrion offers an amazing spectacle. Yet divorced from the stupendous visual distractions,  The Orchestrion Project is an excellent stand-alone recording.

Metheny's identifiable traits, of course, are readily apparent.   The sentimentalism that causes many imperceptive people to dismiss all of Metheny's work materializes on "Soul Search."  Fresh versions of old favorites like the discordant "80/81" and the lovely "Sueño Con Mexico" clarify the ways in which Metheny deploys the Orchestrion.  A mechanical rhythm section- my sole objection to the project- is especially apparent on "Spirit of the Air."

Given Metheny's brilliance, the supposed flaw could very well be a deliberate commentary on the philosophical implications of his elaborate one-man-band.  The Orchestrion Project serves as further evidence that the iconoclastic artist is one of the most important musicians of our time.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Now's the Time: The Vine Street Rumble Jazz Orchestra

The Vine Street Rumble Jazz Orchestra will perform a free concert at Californos on Monday, February 25.  The multi-generational tradition-minded band includes heavy hitters like Rod Fleeman, Steve Lambert and Lonnie McFadden.  The Benny Carter composition that gave the ensemble its name is almost certainly in its repertoire.  Carter directs a German band in the embedded video.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*JJ's, a Plaza-area restaurant that regularly featured live jazz, was destroyed by a natural gas explosion yesterday.

*KCJazzLark praises the Green Lady Lounge.

*The Kansas City Star reviewed last weekend's concerts by Kenny Garrett, Kurt Elling and Bobby Watson with the Kansas City SymphonyKC Metropolis also offers a review of Garrett's performance.

*Here's tantalizing footage of a rehearsal for Bobby Watson's collaboration with the Kansas City Symphony.

*Michael Shults performed the National Anthem at a University of Cincinnati game.

*Brandon Draper's February 16 set at Take Five Coffee + Bar is available as a free download at Bandcamp.

*The Jorge Arana Trio are captured in a session at KJHK.

*Phonologotron posted a portion of a recording from a recent rehearsal.

*Chris Burnett shares another draft of an arrangement of a new composition.

*Prior to Kenny Garrett's performance, Gale Tallis, Executive Director of the Folly Theater, announced that Stan Kessler and Matt Otto would perform with Matthew Rybicki at the bassist's concert on March 9.

*Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will return to Helzberg Hall on October 19.

*Joe Sample will be 12th Street Jump's featured guest artist in a taping of the show at White Recital Hall on March 26.

*UMKC will host the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference in 2014. The University News reports that "(t)he speakers and entertainment for the event will be focused on" the "Jazzin' It Up" theme.

*A new exhibit at the University of Kansas is titled “Rhythm and Meaning: Jazz at KU.” (Via Offstage.)

*You Tube gold: "UMKC Concert Jazz Band Rehearsal with Howard Johnson (2006)".

*Tweet o' the Week: brandondraper- Free Album!!! Ambient, drum 'n bass, hip hop, jazz, rock, 70's funk, Afro-Cuban,indie-rock.

*Comment of the Week: Nigel- That ladies and Gentlemen is how to hold the audience in the palm of your hand. It was a great clinic in "working the room".  Class, grace, style, polish and COMPETENCE!

*From Bill Lee: 95-year-old Clyde Bysom and his band Junkyard Jazz will be inducted into the Kansas Music Halll of Fame at Liberty Hall inn Lawrence on March 2. Junkyard jazz plays at the Lawrence American Legion Hall every Thursday evening.  Other 2013 inducteees are the Devestating Dinks (Salina), the Exceptions (Topeka), Ray Hildebrand (Paul of Paul & Paula, Prairie Village), Kerry Livgren (Berryton), Chuck Mead (Lawrence), Mystic Number National Bank (KC), the Playmate Blues Band (Hays), the Tempests (Hays), Steve Werner (KC), the Wizards From Kansas (Lawrence), Sherman Halsey (Independence, KS) and Larry Emmett & the Sliders (DeSoto).

*From Jason Bata: The Lincoln Prep Bands are hosting a benefit concert for their Wind Ensemble's trip to perform in Carnegie Hall this March.  The Lincoln Prep Jazz Ensemble & Combo will start the concert that will then feature The Kicks Big Band with Horace Washington.  The concert begins at 7:30pm on Thursday, February 21, in the LCPA Auditorium (2111Woodland). There will be food beforehand for $5 (burritos or nachos & a drink).

*From Kent Rausch: Roarin' Out Of KC! Kansas City's Vine Street Rumble Jazz Orchestra was formed to honor the legacy of the "golden era" of our city's world renowned jazz history. The band exclusively performs the same outrageously exciting music that made Kansas City THE place to be in the 30's and 40's, dedicated to taking the audience back to the wildly famous "jam sessions" and concert performances that literally changed the jazz world and influenced musicians from coast to coast and beyond… Saxophone: Mike Herrera, Steve Lambert, Brett Jackson, Carl Bender; Trumpet: Jay Sollenberger, Barry Springer, Al Pearson; Trombone: Jason Goudeau, Dan Strom; Piano: Walter Bryant; Guitar: Rod Fleeman; Bass: Zach Beeson; Drums: Jurgen Welge; Vocals: Lonnie McFadden. When:   Monday Feb. 25, 2013  8:00-9:30pm.  Where:  Californos.  Cost: Free!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Review: Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle- The Freedom of Expression

Of the many notable albums that have been released in the past few years by Kansas City-based jazz musicians, only a few have pleased me more than Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle's new release The Freedom of Expression.   In addition to documenting the formidable talent of several young musicians, the project serves as a reminder that everything is indeed up to date in Kansas City. 

With the exception of "Liberation," the mainstream closing track, The Freedom of Expression is a bracing collection of modal neo-soul grooves.  Imagine 1968-era Herbie Hancock filtered through 2009-era Robert Glasper.

Because I don't possess a physical copy of the album, I'm unsure of the specific credits.  The core of the band is keyboardist Eddie Moore, guitarist Matt Hopper, bassist Dominique Sanders and drummer Matt Leifer.  Saxophonists Erik Blume and Andy McGhie also make appearances.

Knowledge of such details isn't necessary to appreciate The Freedom of Expression.  No one- not even Moore- attempts to draw excessive attention to his contributions.  Even "Anger Management," the loudest track, maintains a pleasing low-key atmosphere.  A few selections are hampered by an annoying buzz that I presume is emitted by an amp, a reflection of the session's casual vibe. 

Yet listeners shouldn't confusing the relaxed ambience of The Freedom of Expression with nonchalance.  The beautiful album represents an important touchstone in the evolution of Kansas City jazz.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Now's the Time: Kurt Elling

Kurt Elling is almost certainly the elite male jazz vocalist of the new millennium.  He performs at the Gem Theater on Saturday, February 16.  Joe Klopus previewed the weekend's concerts by Elling, Kenny Garrett and Bobby Watson.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Pat Metheny won his twentieth Grammy Award on Sunday when Unity Band was named Best Jazz Instrumental Album.  Metheny spoke to his hometown newspaper last month.  (Via Pat Metheny News.)   Additionally, the audio version of Metheny's The Orchestrion Project was released yesterday. 

*Diverse appears in a new music video for Reach's "How To Fish".

*Eddie Moore tells Ink magazine about the music he loves.  A prominent hip hop blog compliments Moore's new album.

*Chris Burnett suggests that Kansas City's jazz veterans including Bob Bowman, Deborah Brown, Rod Fleeman and Will Matthews are unfairly overlooked by taste-makers.

*The promotional efforts for the Next Collective's forthcoming album,  continue with a quip from Logan Richardson.

*Chuck Berg reviewed Wycliffe Gordon's recent performance in Topeka. (Via Offstage.)

*YouTube gold- Check out John Park's gorgeous solo on "I Can't Get Started" "(f)rom the out-of print "If Winter Comes" LP. Recorded in 1975 at Kansas City jazz fest."

*Tweet o' the Week: Heinlein Music- @HappyInBag named "Become Light" the 2nd best KC jazz CD last year. The guy that got first just won a Grammy. We're OK with 2nd.

*Comment of the Week: Cb- HIB: "Is Kenny Garrett the fully-realized artistic heir of John Coltrane?" Cb: No. Kenny Garrett has is own distinct thing that seems to be more based upon what he was doing with Miles (only acoustic). Steve Coleman and his M-Base theorists might be closer to the John Coltranes of our age - if such a distinction could actually even exists. Of course, just my opinion ;) Peace, Cb

*From the Kansas City Symphony: Kansas City's very own Bobby Watson will host a jazz master class on Saturday, February 16 at 11 a.m. in Helzberg Hall. This event is free and open to the public and reservations are required.

*From a press release: Pianist Amina Figarova… comes to Kansas City as part of a 12-city US tour with "one of jazz' very best working bands"... on Thursday, March 7 at The Blue Room.  Figarova's sextet, featuring Bart Platteau on flutes, Ernie Hammes on trumpet, Marc Mommaas on tenor sax, Jeroen Vierdag on bass and Chris "Buckshot" Strik on drums, tours in support of its 2012 album Twelve, which has earned wide critical acclaim.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Review: Voyage

Opening an album with a ballad takes gumption.  The unconventional strategy works on Voyage, the self-titled album by a quartet of Kansas City musicians. 

The wistful "The New Moon" begins with a conversation between Forest Stewart's resonant bass, composer Mike Warren's wary drumming and Wayne Hawkins' delicate piano.  The rapturously beautiful tone is further enhanced when saxophonist Dan Thomas gently takes the melodic lead. 

The selection's superb musicianship, sensitive interplay and formidable compositional sensibility showcase the quartet's strengths. Their eminently listenable album is polite but not mild-mannered.

Voyage's mainstream post-bop tone will be familiar to listeners who appreciate classic Bobby Watson albums like Present Tense.  The similarity isn't an accident.  Anyone who's attended a jazz function at the University of Missouri-Kansas City during the past several years likely noticed a slender man standing alongside the famed Watson.  That's Thomas.  Like Watson, Thomas is both a respected UMKC instructor and a powerful saxophonist.  He's the yin to Watson's yang. 

Four of Voyage's nine tracks are Thomas' compositions.  The brash "Shock and Awe"- my favorite selection- is a chaotic maelstrom.  Thomas' virtuosity is also responsible for the album's weakest moment.  His primary solo on Hawkins' "Brazilian Haiku" is a technical triumph. Impressive?  No doubt.  Emotionally resonant?  Afraid not.  It's the only track on which the band resembles inhibited music professors. 

Thomas may be the dominant voice on the album but Voyage is a true band.  Warren is one of Kansas City's most distinctive drummers.  Voyage serves as an excellent document of his playing.  Stewart locks in with Warren throughout.  The soulful groove of his "I'll Miss All of Those Things" makes it one of the album's strongest tracks.  His solos on Hawkins' "Truth and Beauty" and Thomas' "Lamenting" also impress.  Hawkins' nuanced contributions reinforce Voyage's enticing ambiance.

Voyage was released to little fanfare last September.  It deserves to be heard. 

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Now's the Time: Kenny Garrett

Is Kenny Garrett the fully-realized artistic heir of John Coltrane?  The unjust question continues to haunt Garrett's career.  I have yet to make up my mind even after years of studying Pursuance: The Music of John Coltrane, Garrett's stellar 1996 album featuring Pat Metheny.  The band performing at an Italian club in the embedded clip will appear at the Folly Theater on Friday, February 15. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Logan Richardson tells The Revivalist about the role he plays in the forthcoming album by the Next Collective.

*KCJazzLark's provocative commentary on the size and scope of Kansas City's jazz audience is fascinating.

*Matt Hopper is singled out for praise in a review of the debut album by Eddie Moore & the Outer Circle.

*Diverse made a portion of a recent Michael Jackson tribute performance available as a free download.

*The Prairie Village Post reports that a professional fundraiser may be utilized by the Prairie Village Jazz Festival.  (Tip via Offstage.)

*Tim Finn checks in with Jeff Harshbarger about the bassist's forthcoming trip to Europe.

*The American Jazz Museum's Glenn North spoke to The Kansas City Star about the relationship between jazz and poetry.

*Phonologotronic shares a "teaser".

*The Pitch reveals that UMKC has a student-run internet radio station.  And yes, the schedule indicates that there's jazz programming.

*All About Jazz offers an extensive review of the audio portion of Pat Metheny's The Orchestrion Project.  (Via Pat Metheny News.)

*Jef Lee Johnson has died.  The guitarist performed with Esperanza Spalding at Helzberg Hall last October.

*Tweet o' the Week: JeneeinKC- Jazz and Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop and Jazz. I love KC.

*Comment of the Week: Stanton Kessler- Thank you Mr.Sax, I am thrilled that you liked our project so much! Hopefully, it will induce more people to enjoy us live. Mike, you are too kind.

*Via the Folly Theater: The lineup for Kenny Garrett's February 15 concert is Kenny Garrett - saxophone, Rudy Bird, percussion, Vernell Brown, Jr., piano, Corcoran Holt, bass, McClenty Hunter, Jr.,drums.

*From Jim Mair: Jazz by the Lake. Thursday February 7, 2013. Noon to 1:00pm. Diverse trio with Hermon Mehari, Ben Leifer, Brad Williams. KCKCC Conference Center by the Lake. Free and Free food. In a living room atmosphere, a very intimate space. The most Diverse audience in Kansas City. (unintentional pun).  All ages and all stages and beyond.

*From the Kansas City Symphony: KC's very own Bobby Watson continues the fine traditions of Charlie Parker and Count Basie, performing jazz standards with a special twist. For this show, Watson is joined by 20 of the best jazz musicians in the Midwest, including David Basse, Rod Fleeman, Dan Thomas, Steve Malloy, Horace Washington, Roger Wilder and others.  Get ready to jam! February 15-16, Helzberg Hall.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sepian Bounce

A minor milestone in the evolution of Kansas City's jazz scene transpired on February 1.

Diverse played a hip-hop show at the RecordBar.  Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle performed jazz inspired by hip-hop during its record release party at the Blue Room.  Forward-thinking pianist Mark Lowrey and drummer Brad Williams entertained at the Green Lady Lounge.  The Jorge Arana Trio participated in a rock-oriented show at the Czar Bar.

Audiences were just as likely to hear covers of songs by J Dilla, Michael Jackson and Radiohead as material by Count Basie and Charlie Parker.  The younger musicians who participated in these shows aren't necessarily superior to their elder counterparts.  They merely have a different perspective than the jazz artists who worked elsewhere Friday night. 

These four events signal an unofficial changing of the guard.  I expect that The Kansas City Jazz Calendar will increasingly resemble nights like February 1.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Now's the Time: Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle

Keyboardist Eddie Moore doesn't attempt to conceal his admiration of Robert Glasper.  The Freedom of Expression, the new album by Moore and the Outer Circle, seems to split the difference between Glasper's 2007 album In My Element and last year's Black Radio.  Moore recently spoke to Joe Klopus about his nascent career. His band's album release show is Friday, February 1, at the Blue Room.