Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Matt Kane is featured on Joe Dimino's Neon Jazz.

*There's plenty of jazz content in The Pitch's survey of Kansas City's music scene.

*The Kansas City Business Journal reports on the city's ongoing investments in the Jazz District.

*Michael Shults performs on a new release by the Joe Duran Nonet.

*A critic characterizes Eldar Djangirov's Breakthrough album as "brilliant."

*The International Association of Jazz Record Collectors' convention will be held in Kansas City in September.

*Tweet o' the Week: Michael Shults- Every time I play with @StevenLambertKC I'm a weird mix of inspired and depressed afterwards. #sessionrat #persistence #diligence #hardwork

*Comment o' the Week: Nigel- Sure miss all the great dialogue we used to have on this blog.

*From Take Five Coffee: We've got a weekend of serious music therapy sure to get down inside you and correct what ails you… Both shows start at 8pm, and cost a mere $5 at the door. (As always, the whole door goes to the musicians.)  Friday night, it's the Chris Hazelton Trio. An emerging master of the B3, Hazelton brings Danny Embrey on guitar and Kevin Frazee on drums. The room will jump. Get in early so you have a place to land.  Saturday night the marvelous, mischievous and magical Miss Megan Birdsall will sing jazz as only she can. And what a group she's got behind her: TJ Martley on piano, Danny Embrey on guitar, Bob Bowman on bass and Tim Cambron on drums.

*From a press release: Spirituality & All That Jazz.  7:00 p.m.  Unity Temple on the Plaza.  Tickets at the door only - $7.00.  Wednesday, August 7, 2013.  Kansas City’s Own Rich Hill, Pianist & Vocalist performing with Tim Whitmer & The Consort Band.  Rich Hill, jazz keyboardist/vocalist/trombonist… studied classical piano with John McIntyre and Jazz with George Salisbury and John Elliott. He’s accompanied major Jazz and Blues artists such as Slide Hampton, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, and Albert Collins, and opened concerts for Frank Zappa, Ray Charles, and Harry Connick, Jr.  Rich maintains an active schedule performing in Kansas City Jazz venues.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Funkin' for the Thrill: An Initial Look at the 18th and Vine Jazz and Blues Festival

In the immortal words of James Brown, the 18th and Vine Jazz and Blues Festival promises to be "a funky good time."  The five headliners for the October 12 event were revealed last week.  George Duke and Con Funk Shun, the two top-billed artists, are longtime funkateers. 

Duke is best known for funk and disco classics like "Dukey Stick", "Reach For It" and "Funkin' for the Thrill".  His new album DreamWeaver furthers his groove-oriented legacy. 

Duke competed with Con Funk Shun for positioning on the R&B charts in the 1970s.   Con Funk Shun's classics include "Ffun" and "Chase Me".

In spite of memorable singles from the 1960s and 1970s including "He Made a Woman Out of Me", Bettye LaVette never achieved mainstream success.  The soul survivor's frequent performances in Kansas City attest to her enduring power.  The presence of Kelley Hunt, a fixture of the rock and blues scenes in Kansas City and Lawrence, will compliment LaVette.

Wait a minute.  Where's the jazz?  The fifth headliner is a nebulous "Art Blakey Tribute Band."  I hope that it's the grouping of Reggie Workman, Donald Harrison, Brian Lynch, Billy Pierce, Donald Brown and Ralph Peterson.  That band performs the previous night at Yoshi's in San Francisco.

The Kansas City Star reported on last week's press conference at the American Jazz Museum.  KC Jazz Lark offers his analysis of the lineup here.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Now's the Time: Tim Whitmer's July Jazz Jam

Tim Whitmer's annual July Jazz Jam is Sunday, July 28, at Community Christian Church.  While the personnel will differ slightly from the musicians featured in the embedded video, the celebratory atmosphere will be much the same.  Joe Klopus has the details in his latest column.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*KCPT offers an eight-minute feature focused on the American Jazz Museum.

*The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra's 2013-14 season has been announced.

*The Pitch reports that the Broadway Jazz Club will open this fall.

*KC Jazz Lark explains how the lineup for the forthcoming Prairie Village Jazz Festival was assembled.

*The goal of a Kickstarter campaign for a musical about Myra Taylor is $14,000.

*Steve Lambert is the latest musician to be interviewed by Joe Dimino for Neon Jazz.

*The Green Lady Lounge has a Tumblr account.

*Here's an early review of Chuck Haddix's Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker.

*The Pitch reminds readers that Lonnie McFadden appears every Friday at the Phoenix.

*The gist of a press release issued by the American Jazz Museum: "A portion of the proceeds" of the 2014 Jazz Cruise "will support The American Jazz Museum."

*Tweet o' the Week: kcjazzlark- No empty seats at Take Five for Andy McGhie, sax, Hermon Mehari, trumpet, Peter Schlamb, vibes, Karl McComas-Reichl, bass, Ryan Lee, drums

*Comment o' the Week: tjjazzpiano- Awesome line up at the PV festival. It's nice to see a great mix of local and national talent.

*From a press release: Few artists could record two albums over the course of one week in different musical genres, with disparate personnel, and at separate studios. Yet New York City-based pianist Eldar Djangirov has done just that, and proven himself musically ambidextrous as evidenced by two remarkable, self-produced recordings for his debut on the maverick, multi-Grammy nominated Motéma Music this April and May.  Eldar's Breakthrough, recorded at Avatar Studios in New York City, releases April 9. Like the 26-year-old's 2009 disc Virtue, it features his long-standing touring trio with bassist Armando Gola and drummer Ludwig Afonso. Breakthrough breaks through to reinforce just how powerful and poignant a road tested jazz trio of young lions can be…  Bach/Brahms/Prokofiev, recorded solo at Manhattan Center Studios and available May 14, marks the pianist's second solo release, and his debut album in the classical genre.

*From a press release: Alaadeen Enterprises Inc. (AEI) Jazz Education Re-Launch, 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, (the late and world renowned Alaadeen’s 79th birthday), under a tent next to the Charlie Parker Memorial at 18th and Vine.  This FREE event will have performances + a jam session (7 p.m.) + Najee, Kevin Mahogany & Matt Kane Skyping.  Others: Luqman Hamza, Bobby Watson, Dennis Winslett, Harold O’Neal, youth & many more esteemed musicians + Mayor Sly James + a Who’s Who of the cultural arts community.  Hot tunes & cool tents for shade!  Announcing major educational initiatives for music students.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Suit & Tie Stuff

"Suit & Tie" is one of the most distinctive pop hits of 2013.  It's not surprising that hundreds of musicians and DJs have remixed and rearranged Justin Timberlake's horn-laden song.  One of my favorite treatments is by Chris Hazelton's Boogaloo 7.  It's the third-track of a free three-song Demo EP at Bandcamp.  The sound quality of Hazelton's recording may lack the polished sheen of Timberlake's hit, but the soulful song lends itself to Hazelton's vintage treatment.  It's the best type of jazz outreach.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Now's the Time: Mark Lowrey

Kansas Citians are blessed with recurring opportunities to chatter during dazzling performances by Mark Lowrey. Lowrey, bassist Gerald Spaits and drummer Matt Leifer interpret "Moanin'" at the Green Lady Lounge in the embedded video. Lowrey returns to the Green Lady Lounge on Friday, July 19. Lowrey performs a matinee show with Lonnie McFadden at the Phoenix every Friday. He appears at the Majestic every Sunday and Monday. Plastic Sax's 2010 Person of the Year released Tangos For 18th Street, one of 2013's most compelling albums, in January.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

My occasional public spats with KC Jazz Lark in no way diminish my ongoing admiration of the man.  For one thing, he clearly knows how to book a world-class jazz festival.  The lineup of The Prairie Village Jazz Festival is extraordinary.  The free event is Saturday, September 7, at Harmon Park.  Here are the details, along with one Plastic Sax annotation for each performance:

Bobby Watson All-Star Big Band with Special Guest Jon Faddis 9:00-10:30 p.m.
Bobby Watson, alto saxophone, Jon Faddis, trumpet, plus a big band
(Watson is Plastic Sax's Person of the Decade.)

Marilyn Maye 7:40-8:40 p.m.
Marilyn Maye, vocals, Tedd Firth, piano, Gerald Spaits, bass, Jim Eklof, drums
(Plastic Sax documented an appearance by Maye at the Gem Theater in 2010.) 

Everett DeVan – Chris Hazelton Quartet 6:30-7:20 p.m.
Everett DeVan and Chris Hazelton, Hammond B3 Organs, Matt Hopper, guitar, Danny Rojas, drums
(Plastic Sax reviewed a performance by Hazelton last year.)

Mutual Musicians Foundation All-Stars 5:20-6:10 p.m.
Steve Lambert, tenor saxophone, Mike Herrera, alto saxophone, Peter Schlamb, vibraphone, Chris Clarke, piano, Dominique Sanders, bass, Brad Williams, drums
(Plastic Sax reviewed a performance by Lambert in 2011.)

Parallax 4:10-5:00 p.m.
Stan Kessler, trumpet, Roger Wilder, piano, Bill McKemy, bass, Ryan Lee and Brian Steever, drums
(The most recent Plastic Sax review of a Parallax performance was published in January.) 

Andy McGhie Quintet 3:00-3:50 p.m.
Andy McGhie, saxophone, Hermon Mehari, trumpet, Andrew Ouelette, piano, Karl McComas-Reichl, bass, Ryan Lee, drums
(Mehari was Plastic Sax's Person of the Year in 2009.) 

The nominees for the Pitch Music Awards in the category of "Jazz Ensemble" are Alaturka, Diverse, KC Sound Collective, Parallax, People's Liberation Big Band and Shades of Jade.  The "Jazz Solo" nominees are Brandon Draper, Eddie Moore, Hermon Mehari, Jeff Harshbarger and Mark Lowrey.

KCJazzLark takes a dig at Plastic Sax as he lauds the current big band renaissance in Kansas City.

Joe Dimino interviews Brian Steever for Neon Jazz.

Joe Klopus chats with Kent Rausch of Vine Street Rumble.

T.J.Martley's excellent improvisation lesson series continues.

The Kansas City Star offers a review of last week's Francois Rabbath concert.

The Pitch recommends a gig by the Andy McGhie Ensemble.

"A Night At The American Jazz Museum" resembles an 80-second sprint through the facility.  (Tip via Tony's Kansas City.).

Steve Cardenas performs on the new album by the Steve Swallow Quintet.

Tweet o' the Week: Julian Vaughn- OJ Simpson payback!

From Take Five Coffee + Bar: Friday evening saxophonist Andy McGhie is bringing a select group of Kansas City's young powerhouse players: Hermon Mehari on trumpet, Peter Schlamb on vibraphone, Karl McComas-Reichl on bass and Ryan Lee on drums. (Someday, when fantasy jazz leagues replace sports betting, this will be recognized as a dream team with future All-Stars at every position.)  Saturday evening it's Mardi Gras in July with drummer Arny Young's Necessity Brass Band bringing the second-line funk. Jack Blackett on sax, Nick Howell on trumpet, Pat Conway on sax and percussion and Bill McKemy on sousaphone. There may be marching, probably Hurricanes, definitely beads.  Join us, bring friends, tell the world. Cover is $5, shows start at 8.

From a press release: Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker artfully weaves together firsthand accounts from those who knew him with new information about his life and career to create a compelling narrative portrait of a tragic genius.

While other books about Parker have focused primarily on his music and recordings, this portrait reveals the troubled man behind the music, illustrating how his addictions and struggles with mental health affected his life and career.  He was alternatively generous and miserly; a loving husband and father at home but an incorrigible philanderer on the road; and a chronic addict who lectured younger musicians about the dangers of drugs.  Above all he was a musician, who overcame humiliation, disappointment, and a life-threatening car wreck to take wing as Bird, a brilliant improviser and composer.

With in-depth research into previously overlooked sources and illustrated with several never-before-seen images,
Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker corrects much of the misinformation and myth about one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Logan's Run

Logan Richardson played on the same same stage as José James and the Robert Glasper Experience featuring Lionel Loueke at the North Sea Jazz Festival on Sunday, July 14. 

Even with notables including Kendrick Lamar, Ron Carter and Sting appearing at the festival on the same day, Richardson's stage is where the coolest cats (at least the ones who opted not to catch Hermeto Pascoal) congregated.  The Kansas City native was in the Netherlands as a member of the Next Collective, the all-star band that features Richardson's fellow young jazz stars including Gerald Clayton and Ben Williams. 

As the gorgeous embedded footage of a band led by occasional Kansas City visitor Tony Tixier reflects, Richardson can hold his own in such rarefied company.  Kansas City's Ryan Lee is behind the drums.  The Paris-based Richardson explains and demonstrates his musical philosophy in this excellent video.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Now's the Time: Todd Strait

When Jardine's was still one of Kansas City's central jazz hubs, the periodic homecomings of Todd Strait represented one of the venue's most prestigious bookings.  Before the drummer moved to Portland, he was beloved by old-guard traditionalists and more progressive listeners.  He's even more appealing now.  Strait's tasteful playing in the embedded Eldar Djangirov video from 2006 begins at the 2:00 mark.  Jazz fans of every stripe will likely attend Strait's performance at Take Five Coffee + Bar on Friday, July 12.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Guitarist Brian Baggett is the latest area jazz musician to be interviewed by Joe Dimino on Neon Jazz.

*Vine Street Rumble made a television appearance.

*The Kansas City Star reports on a possible new museum dedicated to Negro league baseball in Birmingham, Alabama.  The institution would ostensibly compete for funding and artifacts with Kansas City's Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.  The adjoining American Jazz Museum already faces competition from entities including The Jazz Museum in Harlem.

*The author of a letter recalls an encounter with the late John Elliott.

*The Pitch plugs a performance by the Bram Wijnands Swingtet.

*Jazz pianist Paul Smith has died.  Thankfully for the regional jazz scene, the Kansas City jazz pianist Paul Smith is still very much alive.

*Tweet o' the Week: Brian Scarborough- Standing room only at The Record Bar tonight for People's Liberation Big Band. Great music, great crowd, great band. #kcjazz #fivemoreyears

*Comment o' the Week: Anonymous- I could care less what Stanley Crouch has to say about Charlie Parker. I'm way more interested to read the new Parker bio coming out by Kansas City's own Chuck Haddix!

*Via Anita Dixon regarding The Foundation Big Band: Come hear a fresh new big band in Kansas City's original home for jazz: The Mutual Musician's Foundation.  The band, comprised of KC-area musicians, will perform original works as well as staples of the big band repertoire, including tunes from the Count Basie Orchestra - the lead purveyors of the KC big band sound.  $5 cover goes to the musicians. Come be a part of a new thang in a historic place. (Wednesday, July 10, 7:30 p.m.)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Grading the 2013-14 Folly and Gem Seasons

While waiting in line outside the men's room during the intermission of Eliane Elias' concert at the Folly Theater three months ago, I overheard two older gentlemen discussing the announcement for the bookings that had just been made for the forthcoming season. 

"Mehldau?  Parlato?  Never heard of 'em," the first fellow said.  "I wish they'd book the good ones."

"Who are they supposed to get?" the second man said.   "All the good ones are dead."

Jazz presenters don't have it easy.  Joe Klopus analyzed the latest efforts of the staffs of the Folly Theater and the American Jazz Museum for The Kansas City Star last week.  My take follows.

Poncho Sanchez featuring James Carter
Gem Theater, September 6
Poncho Sanchez doesn't perform in Kansas City every year.  It just seems that way.  Yet September's appearance will be different.  The presence of the aggressive saxophonist James Carter adds another excellent showman to the high-energy bill.
Grade: B

Gretchen Parlato Quartet
Folly Theater, October 5 
Gretchen Parlato has become a star in the jazz world since she performed as a sideman in the band of David Binney at the Folly Theater in 2009.  She's an intriguing, forward-thinking talent.
Grade: B+

Kenny Barron Trio
Folly Theater, November 22
Kenny Barron, 70, is an impeccably sophisticated pianist.
Grade: B

Jonathan Batiste & Stay Human
Folly Theater, January 17
Look out, Wynton Marsalis- another handsome neo-conservative jazz musician from a prominent New Orleans family is hot on your heels.  I've yet to see the young pianist Jonathan Batiste.  My relatively low grade could be erroneous.
Grade: B-

Gem Theater, February 15
It's hard to argue with success.  Smooth jazz saxophonist Najee will almost certainly fill the 500-seat theater. 
Grade: B

Tierney Sutton Band
Folly Theater, March 7
An old-fashioned jazz singer, Tierney Sutton appeals to traditionalists. 
Grade: B-

Newport 60th Anniversary Tour
Gem Theater, March 22
I have a bias against jerry-rigged all-star ensembles.  There's really no reason a "60th anniversary tour" of the Newport Jazz Festival should exist.  Yet the lineup of clarinetist Anat Cohen, vocalist and pianist Karrin Allyson, trumpeter Randy Brecker, bassist Larry Grenadier guitarist Mark Whitfield, pianist Peter Martin and drummer Clarence Penn is truly exceptional.
Grade: A

Brad Mehldau Trio
Folly Theater, April 19
Pianist and composer Brad Mehldau is arguably the most important jazz-based artist under the age of 50. 
Grade: A

Curtis Fuller
Gem Theater, April 19
Curtis Fuller recorded two albums as a leader for Blue Note Records in 1957.  That small portion of his extensive discography alone merits a "Lifetime Achievement Concert."  An all-star band that includes Nathan Davis, George Cables, Abraham Laboriel, and Winard Harper makes the booking even sweeter.
Grade: B+

John Scofield Organic Trio
Folly Theater, May 10th
Überjam Deux, the title of John Scofield's latest album, serves as a reminder that the guitarist appeals to the jam band crowd.  People who follow Umphrey's McGee and occasional Scofield collaborators Medeski Martin and Wood will flock to 12th Street to hear the influential improvisor.
Grade: B+

Massey Hall 50th Anniversary
Gem Theater, May 17
Something's missing.  The American Jazz Museum notes that the concert will feature "Bill Charlap and his trio of Kenny Washington and Peter Washington performing with special guest Jon Faddis in celebration of the historic Massey Hall Concert."  The roles of Dizzy Gillespie (Faddis), Bud Powell (Charlap), Charles Mingus (P. Washington) and Max Roach (K. Washington) are ably covered.  But who's going to play Charlie Parker? 
Grade: B

I conducted similar exercises for the 2012-13 seasons here, the 2011-12 seasons here and here, the 2010-11 seasons here and here, for 2009-10 here and for 2008-09 here and here.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Now's the Time: François Rabbath

The legendary Paris-based bassist François Rabbath will perform Thursday, July 11, as part of the Kansas City Bass Workshop.  Rabbath has influenced thousands of musicians.  The albums Avant Garde Jazz Essentials and Bass Ball provide a sense of his range.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Chris Robinson praises albums by Alaturka, Matt Otto, Eddie Moore, Chris Hazelton, T.J. Martley, Roger Wilder and Clint Ashlock in the August issue of Downbeat magazine.

*A cursory scan of the 2013 Downbeat’s Critics Awards revealed the following Kansas City-related winners: Pat Metheny- 2nd place, Guitarist; Bobby Watson- 16th place, Alto Saxophone; Pat Metheny- 15th place, Album (Unity Band); Karrin Allyson- 1st place, Rising Star, Female Vocalist.

*Three songs from Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7- including a cover of “Suit & Tie”- are available at Bandcamp.

*KC Jazz Lark documents last weekend’s trumpet summit of Hermon Mehari, Stan Kessler and Mike Metheny at the Blue Room.

*John Elliott, a beloved instructor of many Kansas City musicians, has died.

*Black House Collective will host a "2 month long new music festival called Black Lab".

*The Pitch offers a lengthy feature on the “sophisticated dissonance” of the People’s Liberation Big Band in advance of the ensemble’s performance Sunday at the RecordBar.

*Stanley Crouch discusses his forthcoming book about Charlie Parker.  (Via Tony’s Kansas City.)

*Here’s a video preview of Harold O’Neal’s Man On the Street album.

*Ahmad Alaadeen, Matt Kane and Pat Metheny were among the artists discussed in a roundup of the The Best Kansas City Music of 2013 (So Far) on KCUR’s Up To Date.

*St. Louis Jazz Notes reports that Marilyn Maye will play an integral role at the 2013 St. Louis Cabaret Festival.

*Bobby Watson is a guest on Intuition, the new album by the Czech-based Libor Šmoldas Quartet.

*Pat Metheny accompanies Buika on ”No lo sé”, a track on the Spanish vocalist’s new album.

*Here’s the latest edition of 12th Street Jump’s ”Blues In the News”.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Ben Leifer- Deborah Brown is the baddest! Thank you for your wonderful spirit! #kcjazz #swinghard #jazztradition @GreenLadyLounge

*Comment o’ the Week: Sam- YES!  I'm not sure J.C. Deagan could've imagined this when he was making Xylophones in the '20's.

*Here’s a flyer touting the July Jazz Jam at Community Christian Church.

*From a press release (note change of venue from a previously published notice): Alaadeen Enterprises (AEI), the non-profit education organization founded in 1995 by the late Ahmad Alaadeen – jazz musician and educator – plans to re-launch its jazz educational initiative on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 (his 79th birthday) at the Jazz District Patio Terrace, next to the Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker Memorial, on 18th & Paseo.

*The Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated for July.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)