Friday, January 31, 2014

Now's the Time: Josh Quinlan

The Denver-based saxophonist Josh Quinlan will perform at Take Five Coffee + Bar on Saturday, February 1, and at the RecordBar on Sunday, February 2.  His 2013 album Open Space is an impressive outing that should please fans of Kansas City-based saxophonists such as Bobby Watson and Michael Shults.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*KC Jazz Lark was the victim of an attempted mugging outside a jazz club.

*There was a shooting last Saturday night in the Jazz District.  (Tip via Tony's Kansas City.)

*Joe Dimino interviewed Ken Lovern for Neon Jazz.

*The Pitch plugs a performance featuring Megan Birdsall.

*An early review of the Pat Metheny Unity Group's Kin suggests that "for those who've missed the epic compositional work of Pat Metheny Group, this will be the closest they're likely to get…"

*Tweet o' the Week: Stacy- Jazz & seafood = Nice little Saturday evening! #gaslightgrill (photo)

*From a press release: Johnson County Community College has announced the performance schedule for the spring 2014 Jazz Series. The series, which brings to the stage some of Kansas City’s premiere jazz musicians, is now in its 25th year.  The recitals take place at noon Tuesday for six consecutive weeks, Feb. 25 to April 1. All performances, which are free and open to the public, are held in the Recital Hall of the Carlsen Center unless otherwise noted. Here is the lineup: Feb. 25 Mark Lowrey, March 4 Bill Crain Group, March 11 Lori Tucker Ensemble, March 18 Al Pearson Quartet,*Polsky Theatre, March 25 PBT featuring Rod Fleeman, April 1 Ron Carlson Group.

*From a press release: The University of Kansas Wind Ensemble, conducted by Paul W. Popiel, Director of Bands, and Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Dan Gailey, Director of Jazz Studies, will present a shared concert at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1 at the Lied Center of Kansas.  The evening will begin with a special performance by KU Saxophone Quartet I, Vince Gnojek, director, of Tim Davies’ Krunch...  Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for children, seniors and students.

*From a press release: MusiCares, in collaboration with the Folk Alliance Conference and Smiles Programs, The Mobile Dentists, will host a free dental clinic for music professionals.  (To qualify, participants must document at least five years of professional music career history.)  Eligible individuals will receive a complete dental exam, bitewing X-rays and a dental cleaning.  Please call MusiCares at 1.877.303.6962 to determine eligibility and request application materials.

*From Jim Mair: Details about The Kansas City Kansas Community College/Kansas City Jazz Orchestra Jazz Camp in June are here.

*From Mark Lowrey: I've been on a month long artist residency…  I return early next week.  And have a few fun things coming up… I'm starting a new band with Singers Dionne Jeroue and Eboni Fondren with drummer Ryan Lee and bassist Karl McComas-Riechl.  It's an r&b/soul/jazz project.  All the songs are about love and sex.  Re-invented covers from Fiona Apple, Esperanza Spalding, Donnie Hathaway, John Legend. etc… Official first show is at the Broadway Jazz Club March 22… Continuing regular weeklys: Sunday and Monday at the Majestic Restaurant: Mark Lowrey Trio 6-10pm; Wednesday (background) solo piano at Cafe Trio 6-9pm; Friday 4:30-8:30pm at the Phoenix with the Lonnie McFadden Trio; Friday later: Mark Lowrey Trio 9pm-12am at the Green Lady Lounge.   

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Concert Review: Terri Lyne Carrington at Jazz Winterlude

Terri Lyne Carrington and Gerald Clayton competed against each other in the category of "Best Jazz Instrumental Album" at Sunday's Grammy Awards.  Carrington's Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue beat out four other albums including Clayton's Life Forum.  In her acceptance speech, Carrington noted that she's the first woman to receive a Grammy in the category.

That's why the initial 15 minutes of Friday's concert at the Jazz Winterlude festival was so frustrating.  Rather than attempting to replicate Money Jungle's sonically daring arrangements, the all-star band led by Carrington merely jammed.  Hearing a band featuring two of the most illustrious jazz musicians under the age of 50 doing little more than coasting was infuriating.

The audience of about 325 eventually heard the band coalesce.  The performance became increasingly interesting, culminating in a stellar rendition of "Rem Blues/Music" that featured Tia Fuller's evocative recitation of Duke Ellington's poem.  Clayton's "Shut Off"- a theme based on Ellington's "Solitude"- was stunning.  He and Carrington went on to ride a mesmerizing riff for over two exuberant minutes. 

Inspired partly by the frolicsome bassist Zach Brown, Carrington's phenomenal drumming was suffused with joy.  While she had great ideas, saxophonist Fuller had a shockingly tiny tone.  Guitarist Nir Felder chose to play with a similarly small sound.  These drawbacks, along with the sluggish start, ultimately made the good-but-not-great concert less than the sum of its considerable parts. 

Libby Hanssen reviewed Arturo Sandoval's performance at Jazz Winterlude on Saturday.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Now's the Time: Terri Lyne Carrington

The presence of the highly accomplished drummer and wildly imaginative bandleader Terri Lyne Carrington represents just just half of the appeal of her gig at Polsky Theatre on Friday, January 24.  She's bringing an all-star band with her. 

Saxophonist Tia Fuller is best known as Beyoncé's musical wing woman.  Guitarist Nir Felder is a rising star on New York's jazz scene.  His debut album Golden Age was released Tuesday by Okeh/Sony.  Gerald Clayton is one of jazz's most notable young pianists.  Bassist Zach Brown rounds out the band.

An ensemble led by Doug Talley will open Friday's show with a tribute to Wayne Shorter.  Alas, the audience almost certainly won't hear Talley perform anything like the contemporary Shorter seen in the embedded video. 

Carrington is appearing as part of the annual Jazz Winterlude festival.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*KC Jazz Lark reports that prominent jazz scholar Stanley Crouch will appear with Chuck Haddix in June as part of a "Kansas City Jazz Blogger Summit."

*Joe Klopus previews this weekend's Jazz Winterlude festival.  The Pitch also recommends the two-day event.

*Tickets for a "Smooth Grooves at The Gem" series featuring Peter White, Keiko Matsui, Jeff Lorber and Alex Bugnon recently went on sale at Ticketmaster.

*Crosscurrent has posted three interesting notices about its January 23 gig at the Blue Room at its site.

*A critic suggests that Bobby Watson's recent appearance in Nebraska was "pure joy."

*Chuck Berg reviewed a Topeka Jazz Workshop concert by Joe Cartwright.

*Magic 201, a posthumous release by Frank Wess, will be issueed next month.

*Kansas-born Lisa Engelken's latest album received a positive review in Jazz Times.

*Here's another edition of 12th Street Jump's "Blues In the News."

*Comment o' the Week: Dominique- It was just something that we did one night. Special occasion.

*Tweet o' the Week: Shades of Jade- Shout out to everyone that came through at Green Lady last night! Your energy fueled the band tremendously!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, January 20, 2014


In a blog post explicating his picks for the 8th Annual Jazz Critics Poll: 2013, the locally-based jazz critic Chris Robinson suggested that "with something like 700 albums receiving votes, I can say with some confidence that there are way too many albums being recorded.  There’s a lot of quality, but the small jazz market, I feel, may be dangerously flooded with music that nobody will ever hear – quality or not."

While my heart insists that Robinson is wrong, the numbers indicate otherwise.  A detailed examination of new data leads to a difficult question: How can Kansas City-based jazz artists vie for international attention amid the ongoing marginalization of the music?

Robinson points out that his ballot contained the sole vote cast for Alaturka's Yalniz (#309) in the poll of over 100 jazz critics.  Only a handful of additional albums with Kansas City connections received any form of acknowledgement.  A listing: Frank Wess' Magic 101 (#22), Pat Metheny's Tap: John Zorn's Book of Angels, Vol. 20 (#30), Lester Young's Boston 1950 (#140) and Harold O'Neal's Man On the Street (#453.)

The lack of consensus is startling.  Less than half the participants included the highest-ranked album- Wayne Shorter's Without a Net- in their top ten.  Prominent releases of local interest including Pat Metheny's The Orchestrion Project, Eldar Djangarov's Breakthrough, the Next Collective's Cover Art (featuring Logan Richardson) and Bobby Watson's Check Cashing Day weren't recognized at all.  That leaves little hope for self-released titles by the likes of Mark Lowrey, Paul Shinn and Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle.

Besides, it's safe to say that only a few dozen of the albums receiving votes sold over 1,000 units.  The Music Timeline published by Google last week makes the situation seem even more hopeless.  The overwhelming majority of jazz that's heard by Google Play users was recorded in the 1950s.  Not even the inclusion of pop-based artists like Michael Bublé, Kenny G and Norah Jones in the jazz category prevents the genre from flatlining after 1965.  The The Village Voice's 41st Pazz & Jop Music Critics Poll- a historically jazz-friendly forum- verified the trend.  The highest-ranked jazz album for 2013 comes in at #76.

Given that environment, it seems unlikely that Kansas City can reassert itself as a vital cradle of jazz in the new millennium.  But why not?  There's a lot of great music being made in Kansas City.  As Robinson notes of Alaturka's latest release, "(h)ad the album been on ECM or a similarly large (label) with promotion and distribution muscle, I bet it would have cleaned up."

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Now's the Time: Jon Batiste and Stay Human

If Jon Batiste and Stay Human are half as fun at the Folly Theater on Friday, January 17, as they are in the embedded video, the audience is in for a great time.  Joe Klopus interviewed Batiste for his preview of the concert. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Champian Fulton pays tribute to Jay McShann in an appealing blog post.

*Here's another promotional video for the forthcoming album by the Pat Metheny Unity Group.

*KC Jazz Lark documents another night at Broadway Jazz Club.

*Chick Corea and Bela Fleck will perform at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre on April 6.

*The Pitch recommends a gig by the Foundation 627 Big Band at the Green Lady Lounge.

*Lisa Henry is working with the likes of Ambrose Akinmusire.

*Charles Ferruzza reports that Beena Brandsgard is booking jazz acts at Carma in Leawood.  (Via Tony's Kansas City.)

*Scott Wilson of The Pitch spoke to author Chuck Haddix about his biography of Charlie Parker.

*Comment o' the Week: Cb- I agree, HIB. The video work is top-shelf ...  Is this SOP for the venue or was that done special by this group in order to produce the video, etc.?  I also like the aesthetic of the multi-cameras and the announcer bringing focus to the music, treating the gig like "an event of musical importance".  Every venue in KC could learn from this approach.

*Tweet o' the Week: Michael Mackie- Hey @officialkennyg! Hear you're coming to KC! Please come play w/ us on our show, @KCLiveTV. We'd love to dish & have you perform.

*From a press release: The incomparable Joe Cartwright, Piano Virtuoso and Tim Whitmer & The Consort Band.  Pianist Joe Cartwright has lived, performed and taught in the Kansas City area for the last thirty years.  He is a graduate of the UMKC Conservatory of Music and is currently the musical director for the critically acclaimed NPR radio show 12th Street Jump…  Spirituality & All That Jazz.  First Wednesday of every month.  Wednesday, February 5.  7:00 p.m.  Unity Temple on the Plaza/ Tickets at the door only - $7.00 - Children under 16 free.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Album Review: Dojo- Road Trip

I don't subscribe to the notion of guilty pleasures.  I freely admit my affection for scads of unfashionable music, ranging from the lewd hip-hop of Tech N9ne to the prog-rock of 1970s-era Genesis. 

Perhaps no style of music is more out of favor than jazz fusion.  Jazz purists detest it while most of the rock audience pretends the form doesn't exist.  Road Trip, the new album by Dojo, is destined to be ignored by most mainstream outlets.  It's a shame.  Road Trip deserves an audience beyond the habitués of guitar shops.

The ensemble led by the Lawrence-based guitarist Brian Baggett has crafted an album that's both technically masterful and eminently enjoyable. 

While rooted in the era in which fusion giants like Allan Holdsworth and Billy Cobham ruled the earth, Road Trip isn't defined by nostalgia.  The influence of metal-oriented bands like Dream Theater and a trace of Metallica-style thrash can be detected in several selections while "In Times Like These" contains electronic bleeps and blurts.

Baggett's work is complimented by a pleasing variety of moods and textures.  Rather than sounding like a series of long guitar solos, each track on the album possesses a unique disposition.  Baggett's solos, while unrepentantly ostentatious, rarely impede the forward momentum of the melodies.  Bassists Chris Handley and Jeff Harshbarger and drummer Luke Stone provide a solid foundation for Baggett's explorations.

Let the cool kids have their fun.  If appreciating Dojo's powerful jazz fusion is wrong, I don't want to be right.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Now's the Time: The Paul Shinn Trio

The production values of the embedded 57-minute video are outstanding.  The performance by pianist Paul Shinn, bassist Dominique Sanders and drummer Ryan Lee is similarly extraordinary.   Plastic Sax reviewed Reason Pure, the 2013 album by the Paul Shinn Trio, last August.  The ensemble's three-night residency at the Green Lady Lounge began on Thursday, January 9 and concludes on Saturday, January 11.  The trio appears at Take Five Coffee + Bar on Sunday, January 12.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The simple but effective music video for Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle's "Passing By" documents several Kansas City neighborhoods.

*KC Jazz Lark ponders an evening he enjoyed at Broadway Jazz Club.

*The Pitch highlights Deborah Brown's return to the Blue Room.

*Bob McWilliams of Kansas Public Radio published a list of his top five jazz albums of 2013.

*The good news: Lonnie Smith and Bilal are among the artists performing at a Charlie Parker Festival Showcase on Thursday, January 9.  The bad news: it's in New York City.

*Chris Burnett considers the impact of the internet and notes that Pandora isn't always speedy.

*Comment o' the Week: James- The new trend is to refer to everybody as "great human beings" and "great people". Thats nice and all but I've known some cats who passed away in the last several years who were referred to as "great people" and quite frankly from my multi decade association with them they were really anything but "great people". I liked these musicians and respected them and they had a lot of fans BUT they were not "great people". Some were actually jerks both in public or behind closed doors or both.  Its good to be positive but lets be real too.

*Tweet o' the Week: Katie Wernes- The two things Kansas City is famous for is jazz and barbecue. Both of which I don't like. #IShouldMove #ButILoveThisCity

*From a press release: Two internationally known artists and 10 local bands will perform when the fifth annual Jazz Winterlude festival takes place in January in the Carlsen Center at Johnson County Community College.  Percussionist Terri Lyne Carrington will be the headliner at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval will fill that role at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25. Tickets for Carrington's show will be $20; they will be $25 for Sandoval… The festival will get underway in the Carlsen Center on Friday morning with daylong clinics for area school bands. Students will learn from accomplished area musicians. Carrington will participate in two workshops – one with the jazz students and one for professional musicians… On Saturday, the film For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story will be shown at 10 a.m. in Carlsen Center, Room 211.  At 1 p.m., local bands will begin playing in the Carlsen Center's Polsky Theatre and Recital Hall. These performances will be free and open to the public.  From 1 to 1:50 p. m., Ron Gutierrez and Marimba Sol De Chiapas will perform; from 2 to 2:50 p.m., KC Sound and Juha's World Beat will play; from 3 to 3:50 p.m., the Chris Clarke Trio and the Guitarras Ibericas with guest Karim Memi will perform; from 4 to 4:50, Beach Nuts and Gamelan Genta Kasturi will play…

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Concert Review: Society Red at Take Five Coffee + Bar

If the goal of Society Red is to generate renewed interest in the music of Dexter Gordon, the band has already achieved a modicum of success.   I've listened to more Gordon in recent days than I have during all of the past decade. 

I caught Society Red's first set at Take Five Coffee + Bar on Friday, January 3. In addition to serving as a sort of coming out party for the band, the evening also marked the fourth anniversary of the Leawood venue.  A standing-room-only crowd was treated to a champagne toast and cake at the break.

True to the name of the ensemble, saxophonist Brett Jackson, trumpeter Ryan Thielman, keyboardist Chris Clarke, bassist Dominique Sanders and drummer John Kizilarmut focused on Gordon's music.

The format could have served as an excuse for a tedious blowing session, but Society Red paid tribute to Gordon with contagious enthusiasm.  The band plays feel-good music in the best sense of the phrase.

Jackson's impressive work on a ballad sounded remarkably like this.  Chris Clarke, one of the older guys in the band, serves as Society Red's wild card.  He seems less hung up on adhering to tradition than on infusing the group with bluesy sense of joy.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Now's the Time: Roger Wilder and Bob Bowman

Pianist Roger Wilder and bassist Bob Bowman will perform every Monday in January at the Green Lady Lounge. The embedded video documents the duo's rendition of "Softly As In a Morning Sunrise" at the venue earlier this week.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*KC Jazz Lark assesses the prospects of the Broadway Jazz Club.

*The seasonal song Mark Lowrey and Herman Mehari contributed to a Midwestern Music Foundation campaign was documented on video.

*Crosscurrent previews a January 23 date at the Blue Room.

*The Pitch highlights an upcoming performance by Brett Jackson at Take Five Coffee.

*A critic calls a selection on Bobby Watson's Check Cashing Day "endlessly fascinating" in a review of the album.

*Dean Minderman of St. Louis Jazz Notes published a handy "Best Jazz of 2013" compendium of lists.

*A television station reported on an odd incident at Take Five Coffee.

*Tweet o' the Week: Brian Baggett- @theprojecth I'm done calling clubs. I'm just going to practice and wait for them to call me and/or play sideman gigs. Focus on the music.

*The Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)