Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Norman Brown, the Elders, Vincent Ingala, Mindi Abair, Bobby Watson, Eldar Djangarov, Angela Hagenbach and Lauren Braton are the performers at this year's Jazz In the Woods festival.

*Writing about the ongoing divisiveness in the Kansas City's jazz community, KC Jazz Lark suggests that "(i)t’s time we get along with each other."

*Kansas City's most popular blogger asserts that the city's connection to jazz is "one of the most tiresome and overly exaggerated nonexistent local legacies."

*Bob James will appear in a taping of 12th Street Jump at Broadway Jazz Club on May 15.  Tickets are $15.

*The Pitch notes the reunion of Trio ALL.

*The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will perform at the Lied Center on Wednesday, September 24.

*St. Louis Jazz Notes assesses the Sheldon Concert Hall's
2014-15 season.

*Tweet o' the Week: ABC Jazz- We're celebrating @IntlJazzDay today @ABCJazz @herbiehancock @UNESCO #BirdLives #JazzDay (link)

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

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Concert Review: The Peter Schlamb Quartet at Take Five Coffee + Bar

I first heard Peter Schlamb perform during my initial visit to 1911 Restaurant and Lounge in 2011.  The absurdly chaotic atmosphere at the ill-fated venue didn't allow me to focus on the playing of the vibraphonist from St. Louis.  The subsequent Schlamb engagements I've attended also failed to make me understand why his peers in Kansas City held him in such high regard.

That changed Friday at Take Five Coffee + Bar as Schlamb led a quartet on the final date of his band's brief Midwestern tour.  Their first set was dazzling.

Schlamb's vibraphone shimmered with crystalline precision in the acoustically refined room.  His playing brimmed with interesting ideas and melodic surprises.  As one of his bandmates suggested at the break, Schlamb is "an elite musician."  I'm not prepared to suggest that Schlamb is the new Gary Burton or Bobby Hutcherson, but even circumspect admirers of the vibes legends would be impressed by Schlamb's work.

His inventiveness was matched by the correspondingly inspired efforts of trumpeter Hermon Mehari, bassist Karl McComas-Reichl and drummer John Kizilarmut.  Now that I'm finally converted to the righteousness of Schlamb's work, I hope to be present for the quartet's return to Take Five on Friday, May 30.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Now's the Time: The Count Basie Orchestra

It's absolutely shocking that The Count Basie Orchestra hasn't performed in the Kansas City area since a 2007 concert at the Folly Theater.  The embedded static shot filmed in Japan seven months ago provides insights into the current state of the ensemble.  The video was uploaded by the Kansas City-based Will Matthews, the current guitarist for the orchestra.  The big band will appear at Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College on Sunday, April 27.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The American Jazz Museum received a $15,000 grant to help fund the 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival.

*Nathan Davis made an appearance on a local television program prior to his concert on Saturday.  Joe Dimino of Neon Jazz also interviewed Davis.

*KCJazzLark ponders the attendance at concerts by The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra.

*Lee Hartman reviewed last weekend's concert by the Brad Mehldau Trio.

*Chris Botti and Marilyn Maye will perform at Yardley Hall in December as part of the Performing Arts Series of Johnson County Community College.

*The Pitch recommends a Jerry Hahn gig at Broadway Jazz Club.

*Tweet o' the Week: Steve Kraske- @bradmehldau trio absolutely sensational @THEFOLLYTHEATER Sat night. Some of the longest applause I've heard at KC jazz show.

*Comment o' the Week: Anonymous- You think the AJM and the Folly would avoid having high profile gigs on the same night. I mean, do these two organizations even talk to each other? Lame! I wish I could go to both shows, but I bought Folly tickets back in September so I'm locked in for Mehldau.  (See note below.)

*The Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated for the remainder of April.

*From a press release: Kansas City Kansas Community College will be playing host to students from middle school, high school and college this week during the 2014 Kansas City Jazz Summit.  The summit is 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 23 to 25 in the KCKCC Performing Arts Center, 7250 State Ave. The event is free and open to the public.  “The goal (of the Jazz Summit) is to attract jazz band, combos and choirs from across the United States and hopefully Canada, making Kansas City a destination location,” said Jim Mair, Professor of Music and Director of Instrumental Studies at KCKCC. “There will be great performances all three days, world class adjudication and on Thursday, there is the KC Heritage ‘Basically Basie’ competition with text voting - a first for jazz festivals.”… For complete schedules for all three days of the event, visit Kansas City Jazz Summit. 

*From a press release: Wednesday, May 7, 2014. The Stride Stylings of Bram Wijnands, Pianist, with Tim Whitmer & The Consort Band. Bram Wijnands began playing piano at an early age in Eindhoven, the Netherlands...  In July 1991, Bram made his debut on the KC Jazz scene at the City Light Jazz Club with Kansas City’s own Richard Ross... Tickets at the door only - $7.00.

*From a press release: Jammin' At the Gem May 17– Massey Hall 60th Anniversary | Bill Charlap and his trio of Kenny Washington and Peter Washington performing with special guests, virtuosi: Jon Faddis and Jesse Davis. The greatest jazz concert ever… Bill Charlap has connected Jazz Masters Jon Faddis and Jesse Davis with his Bill Charlap Trio for the 60th Silver Anniversary celebration of the concert at Massey Hall...

*An apology to Plastic Sax readers: Until this morning, none of the comments made at the site during the past two or three months were published.  The email notifications I'd previously received inexplicably ceased.  I'm sorry.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Concert Review: The Brad Mehldau Trio at The Folly Theater

Doubts began to creep into my mind in the days leading up to Saturday's concert at the Folly Theater.

The prospect of a performance by the trio of pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard appealed to me less than any number of Mehldau-related alternatives. 

Mehldau's new Mehliana collaboration with Mark Guiliana, his partnership with Pat Metheny or a larger format that included the likes of saxophonist Joshua Redman seemed preferable.  An outing by Ballard's heavyweight trio with Lionel Loueke and Miguel Zenón also sounded more promising. 

The small crowd seemed like an ill omen.  When a friend exclaimed "he's the man" of Mehldau before the concert began, I countered that "the man" should be able to sell more than 500 tickets.  The actual attendance probably exceeded 600, but even so, it's disappointing that one of the most celebrated and important musicians under the age of 50 can't fill a 1,000-seat venue at a rare appearance in Kansas City.

My reservations dissolved when the trio tore into "Spirals" to open the concert.  The trio's stunning interplay and progressive outlook immediately exposed the limitations of the vast majority of its peers.  The sheer audacity displayed at Saturday's performance makes Mehldau's group the most remarkable piano trio I've witnessed since Vijay Iyer led a band in the same venue in 2012.

It wasn't perfect.  The performance occasionally threatened to become too dry.  At these frustrating junctures, the sultry cooing of the French-speaking couple seated nearby redirected me to the earthy aspects of the music temporarily obscured by the trio's dense theory.  Even so, the concert possessed few cathartic moments, and at just over 90 minutes, Mehldau's outing was peculiarly terse.  

Libby Hanssen reviewed the concert for The Kansas City Star.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Now's the Time: Nathan Davis

For many locally-based jazz fans, choosing between Saturday's two high-profile concerts will be easy.  The new-school crowd will elect to take in the performance by the Brad Mehldau Trio at the Folly Theater.  The lionized pianist is a media darling.  Hometown boosters and old-school swing aficionados will head to the Gem Theater.  The event is billed as a Lifetime Achievement Award concert for Nathan Davis, a native of Kansas City, Kansas.  Largely unknown in the United States in spite of a stint with Eric Dolphy, Davis will be joined by trombone legend Curtis Fuller, piano great George Cables, bassist Abraham Laboriel and drummer Winard Harper.  Cables and Laboriel appear with Davis in the embedded video.  Joe Klopus previewed the two concerts for The Kansas City Star.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joe Klopus crafted an invaluable summary of Nathan Davis' career.  The native of Kansas City, Kansas, performs at the Gem Theater on Saturday.

*A celebration of the life of Dionne Jeroue was documented by KCJazzLark.

*Bobby Watson discusses Horizon with a Pennsylvania-based journalist.  The publication gave the band's concert a rave review.

*Black House shares a blooper reel.

*The Pitch advises readers of the Sons' of Brasil's regular gigs at Broadway Jazz Club.

*The Jazz Journalists Association named Jon Poses of Columbia, Missouri, a "jazz hero".

*Tweet o' the Week: Brian Baggett- I like metronomes. Good times!

*From a press release: Kansas City based group Diverse is preparing to release their second album in early May. “Our Journey” is a project of all original jazz music that was recorded in Paris, France, and features the core members Hermon Mehari on trumpet, Ryan Lee on drums, and Ben Leifer on the bass. Parisian pianist Tony Tixier augments the ensemble throughout and special guest alto saxophonist Logan Richardson plays on a few numbers. Diverse will celebrate the release of this album at the Blue Room in Kansas City on May 9th… It will feature the core members and pianist Tony Tixier who will be flown in from Paris. Start time is 8:30 PM with a $10 admission.

*I've been surprised and delighted to receive a few complaints regarding my failure to update the Kansas City Jazz Calendar.  I apologize.  I hope to fulfill my obligations soon.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ziggy Played Drums

I found the perfect vantage point for a performance featuring the aggressive saxophonist Rob Scheps

As I sat in a low-slung booth shielded by a glass partition at Lucky Brewgrille last Friday, I could only see the band of Scheps, guitarist Ron Carlson, bassist Bill McKemy and drummer Eliot Zigmund if I propped myself up against the back of my seat. 

I felt secure knowing that Scheps couldn't give me the business. 

Hearing the band wasn't a problem.  Their output was so loud that my waitress cupped her hands around her mouth and yelled when she first came to my table. 

The extreme volume was instigated by Zigmund.  I expected the drummer who is featured on several Bill Evans albums to be frail.  Was I ever wrong!  While unflaggingly tasteful, Zigmund is a powerhouse.  Now I know why the likes of Evans, Jim Hall, Gary Peacock and Michel Petrucciani hired Zigmund. 

And for what it's worth, Scheps' stunning work in his frequent visits to Kansas City has made him one of my favorite mainstream saxophonists.  Zigmund and Scheps will perform at Take Five Coffee on Friday, April 18, and at the Blue Room on Saturday, April 19.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Now's the Time: Catherine Russell

Jazz shows are infrequent at Knuckleheads.  The last jazz-oriented vocalist I heard at the venue was Myra Taylor.  Like the late Kansas City legend, the New York-based Catherine Russell possesses a bluesy style that should win over the audience at the East Bottoms roadhouse on Wednesday, April 16.  Joe Klopus previewed Russell's performance in his column for The Kansas City Star.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Pitch touts the career prospects of Kelley Gant.

*Sunday's concert by Chick Corea and Béla Fleck was reviewed by The Kansas City Star and KC Metropolis.

*Saxophonist Ryan Anselmi's new album Lookout Road contains a hybrid of jazz and Americana sounds.

*Pat Metheny recalls the influence Wes Montgomery had on his early work.

*Megan Birdsall is interviewed by The Pitch about her Americana project MBird.

*Jazz blogging is harder than it looks.

*Tweet o' the Week: Nicholas Segura- It didn't really hit until tonight, I'll miss you so so much my sister Dionne Jeroue

*From a press release: Nationally-syndicated jazz variety show the 12th Street Jump will return to the Broadway Jazz Club on Wednesday, April 16th from 7:30 pm to 9pm and will celebrate the music of double bassist and composer Charles Mingus with special guest Steve Lambert on saxophone.  

*From a press release: (T)he Kansas City Kansas Community College Jazz Band is ramping up fundraising efforts for its trip to the 2014 Havana International Jazz Festival later this year… The KCKCC Jazz Band was invited to perform at the 2014 Havana International Jazz Festival in Havana, Cuba last fall. The festival is Dec. 17 to 22…  Donations are currently being accepted to help the KCKCC Jazz Band with the approximately $60,000 of travel expenses...

*From Michael Shults: This Friday night from 7-11 at Louie's Wine Dive I'm playing a very special show with a great tenor saxophonist from Cincinnati named Oz Landesberg. Oz is, in my view, the top saxophone player in the Queen City and was one of my greatest inspirations during my two years there. Really looking forward to this one. We'll be joined by Seth Lee and TJ Martley. Wanted to encourage everyone to come out and check out Oz's fabulous playing and welcome him to KC for the weekend!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Album Review: Mike Dillon's Band of Outsiders

I spent much of the weekend attending showcases by hip-hop and punk musicians at Ink's Middle of the Map Fest.  With the possible exception of two or three bookings including the Jorge Arana Trio, jazz-based artists were not among the 120 acts featured at the three-day festival.

The glaring omission might have been filled in part by Mike Dillon.  His new album Band of Outsiders is a potent blend of jazz, punk and jam band elements. 

Dillon has spent a significant portion of his career playing jazz-inspired music in rock-oriented venues in Kansas City.  Tom Waits and Frank Zappa are obvious reference points, but I've long thought of Dillon's sound as Lionel Hampton jamming with the Minutemen.  And because the new album features the exciting young trombonist Carly Meyers, the influence of J.J. Johnson is now an integral part of the mix.  (Meyers is featured in a 2013 performance with Dillon at St. Louis' KDHX here.)

Dillon and his partners in crime play jazz with sharp elbows.

I love attending jazz performances at refined clubs and concert halls.  Yet last weekend served as another reminder that jostling with dance-minded celebrants at crowded nightclubs is exhilarating.  When I listen to the earliest recordings of Kansas City jazz pioneers ranging from Bennie Moten to Charlie Parker, I sense a visceral sense of danger.  Much of today's jazz lacks that populist sense of immediacy.

Dillon's new album helps reestablish jazz's neglected connection to the functional music of the street.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Now's the Time: Chick Corea and Béla Fleck

Although he emerged from the world of bluegrass, Béla Fleck has been on the jazz tip for years. His arrangement of Chick Corea's "Spain" in the embedded video is remarkable. Fleck and Corea perform as a duet Sunday at Helzberg Hall. Joe Klopus previewed the concert in his column for The Kansas City Star.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Pitch reports that Dionne Jeroue has died.  The vocalist was 35.  KCJazzLark mourns her death.  In the handful of times I'd heard Jeroue, she was performing as a member of Everette DeVan's band.  Here's a related online fundraiser.

*Mike Dillon's Band of Outsiders was released on Tuesday.

*The new season of the Live at the Hollywood Theater concert series opens May 10 with a concert by Diverse and Black House Quartet.

*Eliot Zigmund was interviewed by Joe Klopus in advance of his area gigs with Rob Scheps.  The Pitch also takes note of the barnstorming tour.

*KCTV reports that Olathe South High School was mired in a racial profiling flap related to a field trip to the Jazz District. 

*Nate Chinen reviewed a concert by the Pat Metheny Unity Group for The New York Times.

*Los Angeles Magazine examines Charlie Parker's work for Dial.

*Joe Dimino of Neon Jazz interviewed Doug Peete.

*Tweet o' the Week: Brad Allen- Just heard about Dionne Jeroue. So sad.

*From a press release: The Count Basie Orchestra, one of the greatest and most important jazz orchestras in history, will play at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 27, in Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College.  Tickets, which are $35 and $25, are available through the JCCC Box Office at 913-469-4445 or online at  Scotty Barnhart, who was appointed as director in September, now leads the 18-member orchestra. Barnhart discovered his passion for music at an early age while being raised in Atlanta's historic Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. christened him. He has been a featured trumpet soloist with the Count Basie Orchestra for the last 20 years…

(Original image of a mural in Toronto by Plastic Sax.)