I want my money back.
In a noble but flawed effort to present as many musicians associated with Kansas City's jazz scene as possible while still attracting a large audience, organizers of the Jazz in the Woods festival apportioned tiny time slots to four opening acts for Saturday's headliner Mindi Abair, a smooth jazz and pop star from California. The intention was commendable, but the result was extremely frustrating.
The published schedule- "6:20 - 7:20 PM Angela Hagenbach/Lauren Braton, 7:45 - 8:45 PM Bobby Watson/Eldar, 9:10 - 10:25 PM Mindi Abair"- led me to believe that the opening sets would feature collaborations.
I was wrong.
Bobby Watson played for 30 glorious minutes and Eldar Djangirov was on stage for about 25 impressive minutes. Both men employed guitarist Rod Fleeman, but otherwise each man brought his own band.
Backed by Fleeman, pianist Joe Cartwright, bassist Tyrone Clark and drummer Mike Warren, Watson performed three selections- his original composition "Sweet Dreams," Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood" and Duke Pearson's "Jeannine." Each piece was better than the last. Watson ran out of time just as he and his band were getting properly warmed up.
Eldar Djangirov was supported by Fleeman, saxophonist Jim Mair, bassist Gerald Spaits and drummer Todd Strait. The highlight of his unnaturally abridged set, however, was an unaccompanied version of "Take the 'A' Train."
With the exception of drummer Doug Auwarter, Angela Hagenbach and Lauren Braton used the same band as Djangirov. Each charming vocalist sang for about 30 minutes.
The event may have been free, but the opportunity for a priceless collaboration was lost.
(Original images by Plastic Sax.)