Friday, August 29, 2014

Now's the Time: Gravesite Services at Lincoln Cemetery

The embedded video indicates that the gravesite service for Charlie Parker at Lincoln Cemetery was a healthy affair as recently as 2008.  As Joe Klopus notes in his most recent column, attendance has dwindled in recent years.  Partly due to the efforts of the newly formed KC Jazz Alive organization, ceremonies on Friday, August 29, and Saturday, August 30, are expected to draw a substantial number of participants and onlookers.  Parker was born on August 29, 1920.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Kansas City Business Journal reports that "jazz isn't dead in KC."

*Rick Hellman reviewed Bobby Watson's recent performance at the Blue Room for Downbeat.

*The Pitch recommends a gig led by Matt Otto.

*Jon Poses praises the Prairie Village Jazz Festival in a roundup of upcoming jazz events.

*A one-man show titled Bird Lives! is playing in Los Angeles.

*Marc Myers offers a consumer guide to recordings of Charlie Parker's Rockland Palace concert.

*The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra's new album is titled OverTime: Music of Bob Brookmeyer.

*Tweet o' the Week: Mayor Sly James- Count Basie Orchestra at the Gem! (video)

*From a press release: The versatile vocals of Dan Doran, pianist, performing with Tim Whitmer & The Consort Band, Spirituality & All That Jazz, Unity Temple on the Plaza... Wednesday, September 3, 2014... Tickets at the door only - $7.00… .  Dan Doran has been a major presence on the Kansas City music scene for more than 30 years...

*From Rob Scheps: Baritone Sax Master Roger Rosenberg will give a Clinic with the Quintet including Rob Scheps, Roger Wilder, Bob Bowman and Brian Steever. Sunday October 26th, 3-6 pm, Take Five Coffee Bar… Roger Rosenberg, one of the greatest Baritone saxophonists in the History of Jazz, will: 1. Perform with the Quintet; 2.  Discuss his amazing career with Steely Dan (he is on a 3 month National tour with them right now); 3. The clinic is open to musicians who want to sit in, and receive constructive advice and criticism from Mr. Rosenberg.

(Original image of a window display in Westport by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Blue Yodel

I attended portions of two jam sessions last Monday.  The performances at the Blue Room and the Brick attracted approximately the same number of musicians and listeners.

The venues are one mile apart.  Many readers of Plastic Sax might suggest that the folk, country and bluegrass performed at the Brick every Monday is worlds removed from the jazz performed at the Blue Room.  Not only do I disagree with that assessment, I propose that musicians from the simultaneous jam sessions consider engaging in occasional interdenominational collaborations.

There are plenty of precedents.  Louis Armstrong and Lil Harden recorded "Blue Yodel No. 9" with Jimmie Rodgers in 1930.  Charlie Parker is reported to have enjoyed the country music of the day.  Béla Fleck is among today's musicians who ignore the boundaries between bluegrass and jazz.  The Kansas City jazz artist Matt Otto has spoken about the folk elements in his music.

Not only would hearing a banjo player wearing overalls sitting in with a jazz band at the Blue Room and listening to a jazz saxophonist playing with a bluegrass band at the Brick be interesting, such musical fraternization might generate new interest in both scenes.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Now's the Time: Regina Belle with the Count Basie Orchestra

Joe Klopus reports that Regina Belle will appear with the Count Basie Orchestra at the Gem Theater on Saturday, August 23.  Millions of people were introduced to the lustrous voice of the R&B and gospel artist through the 1989 hit "Make It Like It Was."  The concert will be preceded by a dedication of the "Kansas City Jazz Walk of Fame" on 18th Street. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*KC Jazz Lark took a self-guided tour of Charlie Parker-related sites.

*The Topeka Jazz Workshop's new season includes concerts by Bill Watrous, Bucky Pizzarelli and Harry Allen.

*The 2014-15 jazz recital series at Johnson County Community College has been unveiled.

*A television station produced a segment about this month's "A Charlie Parker Celebration" campaign.

*Joe Dimino interviewed Bobby Watson and Florida's Erica DiCeglie for Neon Jazz.

*The Pitch recommends the Count Basie Orchestra's appearance Saturday at the Gem Theater.

*Here's the schedule for this weekend's Charlie Parker Festival in New York.

*Tweet o' the Week: Broadway Jazz Club- Our house scotch is on special tonight for only $3!! #kc #kcmo #kcjazz

*Comment o' the Week: T.J. Martley- I have to give massive kudos to AJM and KCJazzAlive for their promotion of the Charlie Parker celebration month. I've had friends from outside KC contact me asking questions about it and the turnout at the first performance (Chaz with Todd Wilkinson) was excellent.

*From the Midwest Music Foundation: Local jazz legend, Everette DeVan, has been struggling during his recent medical battles with a stroke and now kidney failure. The Midwest Music Foundation has been helping with emergency health care grants, but there is a continued need for support until Everette is well enough to perform again. The family has been working hard to get assistance through many channels, but those are all taking some time before any financial relief will arrive. The family sincerely appreciates all those who have stepped up to donate and organize benefits in the past. Please consider making a donation to Everette or purchasing a CD. Donations can be mailed to: Everette DeVan, 7243 Highland, Kansas City MO 64131.

(Original image of Vine Street Rumble by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 17, 2014


I've lived in the Kansas City area for decades but Saturday was the first opportunity I've had to take a curated tour of sites associated with Charlie Parker.

When I purchased a ticket for the American Jazz Museum's one-off "Parker Historical Tour" through Ticketmaster for $25, I didn't think I'd learn much.  I was simply eager to participate in one of the signature events of this month's "A Charlie Parker Celebration" initiative.

After devouring the new Charlie Parker biographies by Stanley Crouch (Plastic Sax review) and Chuck Haddix (Plastic Sax review) and having already spent an unhealthy amount of time at locations including Lincoln Cemetery, I figured I was qualified to give the tour as I boarded the 30-seat trolley car on Saturday afternoon. 

I'd severely underestimated the value of having Haddix along for the ride.  An excellent tour guide, Haddix conjured long-demolished structures at empty lots and summoned vivid nightlife on vacant street corners. 

The tour stopped at two midtown residences, former venues in midtown and the Plaza, the site of Penn School, the former Paseo Hall, the sites of Addie Parker's homes near 15th & Olive and the Parker graves in Lincoln Cemetery.  The tour did not include the location of Parker's birthplace in Kansas City, Kansas, or the Mutual Musicians Foundation.

Following the two-hour outing, ticket holders were treated to appetizers in the Blue Room.  Mike Corrigan of B.A.C. Horn Doctors presented the American Jazz Museum with a replica of the first cornet owned by Louis Armstrong prior to a performance by Vine Street Rumble.

If even a cavalier critic found the expedition informative and entertaining, it's almost certain that anyone with a passing interest in Parker or in the history of Kansas City would appreciate it even more.

(Original images by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Now's the Time: Stan Kessler and Kathleen Holeman

The duo of trumpeter Stan Kessler and vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Kathleen Holeman perform in the lounge of the EBT Restaurant on Saturday, August 16.  Both musicians have personality to spare.  They're accompanied by pianist Roger Wilder and bassist Bob Bowman in the embedded video.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*A "Tactical Social Media Promo Kit" designed to draw attention to this month's "Charlie Parker Celebration" is praised in the Kansas City Business Journal.  KC Jazz Lark extolls the effort and points out a related item Rick Hellman wrote for Downbeat.

*The Mid-America Arts Alliance is presenting a free concert by Vine Street Rumble on Friday, September 5.

*A gig by Clint Ashlock's Forward is sanctioned by The Pitch.

*Chris Burnett riffs on the memorization and recreation of classic works. 

*Tweet o' the Week: Fredric Sims- I think I am falling in love with jazz again! @GreenLadyLounge! #JazzTrio

*Comment o' the Week: Cb- Nice work. Reminds me lots of Logan Richardson.

*From Johnson County Community College: Two prominent area jazz musicians will perform at Johnson County Community College on Tuesday, Aug. 26, as part of a Kansas City celebration honoring Charlie “Yardbird” Parker. Bandleader and bassist Gerald Spaits and alto saxophonist Charles Perkins will play from noon to 1 p.m. in the college’s Atrium, the space between the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art and the Regnier Center. The performance… is free and open to the public…

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Album Review: Peter Schlamb- Tinks

Peter Schlamb is full of surprises. 

The vibraphonist's participation in hip-hop themed concerts, collaborations with New York-based musicians and his increasingly impressive mainstream jazz performances have been documented at Plastic Sax. 

None of that prepared me for his new album Tinks.   A compact set of nine original compositions, Tinks includes contributions from trumpeter Hermon Mehari, saxophonist Ben van Gelder, bassist Karl McComas-Reichl and drummer Sean Mullins.  Yet because of an unusual array of production effects, it's often difficult to identify the instrumentation on the terrifically entertaining album.

I have no idea which musician is featured on "Launch," but the trickery is very compelling.  The propulsive "Falling" opens with metallic riffing that may or may emanate from a vibraphone.  The instrumentation on the fusion-like "Lunacy" is similarly perplexing.  "Stacy Hill" and "Theme Song" are more conventional but no less interesting.

No selection is longer than five minutes and most of the beats are remarkably fresh.  As a result, the altogether vital Tinks is as immediately engaging as a pop album.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Now's the Time: The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra

Worlds will collide on Saturday, August 16, when The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra performs at Knuckleheads.  Most of the refined big band's concerts are held at Helzberg Hall in the elegant Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.  The region's primary destination for blues and roots rock, Knuckleheads is festooned with neon.  The juxtaposition should be memorable. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Shay Estes won the Jazz Solo category and Project H claimed the prize for top Jazz Ensemble at Sunday's Pitch Music Awards ceremony.

*An Indiegogo campaign has been created to raise funds for the Alaadeen Jazz Master/Apprentice Program.

*A local television station produced a two-minute feature on Tim Whitmer.

*The Pitch recommends the Paul Shinn Trio's four-night residency at the Green Lady Lounge.

*"Do It Up & Do It Right" is another track from the Project H's forthcoming album.

*KC Jazz Lark commemorates his blog's fifth anniversary with a round of great photos.

*A new generation of plastic saxophones is being created.

*Dean Minderman of St. Louis Jazz Notes reports that Mary Halvorson, Roscoe Mitchell, Craig Taborn, Glenn Kotche and Tim Berne are among the artists featured in New Music Circle's 2014-15 season.

*Tweet o' the Week: Mills Record Company- Okay...Jorge Arana Trio and Temp Tat too. Haymaker Records Brenton has been tuning up the projector since 2 today. He has a video to show you

*Comment o' the Week: KC Jazz Lark: I was at The Phoenix about the same time, maybe a little earlier, with a couple of friends. The club was about half filled for Tim Whitmer & KC Express with Lori Tucker, with more people streaming in when we left. That's something The Phoenix has done well: Between Lonnie McFadden on Friday evenings and Tim on Saturdays, they have found a couple of popular and fun acts who have built a buzz and make people think of The Phoenix when conisdering where to get some drinks downtown on a weekend evening, I don't know which other musicians could build a similar buzz at other clubs, but it''s something Green Lady could use and Broadway Jazz Club needs.

*From Jim Mair: Jazz by the Lake so far: First Thursday of the Month noon to 1pm KCKCC Conference Center by the Lake. Thursday September 4:KCKCC Jazz Faculty Cuba Kick Off. Thursday October 2: Diana Herold/Grisha Alexiev Quartet from New York City. Thursday November 6: The Roberto Magris Trio (pianist from Italy and J Mood recording Artist).

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Use It Or Lose It

I joined an audience of two when I walked into a jazz club yesterday. 

The band included one of Kansas City's most respected elder statesman and one of region's most notable young lions.  To paraphrase the pop song of the summer, their astounding talents should have the musicians "in the fast lane from L.A. to Tokyo."  Instead, the number of listeners had only grown to six when I left the club an hour later. 

While updating The Kansas City Jazz Calendar I found that a remarkable amount of non-jazz acts were booked at jazz venues in August.  It's difficult to begrudge venue managers of the shift when jazz acts aren't consistently drawing crowds. 

It's one thing to tout Kansas City's jazz heritage.  It's quite another to support the present artistic renaissance by actually attending gigs.  And yes, I'm as culpable as many purported jazz fans.  I left the forsaken jazz club to join a throng of thousands at a funk concert.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Now's the Time: Lester "Duck" Warner

Lester "Duck" Warner will perform at Tim Whitmer's Spirituality & All That Jazz program at Unity on the Plaza on Wednesday, August 6.  The embedded footage of a 2006 event also features (in order of solos) Horace Washington on flute, Everett Freeman on keyboards, Karita Carter on trombone and Leon Brady on drums.  Tyrone Clark is on bass.