Thursday, October 30, 2014

Now's the Time: The Harlem Quartet

"Take the 'A' Train" is the rare jazz warhorse that manages to remain fresh no matter how often it's performed.  The Harlem Quartet's string version is entirely charming.  The ensemble is paired with Imani Winds at Yardley Hall on Saturday, November 1.  The second half the program features a new composition titled "Passion for Bach and Coltrane."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Pitch heralds the new version of Take Five Coffee + Bar.

*KC Jazz Lark reviewed albums by Diverse, the Project H and Shades of Jade.

*Pat Metheny won the Guitar category and the The Pat Metheny Unity Group took the honors in the Jazz Group and Jazz Album categories of the 2014 DownBeat Readers Poll.

*The Kansas City Star previewed a concert featuring Imani Winds and the Harlem Quartet.

*KCPT aired a nice feature on Brad Cox and Jennifer Owen.  (It starts at the 8:30 mark.)

*Joe Klopus previews Miguel Zenón's return to the Blue Room.

*Chris Burnett considers the concept of balance.

*Jack Wilkins is among Joe Dimino's latest interview subjects for Neon Jazz.

*Tweet o' the Week: Next On TCM- The jazz band's leader gets mixed up with gangster in '20s Kansas City. [Off topic: Go Royals!] #TCM

*From the KU School of Music: The University of Kansas Jazz Ensemble I will collaborate with the Kansas City-based group The Sons of Brasil for a special performance at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 5, 2014, at Lawrence Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students… For this extraordinary concert event, KU faculty, current and former student composers have written new arrangements of selections from The Sons of Brasil’s catalog to include a big band…

*From Take Five Coffee + Bar: Here it is, the weekend we've been working toward for months, when we all get to find out together just how much musical energy the new Take Five Coffee + Bar can generate. We have three high-energy jazz performances, a showcase of the kind of fun you'll find nowhere else on the planet. This weekend is our statement, our offering, and our best explanation of why we love Kansas City and its jazz community most of all… Friday, November 31, 8pm: Parallax Costume Party. $5 cover… Saturday, November 1, 8 pm: The People's Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City. No cover. Inaugural Jazz Brunch, Sunday, November 2, 10am - 2pm: Jazz Brunch with the Mark Lowrey Trio. No cover for brunches.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Take Two of Take Five

An inconspicuous sign in an inviting cranny of the new location of Take Five Coffee + Bar provides welcome news for Kansas City's jazz scene.  The government-mandated plaque reads "maximum occupancy 189."

About 50 people heard pianist Roger Wilder, bassist Bob Bowman and drummer Brian Steever support New York-based saxophonists Roger Rosenberg and Rob Scheps during the first set of the official opening night of Take Five's spacious new location on Friday, October 24.  That number would have filled the previous locale.

"It feels like the old place gave birth to triplets," Scheps joked.

There's lots to love about the revamped Take Five.  The sound on Friday- especially the depth and richness of Bowman's bass- was superb.  The relaxed atmosphere of the old venue also survived the move. 

By doubling down on their daring investment in the area's jazz scene, proprietors Doug and Lori Chandler, Plastic Sax's People of the Year in 2012, continue to improve the quality of life of the area's jazz aficionados. 

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Now's the Time: Bucky Pizzarelli

Octogenarian guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli and his musical partner Ed Laub will perform Sunday, October 26, at the Topeka Jazz Workshop and on Monday, October 27, at Broadway Jazz Club.  The latter show is a taping of 12th Street Jump.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Kansas City Star elicits comments from Hermon Mehari about his participation in the upcoming Thelonious Monk competition.

*KC Jazz Lark documents the 18th & Vine Jazz & Blues Festival.  A 17-minute video captures many of the event's sights and sounds.

*The Pitch recommends a show at Take Five Coffee + Bar featuring Gerald Spaits' band.

*A major ticketing site posted an interview with Eddie Moore.

*Tweet o' the Week: ReallyRylie- Sitting in Music Appreciation of Jazz wanting to cry of boredom. Remember this: The Royals are in the World Series.

*From Broadway Jazz Club: 12th Street Jump, the public radio syndicated Jazz and Comedy program, will be recording their broadcast honoring the music of Bucky Pizzarelli with special guests Bucky Pizzarelli and Ed Laub!! After the live recording stay for Eboni Fondren and Two Guitars (Matt Hopper & Charlie Gatschet), who will play from 9pm-11pm... Ticket prices range from $15 - $25.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Horace Washington

Horace Washington died last week.  His friendly stage presence and penchant for danceable soul-jazz made him one of Kansas City's most popular musicians in the 1980s.  I last heard him with the Elder Statesmen of Kansas City Jazz at the Blue Room during the 18th & Vine Jazz & Blues Festival on October 11.  As a review in The Kansas City Star noted, he led the band in a lively rendition of Herbie Mann's "Memphis Underground."  Washington was last featured at Plastic Sax in 2011.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Now's the Time: Phillip Johnston

Phillip Johnston, the founder of the Microscopic Septet, will perform at Helzberg Hall on Sunday, Oct. 19.  Wordless!, a collaboration with graphic novelist Art Spiegelman, is a "multimedia presentation with new original music." 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Hermon Mehari is one of 13 musicians who will participate in the semifinals of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition in New York on November 8.

*The Kansas City Star reviewed the 18th & Vine Jazz & Blues Festival.

*A television station broadcast a five-minute preview of the 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival.  CJ Janovy of KCUR captured a rendition of "Kansas City" at the event.

*The Pitch recommends Harold O'Neal's return to the Blue Room.

*KCPT provides a seven-minute overview of the recent Charlie Parker Celebration.

*OJT was featured on KCUR's Local Listen segment.

*A revival of the 1959 jazz musical "The Nervous Set" is previewed by The Kansas City Star.

*A blogger notes that Lalah Hathaway performed for over 5,000 people on Sunday.

*Joe Dimino interviewed Phil Woods for his Neon Jazz podcast.

*Tweet o' the Week: Clint Ashlock- KC, if you're going to the K tonight, get there early and hang with New Jazz Order in the Outfield at 5:00! #TakeTheCrown @Royals #kcjazz

*From Gerald Spaits: Saturday October 25th, Passit Productions and Take Five Coffee Bar will feature Jazz bassist Gerald Spaits in an evening of his own compositions. Gerald, known for backing up many of KC jazz greats will step into the role of composer and bandleader for a very special one-time performance. Joining Gerald on the new stage will be: Dave Chael on sax. T.J. Martley on grand piano. Brian Steever on drums.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Concert Review: The Andrew Ouellette Trio at Westport Coffee House

I've heard Andrew Ouellette perform straight-laced mainstream jazz and wild-eyed music with adventurous ensembles, but until Thursday I'd never attended one of his gigs as a leader. 

I was curious to see where the keyboardist would plant his musical flag as he collaborated with bassist Zach Beeson and drummer Brian Steever at the superb venue below the Westport Coffee House.

The selections performed during the first set are revealing.  In addition to at least one original composition, the trio played renditions of Harry Warren and Al Dubin's "September in the Rain," John Lewis' "Milestones," Brad Mehldau's "When It Rains," Milton Nascimento's "Cravo e Canela" and the unhappy ballad "Some Other Time."

The mix of standards, a show tune, a Brazilian number and a piece by a new jazz leader indicate that Ouellette embraces a wide range of styles. 

Steever, one of Kansas City's most excitable drummers, was as active as Ouellette was reserved.  Positioned between the very different men, Beeson ably connected their disparate styles for an audience of less than 10.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Now's the Time: Lalah Hathaway

Lalah Hathaway, one of the headliners of the American Jazz Museum's festival in 2010, headlines a free concert in the Power & Light District on Sunday, October 12, a day after the 2014 edition of the 18th & Vine Jazz & Blues Festival.  She and the jazz band Snarky Puppy won a Grammy Award in January for "Something," the song in the embedded video. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*KC Jazz Lark documented the final night of the original location of Take Five Coffee + Bar.  The venue will reopen in a larger space later this month.

*100 Years of Jazz is a new site promoting The Art of Kansas City Swing: An International Jazz Education Festival at the Mutual Musicians Foundation in 2015.

*Kristin Shafel Omiccioli reviewed the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra's most recent concert.

*The Kansas City Star reviewed Marilyn Maye's collaboration with the Kansas City Symphony.

*Shades of Jade was featured on KCUR's Local Listen segment.

*The Pitch touts this weekend's 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival.

*Joeless Shoe posted a "track rundown" of the band's new album Midsole.

*The Columbia Business Times published a love letter to the city's We Always Swing Jazz Series.

*Joe Dimino interviewed Ted Nash for his Neon Jazz podcast.

*Tweet o' the Week: American Jazz Museum- Great weather for a festival ... (link)

*From Fanny Dunfee: The year after Alaadeen passed, I wrote a book of poems titled "The Heartbeat Next To My Heartbeat." On October 25th, I am pleased to be part of Homegrown Reads, the Local Author Fair at the Kansas City, Kansas Public Library, South Branch, 3104 Strong Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas, from 1pm to 4:30pm… In addition to "The Heartbeat Next To My Heartbeat" I will have all of my books available for purchase including "Dysfunctional, life journeys of a second generation jazz musician," "The Rest Of The Story, Jazz Improvization and History" and "Alaadeen, The Complete Song Book."

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Jazz for a Rainy Afternoon

The Jazz for a Rainy Afternoon compilation was one of the bestselling jazz albums of 1998.  I was reminded of the concept's enormous appeal during Kansas City Kansas Community College's Jazz at the Lake series last Thursday.

After surviving a white-knuckled drive through a torrential downpour and locating an alternate way into the campus after finding that high water had closed the primary entrance, I felt as if the college's lodge-like conference center was a jazz Valhalla.

The noontime set by vibraphonist Peter Schlamb, guitarist Ron Carlson, bassist Greg Clinkingbeard and New York-based drummer Grisha Alexiev might have sounded overly polite in a conventional jazz venue, but the homey setting amid an audience of about 40 made the performance seem unusually meaningful.

Carlson referenced the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" in his clever introduction to "Autumn Leaves," one of three selections that featured saxophonist Jim Mair.  Schlamb's playing on an interpretation of John Coltrane's "Central Park West" was gorgeous. 

Alexiev's vigorous effort kept the ballads from becoming treacly.  He added thunder to renditions of Milt Jackson's "Bags' Groove" and Sam Rivers' "Beatrice."

Let it rain.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Now's the Time: The Fred Hersch Trio

The 2014-15 season of the Folly Jazz Series opens Saturday, October 4, with a trio led by pianist Fred Hersch.  Joe Klopus previewed the concert.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*After Anita Dixon of the Mutual Musicians Foundation recounted her recent trip to Copenhagen to meet members of the Ben Webster Foundation, a panel addressed the top of "How Kansas City Relates To Its Jazz Legacy" on KCUR's Central Standard program.

*KC Jazz Lark admires the atmosphere at the Green Lady Lounge during the Foundation 627 Big Band's weekly Sunday performances.

*The Kansas City Star and The Pitch reviewed of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band's concert at Harrah's casino.

*KCPT provides footage Bobby Watson's birthday celebration at the Blue Room.

*UMKC keeps tabs on Michael Shults' career.

*Contrary to published reports, neither The Bad Plus nor Roscoe Mitchell will perform at the Blue Room on Friday, Oct. 3.

*Chris Burnett ponders the art of jazz.

*Tweet o' the Week: LarryvilleLife- Out here at the Lied with these bigwigs to see Wynton. Too bad we can't enjoy a nice cocktail with our pricey tickets! @liedcenterks

*The Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated with a full slate of October gigs.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)