Monday, December 22, 2014
The Top Jazz-Related Stories and Trends of 2014
1. Bird Is the Word
Two essential biographies of Charlie Parker- Stanley Crouch's Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker and Chuck Haddix's Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker were published. The authors appeared together at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center in June.
2. Blessed are the Peacemakers
The new jazz support organization KC Jazz Alive bridged various longstanding divides that had long separated several locally based entities. KC Jazz Alive's efforts to revitalize the annual Charlie Parker graveside ceremony attracted a few dozen people to Lincoln Cemetery in August.
3. Bigger and Better
The new location of Take Five Coffee + Bar increased the venue's capacity without diminishing its charming atmosphere and excellent acoustics. The opening of the Orion Room in the basement of the Green Lady Lounge is a similarly heartening development. After opening in December of 2013, the Broadway Jazz Club presented live music throughout the year.
What constituted jazz in 2014? My top albums list included titles some categorize as hip-hop and ambient music, so I'm not in a position to criticize Kansas City jazz venues and festival organizers for repeatedly booking reggae, R&B and Latin rock bands.
6. Empty seats
It was extremely encouraging to witness packed houses at the Blue Room, the Green Lady Lounge and Take Five Coffee + Bar during compelling jazz performances. It was not uncommon, however, to see empty seats outnumber bodies at other prominent bookings.
Horace Washington, a pillar of Kansas City's jazz community, died in October. Dionne Jeroue, a young up-and-coming vocalist, died in March. (EDIT: We also lost Stephanie Bryan, a trombonist and all-around lovely person, this year.)
8. I Mean You
Hermon Mehari competed in the 2014 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition.
9. Lights, Camera Action!
Dave Rizer continued to document Kansas City's jazz scene with dozens of performance videos. He's providing an invaluable service.
9. Bowman's back
The resuscitation of Bob Bowman's career is a godsend.
Chris Hazelton released a 7" single and a host of Kansas City jazz artists released worthwhile recordings.
I conducted similar exercises in 2013, 2012 and 2011.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)