Friday, February 27, 2015

Now's the Time: Bill Frisell

Bill Frisell will perform songs associated with Woody Guthrie at White Theatre on the campus of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City on Friday, March 6.  Violinists Jenny Scheinman and Eyvind Kang, cellist Hank Roberts and drummer Rudy Royston will collaborate with the guitarist.  Frisell plays with Charlie Haden and Ginger Baker in the embedded clip.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Clint Ashlock is featured in a cover story by The Pitch.

*KC Jazz Lark reveals that his previous post about the Mutual Musicians Foundation’s plans for a radio station was poorly received in some quarters.

*Joe Klopus highlights a forthcoming concert by the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra.

*Missouri Western State University's student newspaper published a story about The Project H.

*Sunday brunch at Take Five Coffee + Bar is recommended by The Pitch.

*Trumpeter Clark Terry has died.  I’m almost certain that a 2010 tribute to Duke Ellington at the Gem Theater that also featured Ahmad Alaadeen was Terry's final performance in Kansas City.

*Steve Kraske interviewed the Hot Sardines on KCUR’s Up To Date.

*Eddie Moore and Charles McPherson are among Joe Dimino’s recent interview subjects.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Ryan Keberle- Blues, TIME, humor, honesty - quintessential Clark Terry summed up in 2 choruses with the Count Basie Band (video)

*Comment o’ the Week: Gary- So you're getting Bill Shapiro's gig, huh?

*From a press release: The University of Kansas School of Music proudly presents the 38th Annual KU Jazz Festival concerts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7 in Woodruff Auditorium at the Kansas Union. This year’s concerts feature special guest artists Jerry Bergonzi, saxophone (March 6) and Marshall Gilkes, trombone (March 7). Both concert events are open to the public… For more information about the KU Jazz Festival visit KU Jazz Festival.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Bright Lights

My detractors will be pleased to hear that I was briefly heckled and jeered during my appearance on the stage of the Folly Theater on Saturday.

Many listeners at the pre-concert talk I conducted with two members of The Hot Sardines took offense at a self-deprecating ageist wisecrack.

No such animosity was directed at the eight-piece band from New York.  The octet floored an audience of about 700.

The Hot Sardines is a clearly band that’s going places.  It’s not that its members are incomparable musicians.  While every member of the ensemble was very good, there are plenty of superior musicians in Kansas City.

The band’s remarkable showmanship sets its apart.  Describing the ensemble’s antics would make it sound corny.  It’s not.  Somehow the Hot Sardines’ audience-pleasing shenanigans don’t seem the least bit hokey.

That’s a big reason why the ensemble has the support of a major record label while many giants of jazz struggle to secure gigs and fund recording sessions.

Audiences expect to be entertained.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Now's the Time: The Hot Sardines

The Hot Sardines a New York based ensemble specializing in Prohibition-era party jazz, will perform at the Folly Theater on Saturday, February 21. The author of Plastic Sax will host an interview session with the band one hour prior to the concert at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*KC Jazz Lark scrutinizes the Mutual Musicians Foundation’s plans to launch a low-wattage radio station.

*Joe Klopus highlights the Hot Sardines’ forthcoming performance in his weekly column.

*A 1,200-word review of Dominique Sanders’ new album is posted at Demencha.

*The Pitch recommends a performance by Bob Bowman, Danny Embrey and Rod Fleeman.

*Are any jazz musicians part of the famous mural at BB’s Lawnside BBQ?  A reception with the artist at the restaurant on Sunday, February 22, will provide answers.

*Tweet o’ the Week: No Depression- A week from now, our Editor @kimruehl will be in Kansas City for @folkalliance. Who else is heading out there this week?

*From Shades of Jade: The local music group Shades of Jade has gone through several changes in the last few months. Beginning with a traditional jazz quartet instrumentation in 2011, their campaign to push towards a more popular and younger following in the last 3 months has drastically changed the band… They have just recently started an artist residency with… The Tank Room. Shades of Jade will be exclusively debuting their new original music every third Friday of the month this year from 9pm-1am.

*From Chris Burnett: On behalf of the children of Violet Lorraine Jackson Burnett, our children and spouses, I regret to inform you all of the passing of our eldest brother and my very first professional musical mentor, Richard Dean Pratt… Known professionally as Richie Pratt​, we in the family called him by his middle name "Dean".  The biggest question we have been asked all of our lives is why we have different last names.  We have the same mother and different fathers. Many of you may recall that Dean returned home to the Kansas City area to live in October of 2012 from Honolulu, Hawaii due primarily to on-going serious health issues inherent to being a really large man, along with some other ailments related to age… I am sad that he is gone, but he lived a long and wonderful life.

*From a press release: Parranderos Latin Combo performs February 21st at Take Five Coffee + Bar in support of their self-titled debut album that was recorded in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Iowa-based Latin music group, Parranderos Latin Combo (PLC), will play two sets of live salsa with a dance lesson by Josh Hernandez… This will be PLC’s debut performance at Take Five Coffee + Bar and will feature some of KC’s finest musicians including Karl McComas-Reichl, Chris Van Leeuwen, Ryan Heinlein and co-founding PLC member, John Kizilarmut.

*From Take Five Coffee + Bar: Friday night we present the Ben Leifer Quartet featuring Gunnar Gidner… a young tenor saxophonist… John Brewer is on guitar, and played some mind-blowing free improvisation at our old location, and Matt Leifer on drums… 8pm, $5 cover.  Saturday night’s extravaganza features the first Kansas City appearance for Des Moines based Parranderos Latin Combo… Free (dance) lessons at 7:30, show at 8:30 (and this one’s going late).  $10 cover.  Our last Sunday brunch before our Month of Sundays series begins is hosted by none other than Stan Kessler.  10am to 2pm, no cover.

*I will serve as the pre-concert interview host with The Hot Sardines at the Folly Theater at 7 p.m. on Saturday, February 21.  Feel free to heckle.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Album Review: Rudresh Mahanthappa- Bird Calls

Anyone claiming to know what directions Charlie Parker would have taken had he not died at 34 in 1955 is being presumptuous. 

The native of Kansas City, Kansas, may have explored the same surprising paths as Miles Davis.  Or maybe his career would have mirrored the comparatively conventional work of acolytes like Charles McPherson.

It’s also possible that Parker would have eventually made music that resembles Bird Calls, the revelatory new album by a band led by Rudresh Mahanthappa.  Not since Bird Songs, the 2011 album by Joe Lovano & Us 5, has a group of musicians so ably extended Parker’s adventurous vision.

Respectful but never predictable, the New York based alto saxophonist Mahanthappa, trumpeter Adam O'Farrill, pianist Matt Mitchell, bassist François Moutin and drummer Rudy Royston don’t cover Parker’s material.  Instead, the band plays “original compositions which are based on his work.”

Familiar fragments of Parker’s concepts serve as helpful reference points on an album that echoes old recordings even as it points the way forward.  The project is very entertaining for ornithologists, but it’s also certain to be among the most widely admired acoustic jazz albums of 2015.

I regularly encounter people who bemoan the lack of awareness many Kansas Citians have of Parker and his legacy.  I usually retort that honoring Parker should entail more than visiting historic sites and studying black-and-white photos.

Bird Calls is a vivid reminder that Bird lives. 

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Now's the Time: Eric Johnson and Mike Stern

Eric Johnson and Mike Stern- two of the world’s most renowned guitarists- will perform at the RecordBar on Friday, February 13.  The duo trades flashy licks in the embedded video.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Kansas City Star reports that the Mutual Musicians Foundation has received approval to proceed with plans to open a 100-watt radio station.  Anita Dixon was interviewed by a television station about the concept.  A blogger examines the viability of the plan.

*A profile of Gunnar Gidner, a saxophonist studying at UMKC and the winner of the 2015 Vandoren Emerging Jazz Artist Competition, was published by KCUR.

*KC Jazz Lark reports that Take Five Coffee + Bar was filled to capacity during a performance by the Boogaloo 7. 

*Sonny Gibson speaks about Charlie Parker in a television news report.

*Joe Klopus recommended Gerald Albright’s concert at the Gem Theater.

*The Pitch touted Mark Southerland's Mardi Ra show at Take Five Coffee + Bar.

*KCUR previewed Marcus Hampton’s gig at the Blue Room.

*“Jazz: Then and Now,” an exhibit at the American Jazz Museum, is promoted in a three-minute television segment.

*The Millennial Society, a new initiative of the American Jazz Museum, “aims to reach out to more millennials.”

*Rudresh Mahanthappa spoke to NPR about his new Charlie Parker-inspired album.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Trey Sanchez- @ExploreKC Comparing the green lady to the Broadway club. At the green lady I experienced a luxury called a "PARKING SPOT" #Jazz #parking

*From Take Five Coffee + Bar: Friday, February 13, 8pm: Mardi Ra with Mark Southerland- ...Join us for Sun Ra meets Mardi Gras, hosted by Mark Southerland on saxophone and various wind-powered creations, with Clarke Wyatt on keyboards, Nick Howell, trumpet, Bill McKemy, bass and sousaphone, and Arnold Young on drums and cymbals. $10 cover.  Saturday, February 14, 8pm: Second-Line Valentine!- ....Drummer (and Take Five barista!) Brad Williams leads the second-line jam… $5 cover.  Sunday, February 8, 10am - 2pm: Sunday Jazz Brunch: Jeff Harshbarger- Master bassist Jeff Harshbarger has long been one of the city’s leading creative spirits... Andrew Ouellette on piano, Brian Steever on whisk broom. No cover.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Concert Review: Lauren Krum and the Project H at Westport Coffee House

Anticipating a rollicking set of hillbilly jazz, I eagerly paid the $10 cover to hear Lauren Krum sing with The Project H at the Westport Coffee House last Thursday.

I didn’t get what I paid for.

Instead, the collaboration between the vocalist from the alternative country band The Grisly Hand and the trombone-led jazz collective was a sophisticated exposition of adult pop. 

Rather than the Bob Wills-style Western swing I expected, Krum and the band played elegant renditions of material by the likes of Beck, Emily King, Michael Kiwanuka and Amy Winehouse.  The result resembled a promising rehearsal for a Shelby Lynne recording session.

Only the last selection, a tender reading of the standard “Why Try to Change Me Now?” that featured a sensitive contribution from saxophonist Brett Jackson, could be comfortably classified as jazz.  

While the show was nothing like what I’d anticipated, it was even better than I’d dared to hope.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Now's the Time: Alaturka and Mike Dillon

Aside from their adventurous approaches to jazz, Alaturka and Malachy Papers wouldn’t seem to have much in common.  Alaturka favors a chamber music approach while Malachy Papers brings the noise.  Yet members of both Kansas City bands wound up sharing the stage of a midtown barroom during a 2011 double bill.  Alaturka performs Tuesday, Feb. 10, at the RecordBar.  The peripatetic percussionist Mike Dillon, a member of the dormant Malachy Papers collective, leads a band at the Brick on Sunday, Feb. 8.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle created a video for their cover of Erykah Badu’s “Time’s a Wastin’”.  The collective was also featured in a Local Listen segment on KCUR.

*KC Jazz Lark uploaded a vintage Pete Eye album featuring Bob Branstetter and Tommy Ruskin to YouTube.  Why does this seem eerily familiar to me?

*Hermon Mehari is featured in a 435 Magazine profile.

*Zack Albetta was the subject of a KCUR story about moving from Kansas City to Los Angeles.

*The Wrong Kata Trio was documented in a Live @ KJHK session.

*The Prism Quartet, an ensemble that includes Zach Sherman, Assistant Professor of Saxophone at UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance, has released Heritage/Evolution, an album that includes contributions from today’s top jazz saxophonists and conceptualists including Rudresh Mahanthappa and Miguel Zenón.  (Tip via M.S.)

*The Jorge Arana Trio and the Project H will perform at the 2015 edition of the Middle of the Map festival.

*Randy Weston is among Joe Dimino’s latest interview subjects.

*Tweet o’ the Week: The Project H- We enjoy playing 4 people who might not normally seek us out. Between @folkalliance and @motmfest we should be good in that dept this Spring

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- The July 4 lineup for the Iowa City Jazz festival is killer! Why can't KC have that?

*From the American Jazz Museum: "Women have always played a significant role in developing the music through creative compositions, stellar performances and their work behind the scenes in presenting the music.  Unfortunately, these contributions have gone either unrecognized or were written out of the history books. The American Jazz Museum takes pride in shinning the light on their fabulous efforts", states Gregory A. Carroll, Chief Executive Officer of the American Jazz Museum… Highlights of this year’s programs include: 18 performances in the Award-Winning Blue Room jazz club, featuring local, regional and national women jazz artists.

*From Michael Pagán: Join us for a performance of the NU All-Star Jazz Quartet, a group of four distinguished jazz performers and educators with degrees from Northwestern University. This event will take place at the prestigious Blue Room… on Thursday, February 12th, 7-11pm.  The quartet features Tim Aubuchon, saxophone; Michael Pagán, piano; Hans Sturm, bass; Michael Brothers, drums… This event is free and open to the public.

*From Johnson County Community College: The spring 2015 season of the JCCC Jazz Series will kick off Tuesday, Feb. 24, with a group called the Clint Ashlock Trio. The series, which showcases the talents of local jazz musicians, is free and open to the public. Performances will take place at noon on Tuesdays for seven consecutive weeks. They will be held in the Recital Hall of the Carlsen Center unless otherwise noted. Feb. 24- The Music of Chet Baker, Clint Ashlock Trio. March 3- Pam Baskin-Watson Quartet. March 10- Bryan Hicks and Rod Fleeman. March 17- Rich Hill Organ Trio (Polsky Theatre). March 24- Chris Clarke Trio. March 31- 3 X 2. April 7- Passport.

*From Beau Bledsoe: Alaturka  announces their first performance of 2015 at the recordBar with special guest percussionist, John Kizilarmut.  Tuesday, Feb 10th 7pm.  Alaturka was formed in 2009 with the vision of creating an equal “auditory handshake” between two musical cultures, American jazz and Turkish classical music… Rich Wheeler tenor  - saxophone. Beau Bledsoe  - oud, guitar. Jeff Harshbarger -  bass. Brandon Draper  - percussion. Special guest: John Kizilarmut - percussion. $15 advance $18 door.

*From Take Five Coffee + Bar: … we'll be running dinner specials for each show.  Friday, February 6, 8pm: Music by the Rich Wheeler Quartet… a powerhouse jazz ensemble… Rich Wheeler on tenor saxophone, TJ Martley on piano, Bill McKemy on bass and Sam Wisman on drums.  $5 cover.  What's for dinner: Grilled Chicken Breast with Spinach and Mushrooms in a Dijon cream sauce with wild rice and vegetable medley, $11.95. Saturday, February 7, 8pm: Parallax- …Stan on trumpet and flugelhorn, Roger Wilder on Fender Rhodes piano, Bill McKemy on upright and electric basses and sousaphone, and BOTH Ryan Lee and Brian Steever on drums and cymbals and whatnot. It’s a project that… takes everyone along for the ride, like in some kind of twin-engined pan-galactic space yacht. $5 cover. What's for dinner: Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo, $12. 95. Sunday, February 8, 10am - 2pm: Sunday Jazz Brunch: Ben Leifer-  Ben Leifer is one of Kansas City’s most in-demand jazz bassists, an e. Come feast on Waffles Benedict, Mimosas… No cover.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Album Review: Dominique Sanders- A True Story Based On...

A True Story Based On…, the bold, imaginative and vital new album by Dominique Sanders, opens with a skit that features an eclectic array of music including a few seconds of ”Invincible”, a song by the locally based pop-punk band the Beautiful Bodies.

Similarly astounding surprises are sprinkled throughout the 75-minute project.

While he may be best known for playing bass in Kansas City jazz clubs, Sanders includes elements of electronic music, funk, hip-hop, soul and rock on A True Story Based On….

Jazz fans needn’t feel left out.  Trumpeter Hermon Mehari, saxophonist Steve Lambert, pianist Andrew Ouellette and drummer Ryan Lee join Sanders on "Visible Galaxies."  The selection eventually transforms into a progressive fusion assault that climaxes with Danny Embrey’s metallic guitar solo.

"Inner Dimensions" boasts stellar contributions from saxophonist Andy McGhie and pianist Harold O'Neal.

Suggesting that the album is a who’s-who of young players on Kansas City’s jazz scene would be an exaggeration, but Matt Hopper, Mark Lowrey, Ernest Melton and Josh Williams are among the additional heavy hitters credited in the liner notes.

The R&B and funk tracks may be even more impressive than the jazz-oriented selections.  The sultry "Dreamin'" features smooth vocals by Anthony Saunders.    Reggie B raps and sings on the funky "Someone Else."  The wavy neo-soul of Awakening is a feature for Miles Bonny.

While the album would be improved by a twenty-minute trim, a bit of extravagance is to be expected from dynamic young musicians.  A True Story Based On… contains an excess of enthusiasm.

Many people objected when Flying Lotus' You're Dead was named the top album of 2014 at Plastic Sax.  Those same jazz purists won't be much happier when they find the similarly adventurous A True Story Based On… near the top of Plastic Sax's year-end album list in 2015.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)