Monday, June 29, 2015

Concert Review: Trio Red at the Blue Room

Only a handful of musicians on Kansas City’s vibrant jazz scene overtly reference the European sound associated with the ECM and ACT record labels. 

That’s why I jumped at the chance to hear Trio Red perform at the Blue Room last Thursday. 

Pianist Tom Cawley, drummer Tom Bancroft and a substitute bassist from Scotland whose name I couldn’t make out played two sets of a brand of jazz that’s rarely performed in Kansas City.

About ten talkers and ten listeners were present.

While the influence of the Brad Mehldau Trio was evident, Trio Red's approach reminded me more of the Esbjörn Svensson Trio.  A few interesting twists distinguished the ensemble from other piano trios.

Bandleader Bancroft’s playing occasionally evoked Don Moye of the Art Ensemble of Chicago.  Original compositions with titles like “Don't Break Your Heart (Like Rickie Lee Jones)” and “The Mole of History Takes a Bow (And Trips)” and a mashup of Joan Armatrading’s “Opportunity" and Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman” further demonstrated Trio Red’s idiosyncrasies.

Bancroft recalled that Ross Russell’s Bird Lives stoked his passion for jazz as he introduced to a rollicking version of Charlie Parker’s “Billie’s Bounce.”  The trio’s interpretation veered in unconventional directions that might have seemed heretical to many Kansas City based musicians. 

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Now's the Time: Lisa Engelken

As the embedded video suggests, Lisa Engelken is not a run-of-the-mill  jazz vocalist.  The native Kansan and Bay Area resident will focus on material from her 2013 album Little Warrior at Take Five Coffee + Bar on Saturday, July 27. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The late Kerry Strayer took 19th place in the category of best baritone saxophonist in the 2015 Downbeat Critic’s Poll.  Also of note: Pat Metheny came in fifth in the guitarist category.  Kevin Mahogany was voted the 15th best male vocalist.  Karrin Allyson was named the 13th best female vocalist.  Other musicians with Kansas City connections appeared in the Rising Star subsection: the People’s Liberation Big Band (big band, 21st place) Eldar Djangirov (piano, 20th place), Chris Hazelton (organist, 19th place), Mike Dillon (vibraphone, 20th place).  Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Charlie Parker-inspired Bird Calls took Album of the Year.

*Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle’s Live In Kansas City album is available now.

*The AM Trio’s As of Now album has an official release date of June 30.

*KCUR published a detailed review of Dominique Sanders’ A True Story Based On…

*Joe Klopus runs down the week’s top jazz events in his latest column.

*Chris Burnett interviewed Marcus Hampton.

*”Kansas City’s oldest, most successful and least respected jazz festival" is examined by KC Jazz Lark.  He documented a portion of Saturday’s concerts at Jazz in the Woods.

*A television station produced a report on the Mutual Musicians Foundation’s plans for a radio station.  The station also aired a feature about KC Jazz Tours.

*KCUR reports on the 2nd Annual American Jazz Walk of Fame induction ceremony.

*ARC Label Week at the Blue Room will feature “two 90-minute concerts” on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday next week. 

*Richie Pratt is memorialized by Chris Burnett.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Wendy Peffercorn- so basically I plan on spending my Saturday afternoon hunting down @MickJagger in Kansas City. First stop, American Jazz Museum.

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous - I hope your lukewarm review of the OJT CD doesn't discourage people from going to the Green Lady to support this great trio. Their live sets are much more adventurous than the CD. It's always a blast. I liked the line in Roger Atkinson's review of this CD (in a recent JAM magazine) where he mentions that hearing the OJT theme at the GL makes him want to grab another drink and stay for the next set. I can relate to that!

*From a press release: Bram Wijnands with Tim Whitmer & The Consort Band at Unity Temple on the Plaza, 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 1.  $7. Bram Wijnands began playing piano at an early age in Eindhoven, the Netherlands... In July 1991, Bram made his debut on the KC Jazz scene at the City Light Jazz Club with Kansas City’s own Richard Ross.

*From Lisa Engelken: This Saturday is the celebration: the CD Release with a live debut of Little Warrior at Take Five Coffee + Bar: Saturday, June 27th… The Band: Kansas City's finest:  Roger Wilder on piano and Gerald Spaits on bass will be joining SF (by way of UK) drummer Matthew Swindells and myself.

(Original image of the salsa band 5ta Eskina busking in Santiago, Chile, last week by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Plastic Sax’s Favorite Performances and Albums of 2015 (So Far)

I’m taking a break from blogging for two or three weeks. Here are lists of my favorite things on the jazz scene during the first half of 2015.

Favorite Performances by Locally Based Musicians
1. Lauren Krum with the Project H- Westport Coffeehouse (Plastic Sax review)
2. Peter Schlamb’s Electric Tinks- RecordBar
3. Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7- Green Lady Lounge
4. Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle- Take Five Coffee + Bar (Plastic Sax review)
5. James Isaac Quintet- Take Five Coffee + Bar (Plastic Sax Review)

Favorite Performances by Musicians From Elsewhere
1. Trio M- Take Five Coffee + Bar (Plastic Sax review)
2. Avishai Cohen, Tal Mashiach and Nasheet Waits- Take Five Coffee + Bar (Plastic Sax review)
3. Max Raabe and Palast Orchester- Helzberg Hall
4. Bill Frisell- White Theatre
5. The Hot Sardines- Folly Theater

Favorite Albums by Locally Based Musicians
1. Dominique Sanders- A True Story Based On… (Plastic Sax review)
2. Matt Kane & the Kansas City Generations Sextet- Acknowledgement (Plastic Sax review)
3. Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle- Live In Kansas City
4. Paul Shinn Trio- Easy Now (Plastic Sax review)
5. Julian Vaughn- Limitless (Plastic Sax review)

Favorite Albums by Musicians From Elsewhere
1. Rudresh Mahanthappa- Bird Calls (Plastic Sax review)
2. Marc Cary- Rhodes Ahead, Vol. 2
3. Donny McCaslin- Fast Future
4. Terence Blanchard- Breathless
5. Kamasi Washington- The Epic

(Original image of Eddie Moore by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Now's the Time: The Mike Pagán Big Band

The Mike Pagán Big Band features what the bandleader describes as a “who’s who of Kansas City jazz.”  A portion of the ensemble’s May 23 performance at the Bob James Jazz Festival is documented in the embedded video.  The big band performs next at Piropos in Briarcliff on June 13 at 2 p.m.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Dominique Sanders recently won the iStandard Producers Showcase for the Kansas City area.  Here’s a related interview.

*The Mutual Musicians Foundation has three special events planned in June.

* praised the Green Lady Lounge and Take Five Coffee + Bar. 

*The Pitch notes Saturday’s triple-bill at the Blue Room.

*Jaleel Shaw has been named as the artist in residence at the Charlie Parker Celebration in August.

*Johnny Hamil was interviewed by Nick Omiccioli.

*Bobby Watson promoted his gigs at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.

*Marc Myers highlights a new Carmell Jones reissue.

*Joe Dimino interviewed Stefon Harris.

*Tweet o’ the Week: NPR R&B- Now playing on I'll Take You There  ♬ Jay McShann - Blue Devil Jump ♬ (link)

*Comment o’ the Week: John Scott Fitness: Chained Lighting, Black Peter and OJT theme are my favorite tracks on OJT's album. Their next album will be all originals. I hope they put Brian Baggett's original composition Pickles on it. He wrote that for his then ex gf and future wife back when he was in high school. Always enjoy and appreciate your insight Plastic Sax. Thanks for doing it!

*The Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Album Review: OJT- New Standards for the Green Lady

I’m entirely in favor of the concept of new jazz standards.

Not only do I race to the exit every time a band launches into “Kansas City,” I don’t ever need to hear “In a Mellow Tone,” “The Girl From Ipanema” or “Satin Doll” again.

The intentions of the organ trio of Ken Lovern, Brian Baggett and Kevin Frazee on the new OJT album New Standards for the Green Lady Lounge are commendable. 

The playing and arrangements of the de facto house band of the Green Lady Lounge are also excellent.  Unfortunately, I don’t care for much of their repertoire.

I’ve already heard Lennon-McCartney’s “Eleanor Rigby,” Clapton-Gordon’s “Layla” and Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” far too many times to embrace OJT’s interpretations of the songs as my new jazz standards.

Less familiar material including the Grateful Dead’s “West LA Fadeaway” and a pair of relatively obscure Steely Dan tracks, consequently, are more appealing.  The freshest cover is a version of Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”

I prefer contemporary compositions to the classic rock favored by OJT. 

Mark Lowrey’s interpretation of the Republic Tigers' ”Buildings and Mountains” is exquisite.  Robert Glasper’s rendition of Jhené Aiko's 2014 hit ”The Worst” is also astounding. 

Recent material by Alabama Shakes, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean and Charlie Wilson offers similar promise as potential new jazz standards.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)