Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The details of the 2015 Charlie Parker Celebration have been unveiled.

*KC Jazz Lark celebrates the return of Eboni Fondren.

*The Johnson County Library posted an interview with Shades of Jade keyboardist Desmond Mason.

*The Pitch notes the jazz credentials of Victor & Penny.

*Chris Hazelton was featured in an installment of Millennial Society TV.

*Clint Ashlock lists his favorite albums at Inside Jazz Kansas City.

*Pat Metheny shared a brief preview of his forthcoming DVD and Blu Ray video.

*Karrin Allyson’s Many A New Day: Karrin Allyson Sings Rodgers & Hammerstein will be released on September 18.

*Demencha interviewed Keyon Harrold, a trumpeter from St. Louis who is a member of D’Angelo’s touring band.

*A video playlist of the entire Ensemble Ibérica “Music of Matt Otto” concert is available.

*A track from Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle’s new album was included on a Next Bop playlist.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Sarah Layton- I just realized that even though I live in Kansas City I've never gone to listen to live jazz. That's just terrible. I must rectify!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Kidz Bop

I saw a young couple get carded at the Piano Room last Monday.  That’s a rare sight at venues featuring live jazz (with the exception of the late-night party venue the Mutual Musicians Foundation).

The fresh-faced pair joined a coterie of other twenty-somethings who huddled near the band at the back of the space on Wornall Road.  The remainder of the two dozen customers of the Piano Room were older folks who monitored the Royals game on television or chatted with the sociable bartender. 

The kids were listening to their peers in the Waldo Jazz Collective, a group that has received short shrift at Plastic Sax.  Monday’s visit was the first time I had attended the group’s weekly session at the Piano Room.

Some members of the group occasionally appear in more prominent settings.  Baritone saxophonist Aryana Nemati, for instance, has performed for large audiences on the stages of the Gem and Midland theaters.

A set list that included compositions by Duke Ellington and James Brown reflects the band’s eclectic sensibility and the relaxed setting.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Now's the Time: Karla Harris

Drummer Todd Strait has put together a project that pays tribute to the 1961 album Nancy Wilson & Cannonball Adderly.  The group includes the Atlanta based vocalist Karla Harris, saxophonist Jim Mair, pianist Roger Wilder and bassist Bob Bowman.  The embedded video contains footage from a 2008 gig in Portland that features Strait and Harris.  The tribute shows take on place Friday, July 24, at Take Five Coffee + Bar and at the Green Lady Lounge on Saturday, July 25.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*A day after suggesting that change may be afoot at the American Jazz Museum, The Kansas City Star reported that Greg Carroll resigned from his position as the CEO of the institution.

*KC Jazz Lark offers context for the change at the American Jazz Museum.

*Shades of Jade have issued a single titled "That One".

*Ryan Heinlein interviewed Eddie Moore for Inside Jazz Kansas City.  Paul Roberts compares the jazz community in Kansas City to the atmospheres in other cities.  Stan Kessler selects ten of his favorite albums.

*The Pitch recommends a pair of Cannonball Adderley/Nancy Wilson tribute concerts.

*A portion of Ensemble Ibérica’s “Music of Matt Otto” concert was filmed by Steve Paul.

*Larry Carlton will perform at the Gem Theater on October 1.

*Addison Frei is among Joe Dimino’s recent interview subjects.

*Paul Shinn is included in Colorado radio station KUVO’s 30 Under 30 roundup of notable young artists.

*Chris Robinson questions the process of the Downbeat Critics Poll.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Dominique Sanders- need to get some swag back into jazz.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Album Review: Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle- Live In Kansas City

Live In Kansas City, the exceptional new album by Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle, was released in June as I was packing for a trip to South America.  While I included it among my Favorite Albums of 2015 (So Far) listing, the recording is worthy of further examination.

In a review of an Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle performance in January, I noted that that the group revives the 1970s sound of the Crusaders and Herbie Hancock. 

The new recording opens with a rendition of Joe Henderson’s 1970s classic “Black Narcissus.”  The second track is a version of the Hancock by-way-of Robert Glasper composition “Riot.” 

The quartet of keyboardist Moore, guitarist Adam Schlozman, electric bassist DeAndre Manning and drummer Pat Adams finds its own voice on the second and third portions of the album centerpiece “Kings and Queens.”  Several moments during the extended composition are transcendent. 

Rather than attempting to revive traditional Kansas City jazz, Moore and his bandmates demonstrate their affinity for the vital contemporary music of Kamasi Washington and Thundercat.

While it’s entirely instrumental, the extraordinarily elegant and remarkably intelligent Live In Kansas City implicitly expresses the fractious tenor of our times.

(Original image of “Cosmic Fonk”-themed street art in Chile by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Now's the Time: Silver: A Noir Ballet

Christian Hankel's Silver: A Noir Ballet opens at the Fringe Festival on Friday, July 17.  The production runs through Saturday, July 25.  Shay Estes is among the artists featured in the embedded video.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Recently at Inside Jazz Kansas City: John Kizilarmut encourages listeners “on the fence” about jazz to embrace the music.  Clint Ashlock comments on cell phone usage.  Ryan Heinlein praises Kansas City’s jazz scene and lists his favorite albums.

*The Pitch reports that New Jazz Order’s weekly sessions have moved to Broadway Kansas City.

*KCUR interviewed Lisa Henry about an upcoming performance piece titled "Dear White People: The Racism Monologues Set to Music."

*Nicholas Payton performed with the Dave Matthews Band at Cricket Wireless Amphitheater on Tuesday.  The Kansas City Star reviewed the concert.

*Bram Wijnands was featured in an extended KCUR profile.

*The Pitch spotlights a recording of 12th Street Jump at Broadway Kansas City.

*Bill Frisell will perform at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on February 21, 2016.  Diana Krall will return to the Midland theater on November 21.

*The ARC label offers a recapitulation of its concert series at the Blue Room.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Libby Hanssen- New Jazz Order sounds like they've been playing at The Broadway Kansas City for years.

*From a press release: KC Jazz meets Broadway as Tim Whitmer presents the Fifth Annual July Jazz Jam at Community Christian Church. The Wild Women of Kansas City, featuring Millie Edwards, Lori Tucker and Geneva Price, join the always amazing Tim Whitmer and The KC Jazz All-Stars- Jurgen Welge, James Albright, Rod Fleeman and Jim Mair,- for an evening of Broadway standards and jazz classics... Sunday, July 26, 2015, 7 p.m. at Community Christian ChurchTickets are available at for $10/advance or $15/door.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Born Again on Broadway

The live music venue at 3601 Broadway is the source of the worst news and the best news on Kansas City’s jazz scene in the first half of 2015.

The Broadway Jazz Club was temporarily shuttered about 17 months after it opened. 

The awful news was offset by the enormously encouraging report that John Scott, the proprietor of the Green Lady Lounge jazz club, would operate an overhauled version of the room.

My visit to the revamped location at 3601 Broadway last Thursday revealed welcome improvements. 

Now named Broadway Kansas City, the venue offered expert service.  The dim lighting that sets the mood at the Green Lady Lounge is now matched by the darkness at Broadway Kansas City.  I had to use the flashlight on my phone to ascertain the denominations of the bills in my wallet. 

About 20 people took in a performance by vocalist Molly Hammer and Ken Lovern.  The duo’s repertoire was heavy on Dinah Washington material and also included renditions of “Never Will I Marry” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”

Lovern is best known as the funky jazz organist for OJT.  He played piano in a cabaret setting on Thursday.  Hammer’s use of an electronic tablet- presumably as a prompt for lyrics- was slightly off-putting.  

One thing that hasn’t changed at Broadway Kansas City is the impressive sound system.  The sound is just as rich and crisp in the back of the room as it is a few feet from the stage.

I’m looking forward to taking advantage of the burgers and beer special* at Broadway Kansas City during my next visit.

*Scott has verified that the $14.95 deal is available “Tuesday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 11 pm.”

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Now's the Time: Sumi Tonooki

ARC Label Week at the Blue Room concludes Saturday, July 11, with a performance by the ARC Founders Quintet.  The group includes record label partners Chris Burnett, Erica Lindsay and Sumi Tonooki.  The embedded video features a compelling solo piece by Tonooki.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Plastic Sax is pleased to unveil the unveil the lineup of the 2015 edition of the Prairie Village Jazz Festival.  The September 12 event will be headlined by the pairing of the McFadden Brothers and the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra.  Angela Hagenbach, Matt Kane and the Kansas City Generations Sextet, Horacescope, Tyrone Clark and True Dig, the Peter Schlamb Quartet and the Shawnee Mission East Blue Knights round out the lineup.  Set times, complete personnel listings and details about the price of admission are at the conclusion of this post.

*The initial offerings at the new site Inside Jazz Kansas City include essays by Michael Shults on jazz pedagogy, Stan Kessler on versatility and Clint Ashlock on friendship.

*KC Jazz Lark documents a performance by the trio of Ben Allison, Steve Cardenas and Brian Steever at the Blue Room.

*The AM Trio was featured on KCUR’s weekly Local Listen segment.

*ARC Week at the Blue Room was highlighted by Joe Klopus. The Pitch also recommends the concert series.

*Ink notes the return of Krystle Warren.

*Pat Metheny: The Unity Sessions will be released on DVD and Blu Ray on September 18.

*The Kansas City Star reports on a new study that examines the link between the Crossroads and Jazz districts.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Gaslight Grill- We have a few tables available for tonight's performance by The New Red Onion Jazz Babies! Call 913-897-3540 to make reservations!

*Comment o' the Week: Gary- It was nice of Charlie Watts to remind the city of its jazz heritage. I wonder if that many of the concert-goers realized that.

*The Prairie Village Jazz Festival
Saturday, September 12, 2015
$5 Admission (18 years of age and under, free)

2:30 – 3:00 p.m. Shawnee Mission East Blue Knights
This band’s rich tradition includes being named a finalist in the Essentially Ellington Jazz Band Competition, with an invitation to perform in Lincoln Center.
3:20 – 4:10 p.m. Peter Schlamb Quartet
Peter Schlamb, vibraphone, Hermon Mehari, trumpet, Karl McComas-Reichl, bass, John Kizilarmut, drums
These young Kansas City musicians have toured the Midwest performing original compositions and be-bop standards behind the unique voicing of trumpet and vibes.
4:30 – 5:20 p.m. Tyrone Clark and True Dig
Tyrone Clark, bass, Lisa Henry, vocals, Charles Williams, piano, Charles Gatschet, guitar, Michael Warren, drums
Tyrone played bass with both of last year’s headline acts. This year he brings his own stellar ensemble, including vocalist Lisa Henry.
5:40 – 6:30 p.m. Horacescope
Stan Kessler, trumpet, David Chael, saxophone, Roger Wilder, piano, James Albright, bass, Sam Wisman, drums
With a group of Kansas City jazz masters led by trumpeter Stan Kessler, Horacescope plays the music of noted pianist and composer Horace Silver.
6:50 – 7:40 p.m. Matt Kane and the Kansas City Generations Sextet
Matt Kane, drums, Michael Shults, alto saxophone, Steve Lambert, tenor saxophone and flute, Hermon Mehari, trumpet, Andrew Ouellette, piano, Ben Leifer, bass
Matt Kane saw the incredible young talent dominating KC jazz today and gathered some of the best into his Generations Sextet. Their new CD presents their take on compositions by Pat Metheny, Bobby Watson and Ahmad Alaadeen. This show is their exclusive Kansas City engagement.
8:00 – 8:55 p.m. Angela Hagenbach
Angela Hagenbach, vocals, Roger Wilder, piano, Danny Embrey, guitar, Zach Beeson, bass, Doug Auwarter, drums
Angela Hagenbach’s magnificent voice has been a Kansas City favorite for over two decades. It’s about time we showcase her in this festival!
9:15 – 10:30 p.m. The McFadden Brothers with The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra
Lonnie and Ronnie McFadden, tap dancers, with The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra directed by Clint Ashlock
The tap dancing McFadden Brothers, a Kansas City treasure, have toured with the Count Basie Orchestra. The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra is KC’s premiere big band, performing a subscription series at The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. We put the McFaddens and the Orchestra together for a festival finale that promises to be loaded with energy and wildly fun, no subscription necessary.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Grading the 2015-16 Folly and Gem Seasons

While I was thrilled to serve as the host of a pre-concert talk at the Folly Theater in March, the honor hasn’t softened my unflinching analysis in this installment of Plastic Sax’s annual examination of the bookings at the Folly Jazz Series and the American Jazz Museum’s Jammin’ at the Gem concerts.

Bobby Watson Quartet featuring Curtis Lundy
Folly Theater, September 18
Bobby Watson is the Moses of Kansas City’s current jazz scene.  Plastic Sax’s Person of the Decade, Watson is a monumental artist and invaluable educator.
Grade: A

Julian Lage Trio
Folly Theater, November 21
My appreciation of Julian Lage’s appearance at the sorely missed Jazz Winterlude festival in 2013 was tempered by the disgruntled murmurings of audience members who didn’t care for Lage’s adventurous explorations.  His concert at the Folly Theater should attract more attentive listeners. 
Grade: A-

Julian Vaughan
Gem Theater, December 12
The Kansas City smooth jazz bassist Julian Vaughn limits his local shows to prestigious benefit concerts, large theaters and expansive festivals.  The unconventional tactic seems to be working.  Plastic Sax reviewed Vaughn's new album in April.
Grade: B

David Benoit Christmas Tribute to Charlie Brown
Folly Theater, December 18
David Benoit was a star in the smooth jazz radio era.  While his light and melodic approach makes him a logical interpreter of Vince Guaraldi’s seasonal compositions, it’s difficult to muster much enthusiasm for this booking.
Grade: C

Kim Waters
Gem Theater, February 13
Kim Waters performs a sultry variation on the music associated with Kenny G.  Sweet and Sexy, the title of the saxophonist’s 2014 album, encapsulates Waters’ appeal.  The February 13 booking makes sense as a valentine-themed event.
Grade: C+

Alicia Olatuja
Folly Theater, March 11
Like a young Oleta Adams, the St. Louis native Alicia Olatuja specializes in tasteful, jazz-informed pop.  The appearance by this year’s “Spotlight Artist” in the Folly series promises to be exceedingly pleasant.
Grade: B

Patti Austin
Gem Theater, March 26
I’ve always dug Patti Austin.  Once a genteel R&B vocalist, Austin has gracefully shifted to jazz-tinged fare.  She released a fine tribute to Ella Fitzgerald in 2012.
Grade: B

Christian McBride Trio
Folly Theater, April 9
While I’d prefer a performance by Christian McBride in a context other than an acoustic trio, April's gig should serve as a master class in tasteful swing.  (Docked a notch because McBride seems to perform in the area every year.)
Grade: B

The Bad Plus Joshua Redman
Gem Theater, April 16
The measly turnout for The Bad Plus’ 2010 concert at the Folly Theater was one of the most disappointing debacles in recent years.  A dearth of area bookings featuring other forward-thinking acts ensued.  The Bad Plus’ new album with the exciting saxophonist Joshua Redman is solid.
Grade: A

Dee Dee Bridgewater & Irvin Mayfield with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
Folly Theater, May 21
The controversy surrounding Irvin Mayfield may have died down by the time the final concert in the Folly’s series transpires.   Dee Dee Bridgewater’s African-themed show at the Gem Theater in 2007 is one of the best concerts I’ve witnessed.
Grade: B+

The McFadden Brothers & Ida McBeth
Gem Theater, May 21
The McFadden Brothers may be Kansas City’s most undervalued act.  The duo’s Las Vegas-style razzle-dazzle is charming.  Ida McBeth is a local institution.  Even though both artists are fixtures on local entertainment calendars, the musicians are deserving of a “Lifetime Achievement Award Concert."
Grade: B

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Now's the Time: Ben Allison and Steve Cardenas

Several of the world’s most exciting jazz musicians will converge on Iowa City this weekend.  Rudresh Mahanthappa, Dave Douglas, Julian Lage and Becca Stevens are slated to perform at the Iowa City Jazz Festival.  Locally based jazz fans not making the 300-mile trip won’t be entirely left out.  Ben Allison and Steve Cardenas are playing at Take Five Coffee + Bar on Thursday, July 2, and at the Blue Room on Friday, July 3, before they share a stage with Charles Lloyd in Iowa City on Saturday.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joe Klopus notes the homecoming of Steve Cardenas in his latest column.  The Pitch also touts Cardenas’ shows at Take Five Coffee and the Blue Room.

*Charlie Watts visited the American Jazz Museum.

*Joe Dimino’s latest interview subjects include Matt Carrillo and Steve Rigazzi.

*Ensemble Ibérica shared insights into their rehearsal sessions for a concert featuring the music of Matt Otto.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Michael Shults- Tim Ries from the Rolling Stones sat in with us last night. So that was neat. (photo)

*From a press release: The American Jazz Museum in partnership with the ARC recording label will present two free master classes in the Blue Room jazz club on Tuesday, July 7, 2015 from 6-9pm. Admission is free and open to the public. Jazz pianist, composer and ARC cofounder, Sumi Tonooka will present an hour master class. Jazz percussionist, composer and ARC recording artist, Jeff “Siege” Siegel will also present an hour master class. There will be opportunity for Q and A sessions, as well as interacting with the artists in this context.

*From Take Five Coffee + Bar: Thursday, July 2, 7pm:  Steve Cardenas and Ben Allison Trio: It's a tremendous pleasure to welcome Kansas City native guitarist Steve Cardenas back to Take Five, and we're delighted that he's bringing with him superlative bassist Ben Allison for this show. Steve has risen in the jazz world to claim a spot as one of the most influential guitarists working today… (w)ith drummer Brian Steever… $10 cover.  Friday, July 3, 8pm:  Alyssa Murray's AM Trio: Pianist and vocalist Alyssa Murray brings her free-ranging and versatile sense of fun to the Take Five stage along with bassist Joel Stratton and drummer Josh Blythe for a mix of originals and standards. $5 cover.  Saturday, July 4: No music, closed early for Independence Day.  Sunday, July 5, 10am - 2pm:  Sunday Jazz Brunch, Bob Bowman and Friends: No cover.

*The Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated for the new month.

(Original image of the Arrowhead Stadium parking lot at Saturday’s Karl Denson and Tim Ries concert by Plastic Sax.)