Sunday, August 30, 2015


While at the celebration of Charlie Parker’s 95th birthday in Lincoln Cemetery yesterday, I forgot to ask Bird’s daughter Kim if she had any further recollections of the building pictured above.  I made a pilgrimage to Parker’s final home while in New York earlier this year.  Unlike most of his residences in the Kansas City area, the building in a moneyed part of Manhattan is well-preserved.

(Original images by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Now's the Time: Montez Coleman

Montez Coleman will lead a band at the Blue Room on Friday, August 28.  He supports trumpeter Roy Hargrove in the embedded video.  The drummer from St. Louis has also collaborated with Kansas City’s Ahmad Alaadeen, Luqman Hamza and Bobby Watson.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Jazz scholar Scott DeVeaux was a guest on KCUR’s “Central Standard.”

*Joe Klopus runs down this week’s Charlie Parker Celebration events.

*The presence of Clay Jenkins at this year’s Charlie Parker Celebration is endorsed by KC Jazz Lark.

*The Pitch interviewed Ryan Heinlein and previewed a show by his Kansas City Bone Company.

*The annual visit of Kim Parker is noted in a television report.

*Pat Metheny created an extended promotional video for his upcoming release.

*Joe Dimino’s recent interviews include a chat with Joanne Weaver.

*Nate Chinen focused on performances by bands led by Joe Lovano, Myra Melford and Rudresh Mahanthappa in a review of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in New York.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Eldar- 6 years ago today I released the album "Virtue." Time flies! I was 21 years old when I recorded it - I'm proud of it.

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- It's an interesting question. I don't have an answer either but I would rather listen to Bird than Lovano anytime. For me the Savoy and Dial recordings are timeless and exciting. Despite his obvious talent and creativity, I just don't enjoy Lovano's work as much.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Parker Party Pooper

I didn’t expect anything to come of the provocative question I scribbled on a notecard at the first event of this year’s Charlie Parker Celebration last Thursday.  At best, I hoped panel moderator Bill McKemy would privately smirk at its impertinence.

Yet McKemy bravely selected my contribution as the final question posed at a discussion titled “Bop Lives” in the foyer of the American Jazz Museum:

“When the overwhelming majority of people don’t know about brilliant contemporary players like Miguel Zenón, Rudresh Mahanthappa or Joe Lovano, why should they care about Charlie Parker?”

The panel consisting of author and radio personality Chuck Haddix, trumpeter Clay Jenkins and jazz scholar Scott DeVeaux sat in stunned silence for several seconds after the question was posed.  A few of the 75 people at Thursday’s function- less than ten were under the age of 30- gasped at its insolence.

Haddix eventually responded with a declaration about the importance of jazz radio programming.  DeVeaux suggested that education was the key to helping the public appreciate Parker.  Jenkins said nothing.

I don’t have an adequate answer either- the question was rhetorical. 

The three saxophonists I cited recently recorded or performed stellar Parker tributes.  Their art has been roundly ignored outside of the tiny jazz echo chamber.  Witnessing mildly panicked concertgoers rush from the grounds of the Prairie Village Jazz Festival as Lovano played Parker in 2014 was a clear indication that exposure isn’t the solution.

I could formulate an optimistic response based on Kendrick Lamar’s magnificent To Pimp a Butterfly, but making the artistic link between Parker and the rapper would be a stretch.

The efforts of the organizers of the Charlie Parker Celebration are noble.   Yet until his most vital disciples attain meaningful congregations, Parker’s place in popular culture will continue to fade. 

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Now's the Time: Clay Jenkins

Although his site insists that he's "one of the most sought after jazz trumpeters in the country today," I was unfamiliar with Clay Jenkins until this week.  He's performed with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, the Harry James Orchestra and the Count Basie Orchestra.  Jenkins is the American Jazz Museum’s Artist in Residence for the second annual Charlie Parker Celebration that began last night.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joe Klopus and Larry Kopitnik assess this year’s Charlie Parker Celebration.

*John Scott of the Green Lady Lounge and Broadway Kansas City was a guest on an episode of KCUR’s Central Standard.

*KC Jazz Lark documents the last two nights of the second incarnation of Take Five Coffee + Bar.

*Karrin Allyson will appear in a recording of 12th Street Jump  at Broadway Kansas City on September 10.

*Lonnie McFadden was featured on KCUR’s weekly Local Listen segment.

*Ralph Reid has been named as the interim CEO of the American Jazz Museum.

*Eldar Djangirov is soliciting financial support for his videos.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Hotel Phillips- The #CharlieParkerCelebration comes to 12Baltimore this Saturday w/ local Stan Kessler & guest Clay Jenkins 8-11pm.

*Comment o’ the Week: John Scott- We respect and appreciate Shades of Jade. You're good for Kansas City and the scene and we look forward to seeing you continue to grow and gain even more national recognition. Kansas City loves you and Green Lady loves you. Anonymous posting may be appropriate if one fears retribution when "speaking truth to power" but when used to needlessly insult fellow human beings it's cowardly, unkind and so often and in this case untrue. We all make mistakes and are sometimes too harsh but Anonymous poster you can make amends by simply removing your post.

*From Mark Lewis Music: ”It’s no accident that Mark Lewis will be in Kansas City on Charlie Parker’s birthday. That’s why he comes to Kansas City then… Mark Lewis grew up in the Northwest USA then moved to the Netherlands for many years to perform, teach and record music. He also lived in San Francisco for a few years and recorded a top 40 jazz album after auditioning for Stan Getz to land a record deal. He often subbed for Stan Getz after that.”  The Seattle based saxophonist will perform with Bram Wijnands at the Majestic on Friday, August 28 and Saturday, August 29.

*From a press release: The fall season of the Johnson County Community College Jazz Recital Series will kick off Tuesday, Sept. 22, with a group called the Tyrone Clark 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, from Sept. 22 through Nov. 3. The first five will take place in the Carlsen Center’s Polsky Theatre; the last two will take place in the Carlsen Center’s Recital Hall. Here's the lineup: Sept. 22: Tyrone Clark Trio, Sept. 29 Gerald Spaits, bass, Harry Miller, piano; Oct. 6: Ron Carlson, guitar, John Kizilarmut, vibraphone; Oct. 13: Michael Pagan, piano; Oct. 20: Ryan Lee Trio; Oct. 27: Kelley Gant Group; Nov. 3: Paul Roberts Trio.  The series is sponsored by the JCCC Music and Theatre departments. Seating is available on a first-come, first-seated basis.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Album Review: Hmph!- Headrush

Pat Metheny’s noisy Zero Tolerance For Silence is one of the most challenging albums of the 1990s. 

I may not be the only person who continues to listen to the abrasive project for pleasure.  Headrush, the debut album by Kansas City’s Hmph!, is a similarly corrosive guitar-based freakout. 

Hmph! may well be a math-rock band rather than a jazz group.  Whatever label is applied to the approach, it’s clear that Hmph and the like-minded Jorge Arana Trio are two of the most interesting improvisatory instrumental ensembles in Kansas City.

Hmph! performs Friday, August 21, at Harlings and Wednesday, August 26, at Mills Record Company.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Now's the Time: Alex Abramovitz

Alex Abramovitz and His Swing’n Kansas City Jazz Band will mark the release the new album “Ripe Off the Vine” at Broadway Kansas City on Saturday, August 15.  The retro-swing ensemble is best known for its brunch performances at the Phoenix. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

 *The Topeka Capital Journal reports that the 2015-16 season of the Topeka Jazz Concert Series (formerly the Topeka Jazz Workshop) includes an appearance by Karrin Allyson.

*A television station produced a glowing feature about the young saxophonist Houston Smith.

*The Pitch touts the final show at the second incarnation of Take Five Coffee + Bar.

*Eddie Moore was interviewed by a representative of KTBG.

*KC Jazz Lark commemorates his blog’s sixth anniversary with a set of photos.

*Paul Roberts lists his favorite albums.

*Marilyn Maye will perform seven shows at the Quality Hill Playhouse in September.

*Harold O’Neal’s new highlight reel includes his work on tracks for artists including Murs, Busta Rhymes and Angelique Kidjo.

*The members of a touring rock band documents their experiences in the Jazz District and at the Green Lady Lounge.  (The relevant portion of their adventure begins at around the 5:30 mark.)

*”Wavelength” is Carol Duboc’s latest music video.

*Mark Guiliana is among Joe Dimino’s recent interview subjects.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Brett Jackson- Thank you, wristband. Your approval means the world to me. #vip @ Green Lady Lounge (photo)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Taking Stock at Take Five Coffee + Bar

“Coffee is coffee and food is food but this is something different,” Lori Chandler said Friday at Take Five Coffee + Bar.  “It's the community that makes all of this worth it.”

Chandler was speaking from the stage of her venue in Overland Park.  Stan Kessler, the evening’s bandleader, had requested that Chandler and her husband Doug stand with him as he offered his gratitude to the couple for creating the area’s best jazz listening room. 

As previously reported, Take Five will close after a performance on August 15.

Chandler encouraged the members of the audience of about 50 to continue to support the musicians she’s featured at two incarnations of Take Five since 2010. 

“My plea to you guys is to find out where they're playing and go listen,” Chandler said. 

Finding appealing options will be more difficult.  In addition to providing an excellent environment and a superb sound field, Take Five boasted a notably adventurous calendar.  It’s unclear if other spaces will be willing to take chances on left-of-center touring acts like Trio M and Avishai Cohen.

I almost certainly wasn’t the only person present Friday who opted for a performance by a band billed as the Kessler-Embrey Conspiracy at least partially because the show was taking place in a room where conservations wouldn’t overwhelm the music.

The quartet of trumpeter Kessler, guitarist Danny Embrey, bassist Jeff Harshbarger and drummer Todd Strait played surprisingly reserved mainstream jazz during its first set.

Chandler has indicated that she intends to reopen Take Five at a different location.  Until then, Kessler and his band mates may be challenged to find equally attentive audiences in comparably accommodating rooms.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Now's the Time: Trombone Shorty

When the Power & Light District was nearing completion about eight years ago, jazz booster Ed Fenner optimistically lobbied for a regular series of jazz concerts on the KC Live stage.  Fenner died in 2008.  While big names in R&B, rock and country perform on the stage almost every week during the summer months, a jazz series never came about.  Fenner probably didn’t have the likes of the funk/rock/jazz crossover star Trombone Shorty in mind during his efforts, but I’ll think of him if I make it to the free performance by the exciting New Orleans bandleader in the Power & Light District on Friday, August 7. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Doug and Lori Chandler, Plastic Sax's People of the Year in 2013, have announced that Take Five Coffee + Bar will close following a performance on August 15.  A portion of their statement is at the bottom of this post.   The Pitch, The Kansas City Star and KCUR reported on the closure.   Clint Ashlock and KC Jazz Lark comment on the disappointing news.

*The headliners of the American Jazz Museum’s 18th & Vine Jazz & Blues Festival on October 10 are the Family Stone, Conrad Herwig, Popa Chubby and Dwele.

*The Ottawa Sessions, a piano trio album featuring Michael Pagán, Bob Bowman and Brian Steever, is available now.

*An editorial in The Kansas City Star suggests that the American Jazz Museum “should play a more vital and inspiring role in the city than it has.”

*The Pitch touts a gig by Peter Schlamb’s Electric Tinks.

*The Jorge Arana Trio created a 30-second trailer for its forthcoming album.

*Bobby Watson performed the National Anthem at a public ceremony last week.

*The lineup of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival (in New York) includes the Oliver Lake Big Band, Andy Bey, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Myra Melford.

*Tweet o’ the Week: HNIC… again- He must be trying to get ideas for his side chick cause I'm not going to a jazz lounge.

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- To each his own. I currently prefer any type of replication of 1955-era swing to a flawed version of jazz-informed R&B!

*The Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated.

*From Take Five Coffee + Bar: We are very sad to have to make this announcement, but Take Five is going to be taking an indefinite “set break” (in other words, we’re closing our doors) effective August 15… Thank you all for participating in the creation of a community unlike any other in this part of the city… Thank you again to those who supported us, cheered us on, became regulars, brought others to be regulars, sat breathless in front of Trio M, Bobby Watson, Avishai Cohen and the immense talent of our Kansas City jazz scene.  We are proud of what we accomplished, and there’s more to be done.  We’re just Taking Five.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Concert Review: Shades of Jade at Coda

Many respectable members of Kansas City’s jazz community would insist that the music I heard at Coda on Saturday wasn’t jazz.  Maybe they’re right.  Yet I’d rather hear Shades of Jade’s version of soul than a musty recreation of the music of yesteryear. 

I’m excited by the current output of José James, Bilal and Esperanza Spalding’s Emily’s D+Evolution project.  Most mainstream jazz that reverently hews to tradition seems less than inspiring in 2015.

That’s partly why Shades of Jade’s melodic original compositions and covers of material by the likes of Musiq Soulchild struck me as meaningful on Saturday in spite of the absence of an audience.  I had the band almost completely to myself.  The sextet presumably played to a packed house at Phoenix Fest later that night.

Shades of Jade wasn’t perfect.  When I told bandleader Josh Williams at the break that he and keyboardist Desmond Mason seemed to be pushing toward jazz while the other four members of the group were pulling toward R&B, he agreed that the new lineup hadn’t completely coalesced.

The two vocalists seemed to have Lauryn Hill in mind as they sang while Williams and Mason may have been going for the sound of D’Angelo’s band.  Jazz chops occasionally clashed with a more regimented sensibility. 

I didn’t mind.  I currently prefer a flawed version of jazz-informed R&B to a perfect replication of 1955-era swing.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Now's the Time: Kirk Whalum

Kirk Whalum is the headliner of Awesome Jazzy Affair at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on Thursday, August 6.  The concert benefits Awesome Ambitions.  The saxophonist released the fourth volume of his Gospel According to Jazz series in March.