Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Hermon Mehari spoke to Tim Finn about his victory at a trumpet competition in Texas.

*A large swathe of Kansas City’s jazz community will receive new grants from ArtsKC.

*Sam Mellinger comments on the Kansas City Royals’ new baseball youth academy in the Jazz District.  KC Jazz Lark speculates that the project could lead to a brighter future for the area.

*The Kansas City Star reports that four people were shot in the Jazz District early Sunday morning.

*The Kansas City Star reviewed Zappa Plays Zappa’s concert at Crossroads KC.

*Joe Dimino’s recent interview subjects include Ron Miles.

*Phil Woods, one of Charlie Parker’s most devoted acolytes, has died.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Tony Tixier- Playing a house concert with #Diverse on a beautiful lawn under the #lunareclipse @kctrumpeter (photo)

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- Glad to have you back. Thrash metal and hip hop ain't got nothing on melodic bop!

*From a press release: The vivacious vocals of Lori Tucker performing with Tim Whitmer & The Consort Band, Wednesday, October 7, 2015, at Unity Temple on the Plaza.  Tickets at the door only $7.00.  The Pitch recommended the concert.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Album Review- Many a New Day: Karrin Allyson Sings Rodgers and Hammerstein

Karrin Allyson performed a concert of adult pop at the Folly Theater ten months ago.  I expected her next release to sound like James Taylor.  Instead, she resembles Marilyn Maye on the sophisticated cabaret album Many a New Day: Karrin Allyson Sings Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Backed by pianist Kenny Barron and bassist John Patitucci, Allyson sings material from The King and I, Oklahoma, The Sound of Music and South Pacific.

Allyson makes it clear that she has no intention of playing it straight on the seemingly unpromising album opener “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’”.  Her blues reading of the composition that’s often subject to cornball interpretations demonstrates Allyson’s aversion to cliches.  All 14 tracks contain similarly unconventional twists. 

Effortlessly sensuous and wise without seeming sanctimonious, Allyson is never overshadowed by the impeccable work of Barron and Patitucci.  Many a New Day: Karrin Allyson Sings Rodgers and Hammerstein is an entirely welcome surprise.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Now's the Time: Larry Carlton

It must not be the hair.  The awe-inspiring coiffure Larry Carlton sports in the embedded clip is long gone, but the guitarist is still capable of playing like a man possessed.  Best known for his session work for artists including Michael Jackson and Steely Dan, Carlton appears at the Gem Theater on Thursday, October 1.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Hermon Mehari won the 2015 Carmine Caruso International Trumpet Solo Competition in Huntsville, Texas.

*Bobby Watson was interviewed on a morning television program.

*The Pitch recommends a gig led by Will Matthews.

*The complete schedule of the 18th & Vine Jazz & Blues Festival has been posted.

*A new documentary about Mary Lou Williams inspires an extensive essay about the artist in The New Yorker.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Brian Scarborough- Always love rehearsing and playing with the People's Liberation Big Band of Greater KC. Happy to be playing with them moving forward #kcjazz

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Concert Review: The Bobby Watson Quartet at the Folly Theater

I didn’t know what I’d been missing.

Even though I hear Bobby Watson perform a few times every year, I was stunned by what transpired at the Folly Theater on Friday.

The heights that Watson is capable of reaching when he’s backed by his touring band in a proper listening environment exceeded my abundant expectations.  An audience of more than 350 witnessed the musically exuberant and profoundly spiritual outing by the man that was named the Plastic Sax Person of the Decade in 2009.

Joe Klopus got it right in his preview of the concert.  The vast majority of Watson’s appearances in Kansas City aren’t on his terms.

Watson frequently sits in on other musicians’ sets.  In recent years he’s been featured at the Prairie Village Jazz Festival, the Jazz in the Woods festival and in a concert with the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra.  He also occasionally headlines at the Blue Room. 

Until Saturday, however, I failed to grasp the degree to which those performances were compromised.  With his band of pianist Richard Johnson, bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Eric Kennedy, Watson was able to properly display the breadth of his vision in his hometown for the first time in years.

Watson clearly savored his role as the featured attraction at the Folly Theater.  He noted that until Friday that he hadn’t headlined a show at the historic venue since he returned to Kansas City approximately 15 years ago.  He made the most of it. 

The set list of Watson’s best known material ranged from “Appointment In Milano” to material from the 2013 album Check Cashing Day.  The set list was loaded with Watson classics including “Wheel Within a Wheel,” “Karita,” “Love Remains,” “Lemoncello” and “In Case You Missed It.”  The band’s interplay was faultless.

A couple minor blemishes precluded perfection.  Watson rightfully cringed when many in the audience tittered at the album title of Check Cashing Day.  There’s nothing funny about it.  The concept album is a lamentation of the unfulfilled promise of the civil rights movement.  And a slight bass boom occasionally marred the otherwise excellent sound.

The concert revived my lagging interest in mainstream jazz.  During the past several months I’d begun to think that contemporary renditions of the form may never again excite me.  Watson and his bandmates proved that melodic bop performed at a high level remains capable of sending me over the moon.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Now's the Time: Mark Lowrey

Mark Lowrey has a way with pop, rock and folk material.  He interprets Leonard Cohen’s “One of Us Cannot Be Wrong” in the embedded video.  The pianist performs with a trio at Broadway Kansas City on Saturday, September 19 and at the Majestic on Thursday, September 24.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*KC Jazz Lark reports on the ongoing struggles of Broadway Kansas City.

*Bobby Watson’s concert at the Folly Theater was previewed by The Kansas City Star and The Pitch.

*The Prairie Village Post documented the Prairie Village Jazz Festival.

*Shades of Jade was interviewed by a representative of the Johnson County Library.

*The Pitch reports that Major League Baseball may invest in the Jazz District.

*Karrin Allyson was a guest on KCUR’s Up To Date program.

*Hommage a Eberhard Weber was released last week.  Pat Metheny’s contribution to the project has received a great deal of attention.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Jerry Wilkinson- Digging on how I can sit in my back yard in front of a fire and hear the Prairie Village Jazz Fest in the distance…….

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Concert Review: True Dig at the Prairie Village Jazz Festival

“You couldn't ask for a more blessed day,” Tyrone Clark said during True Dig’s set at the Prairie Village Jazz Festival on Saturday afternoon.

He was right.  The warm sunshine and cool breeze seemed heaven-sent.  The music performed by True Dig- bandleader and bassist Clark, vocalist Lisa Henry, pianist Charles Williams, guitarist Charles Gatschet and drummer Michael Warren- suited the mild setting. 

The ensemble’s R&B-inflected jazz resembled the genial 1970s sound of the Crusaders and Bobbi Humphrey.  Sold by the charismatic Henry, the party songs “Fly Boy” and “Midwest Girls” provided the highlights of True Dig’s enjoyable outing.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Now's the Time: The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra

The unseemly exodus that occurred during Joe Lovano’s performance with headliner Deborah Brown at the Prairie Village Jazz Festival last year is unlikely to be repeated on Saturday, September 12.  The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra and the McFadden Brothers- the event’s co-headliners- are proven audience pleasers.  The Prairie Village Post published a festival ”primer”.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Kansas City Star and The Pitch previewed the Prairie Village Jazz Festival. 

*Logan Richardson’s new album Shift will be released in Japan in October.

*KSHB posted a trailer for its “Kansas City & All That Jazz” documentary.

*Andrew Stinson selected ten desert island discs.

*Demencha reviewed Shades of Jade’s single “That One.”

*Downbeat reviewed Karrin Allyson’s new album.

*Joe Dimino’s most recent interviews include a chat with Alyssa Murray.

*The Detroit News and The Detroit Free Press lauded Pat Metheny’s headlining appearance at the Detroit Jazz Festival.

*Phil Woods bemoaned a lack of interest in his version of the “Charlie Parker With Strings” sessions in advance of his final live performance.

*A four-minute video features Joe Lovano, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Myra Melford and Esperanza Spalding performing at New York’s Charlie Parker Jazz Festival.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Valorie J Wells- @HistoricKC Miss Anita Dixon you did a great job on All That Jazz show. Thank you for keeping the Torch for KC Jazz

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Album Review: Michael Pagán- The Ottawa Sessions

I’m a slow learner.  The prospect of a new Michael Pagán album rarely makes me giddy, but I’m invariably floored by the high quality of each release by the pianist, composer and bandleader.

The Ottawa Sessions is no different.  In fact, it may be Pagán’s best effort to date.

The recording featuring Pagán, Bob Bowman and Brian Steever isn’t just another homage to the Bill Evans Trio.  In pairing of the dean of Kansas City jazz bassists with a rambunctious young drummer, Pagán has crafted  an energetic piano trio album that’s loaded with surprises. 

Not a single moment of the thirteen-minute reading of “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise” is redundant.  Rather than resembling the deferential background murmurings of a cocktail lounge trio, the men play with brash assertiveness.  A rollicking reading of “Lullaby of the Leaves” and the playful “Kalamara Rex” are just as fun.

In hindsight, it should have been immediately apparent that The Ottawa Sessions would be an essential document of Kansas City’s mainstream jazz scene.  I’ll be ready next time.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, September 4, 2015

Now's the Time: Peter Martin

Peter Martin is an accomplished pianist with an impressive discography.  He’s also inspired one of the funniest jazz memes of the past year.  Martin’s “2-minute jazz” instructional videos led to a hilarious series of "one-minute jazz” parodies.  Simon performs at the Blue Room on Wednesday, September 9.  The Jackie Allen Quintet is also on the bill.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Almost 200 people- dozens of musicians and at least 20 members of the media among them- attended the celebration of Charlie Parker’s birthday at Lincoln Cemetery on Saturday.  The Kansas City Star shot video.  KCUR created an audio report (and a photo with a familiar byline).  Drone footage offers a unique perspective.

*KC Jazz Lark reveals the behind-the-scenes process of booking the Prairie Village Jazz Festival.

*Shades of Jade’s single “That One” was reviewed by Brian Clifton of Mills Record Company.

*America Patton spoke to The Kansas City Star about a Quindaro-related musical project. 

*Motema Music created a promotional video for Karrin Allyson’s forthcoming Many A New Day: Karrin Allyson Sings Rodgers & Hammerstein album.

*Clint Ashlock asks ”Why Do We Do This?”

*Danny Alexander reviewed Victor & Penny and Their Loose Change Orchestra's "Live at the Living Room Theatre" for KCUR.

*A blogger notes the disbursement of an impeccable jazz collection.

*Harold O’Neal created a static video of his riffing on “Giant Steps.”

*Tweet o’ the Week: Steve Paul- Fire's burning and people are gathering for 21 Sax salute for Charlie Parker birthday. Lincoln Cemetery, #KC #jazz

*From a press release: On Tuesday, September 8th, at 9 p.m., KSHB-TV will present “Kansas City & All That Jazz,” a 60 minute documentary highlighting Kansas City’s rich and unique jazz history. The beginning of jazz in Kansas City can be traced back nearly a century ago to the 18th & Vine Jazz District and to the headquarters of The Mutual Musicians Foundation… The epicenter of jazz in our town can be traced back to that old building, now operated by the Mutual Musicians Foundation.  Few people in Kansas City know of its existence today.  But the buildings’ cultural and historic impact and value on the outskirts of the 18th & Vine Jazz District cannot be measured… ”Kansas City & All That Jazz” uses it as the centerpiece to explore our rich history of jazz that is uniquely ours.

*The Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)