Friday, April 29, 2016

Now's the Time: Krystle Warren

Krystle Warren is returning to her hometown of Kansas City for a pair of highly anticipated concerts.  The jazz/folk/rock artist will perform at Californos on Wednesday, May 4, as part of Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest, and at Polsky Theatre on Wednesday, May 25.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joey Alexander, Bobby McFerrin and a supergroup that includes Avishai Cohen, Wycliffe Gordon, Danilo Perez, Chris Potter and Lizz Wright are part of the recently unveiled 2016-17 season of the Performing Arts Series at Johnson County Community College.

*The Kansas City Star and a television station reported on a press conference at which the latest public investment in the Jazz District was officially announced.  KC Jazz Lark scrutinizes the allocations.

*Emanuel Cleaver, II submitted a congressional resolution that "recognizes that New Orleans, Louisiana, should be officially proclaimed as ‘'The Birthplace of Jazz’' and recognizes the Kansas  City, Missouri, ‘'The Home of Jazz’."

*Chris Burnett thoroughly documented Dino Massa’s most recent visit to Kansas City.

*Joe Klopus’ latest column focuses on a forthcoming concert by the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra.

*An unusual gig by a pair of overlooked veterans is highlighted by The Pitch.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Chacko Finn- Took my first jazz solo as a college student tonight at the UMKC Jazz Bands at the Folly Theater! Cannot wait to see what is ahead!

*From a press release: Jazz music will fill Kansas City Kansas Community College at the end of April as the 2016 Kansas City Jazz Summit returns to campus.  The Jazz Summit is 9:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 26 and 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. April 27, 28 and 29 in the KCKCC Performing Arts Center, 7250 State Ave. The event, which is produced by the Kansas City Jazz Alliance, is free and open to the public… The Jazz Summit caters to jazz groups at the middle school, high school and college level in both competitive and non-competitive sessions. It is a collaborative effort between the KCKCC Music Department, Audio Engineering department, Theater and the Intercultural Center. Awards are given for outstanding soloists, woodwinds, brass and rhythm section performers.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Concert Review: Hermon Mehari, Peter Schlamb and Ben van Gelder at the Blue Room

Monday’s show at the Blue Room was officially billed as an outing by “Hermon Mehari and Ben van Gelder.”  A more accurate label might have been “Peter Schlamb with Hermon Mehari and Ben van Gelder."

As I listened amid about 40 other people who paid the $5 cover charge, I was once again struck by the impact Schlamb has had on Kansas City’s jazz scene since moving from St. Louis two or three years ago. 

Just as Bobby Watson’s original works including “Wheel Within a Wheel” have rightfully become new Kansas City standards, memorable Schlamb compositions like “REL” and “Stacy Hill” regularly resound in area jazz venues.

The New York based saxophonist van Gelder is one of the most exciting young saxophonists in jazz.  Mehari has become as the new face of jazz in Kansas City.  Even so, both accomplished musicians seemed to follow Schlamb’s authoritative lead at the Blue Room.

Here’s footage of Schlamb performing with van Gelder at Smalls in New York two months ago.

(Original image from Plastic Sax.)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Now's the Time: Mike Ning

Mike Ning has been a fixture on the Kansas City’s jazz scene for decades. The pianist details his intriguing background and remarkable career in a new 19-minute documentary.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Kansas City Star reviewed a concert by the Bad Plus with Joshua Redman at the Gem Theater.

*Hermon Mehari promoted a gig at the Blue Room with an appearance on a morning television program.

*Nonesuch Records shared another track from the Pat Metheny Unity Group’s forthcoming The Unity Sessions album.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Brett Jackson- Got to hear one of my idols tonight. Didn't let me down... Awesome picture borrowed from Herschel McWilliams

*The lineup for the 2016 edition of the Detroit Jazz Festival includes Ron Carter, Stanley Cowell, Brad Mehldau, Roy Hargrove, Chris Potter, Jason Moran and Randy Weston.

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- Hope you're all better now. You could do a lot worse than pre-war Basie that's for sure. Love Plastic Sax but got to admit that reading your occasional reviews of Thrash Metal concerts makes MY ears ring!

*From a press release: “My Kansas City”: David Basse-Joe Cartwright Septet. The great Kansas City jazz tradition will be celebrated on Saturday, May 7th at 8 PM at the MTH Theater at Crown Center, with songs made famous by Count Basie, Jay McShann, Mary Lou Williams, Charlie Parker, Pat Metheny, Mike Melvoin, Kevin Mahogany and Cab Calloway… David Basse – vocal, Joe Cartwright – piano, Seth Lee – bass, Taylor Babb – drums, Jason Goudeau – trombone, Stephen Martin – saxophone, Nate Nall – trumpet...  Find out more about a subject that is often mentioned and seldom explained: Kansas City and its music!… $20.

(Original image of 19th & Vine by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, April 18, 2016


I spent much of last week watching rooms spin.  A condition that was eventually diagnosed as an inner ear blockage made me think I was going to die.  Although every sound louder than a whisper hurt my head, I spent a lot of time thinking about music. 

Assuming I was about to meet my maker, I regretted that I would never hear a handful of recent releases including Tord Gustavsen's What Was Said.  Mostly, however, I rued that I hadn’t spent more of my limited time on earth enjoying the life-affirming recordings made by Bill Basie’s band in the 1930s. 

Now that I’m feeling better, I intend to keep The Complete Decca Recordings in regular rotation for the remainder of my days.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Now's the Time: The Jorge Arana Trio

Does the Jorge Arana Trio play jazz?  The group’s music is certainly a lot closer to the form than almost any of the more than three dozen other ensembles slated to perform at a handful of area retailers on Record Store Day.  The band will play at 9 p.m. Saturday, April 16, at Mills Record Company.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Kansas City Star published a review of the Christian McBride Trio’s concert at the Folly Theater.

*A crowdfunding campaign dedicated to the medical bills of vocalist Molly Hammer was created by her sister.  A television news report documents Hammer’s struggle.

*Joe Klopus previewed a concert by the Bad Plus featuring Joshua Redman at the Gem Theater.  The show is also touted by The Pitch.

*A critic for The Guardian reviewed Logan Richardson’s show at Pizza Express in London.

*WNYC uploaded a batch of Karrin Allyson in-studio performance videos.  Here’s ”The Surrey with the Fringe on Top”.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Nicholas Blundgren- Jorge Arana Trio are Kansas City's Ornette Coleman - telegraphing the future of jazz one performance at a time. No hyperbole.

*Comment o’ the Week: Stephen- Pete Kelly's Blues is one of my guilty pleasures, too. Webb could actually play cornet a bit. The speakeasy's cigarette girl is hard to recognize, but that's Jayne Mansfield in one of her first movies.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Star People

A few associates have asked for my take on Don Cheadle’s new Miles Davis movie Miles Ahead.  I don’t have one yet.  Instead, I’ll direct curious readers to a few Kansas City-related jazz films.

The most essential work is the 1979 documentary The Last of the Blue Devils.  The recent surveys Kansas City Jazz & Blues: Past, Present & Future and Kansas City & All That Jazz approach the scene from a more academic perspective.

The depiction of Kansas City’s jazz heyday in Robert Altman’s 1996 film Kansas City is excellent.  Sadly but somewhat intriguingly, several portions of the movie set remain in the Jazz District.

Partly because Forest Whitaker is one of my favorite actors, I’m not as down on Clint Eastwood’s maligned Charlie Parker biopic Bird as many commentators.

I may be the world’s only proponent of Pete Kelly’s Blues.  The embedded trailer for the forgotten flick set in Kansas City reflects the corny tone, flimsy production values and cultural tone-deafness of the production.  I like it anyway.

Jack Webb stars as a trumpeter in the “jazz crazed years when his music beat with the rhythm of the times and his heart beat with a love for all time.”  Ella Fitzgerald makes a cameo appearance in the deliciously cheesy movie that’s littered with references to local landmarks and jazz musicians.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Now's the Time: Brian Holland and Danny Coots

I’ve unintentionally snubbed Kansas City Ragtime Revelry for years.  The ragtime advocacy group hadn’t on my radar and none of its members have ever reached out to me.  The organization is presenting a concert by Brian Holland and Danny Coots on Wednesday, April 13, at Californos.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Pat Metheny and Bobby Watson are among the jazz musicians who will perform at the White House on April 29.

*Deborah Brown’s most recent appearance at the Blue Room was documented by KC Jazz Lark.

*An audio component has been added to KCUR’s review of Matt Otto’s Soliloquy.

*The University of Kansas Jazz Ensemble I will perform in the Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York on April 12.  Directed by Dan Gailey, the students bill be joined by Kansas City based musicians including Deborah Brown, Matt Otto, Danny Embrey, Jeff Harshbarger and Brandon Draper.  The program will be reprised at the Lied Center in Lawrence on Sunday, April 24.

*Joe Klopus previewed concerts featuring Branford Marsalis and Christian McBride.  The Pitch also recommends McBride’s appearance.

*Matt Otto was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*Mike Dillon's Functioning Broke, an album that "finds Dillon alone on vibraphone, mallet instruments and various percussion," will be released on April 29 by Royal Potato Family.

*A critic for The New York Times panned the Apollo Theater debut of the opera "Charlie Parker's Yardbird."

*The lineup of the 2016 edition of the Iowa City Jazz Festival includes the Vijay Iyer Trio and the Edmar Castaneda Trio.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Champian Fulton- Amazing & inspiring visit to the @americanjazzkc & negro league baseball museum. #JazzAppreciationMonth (photo with Charlie Parker’s plastic sax at the American Jazz Museum)

*From Jo Ann Daugherty: On Saturday April 16, KC’s own legendary jazz bass man, Bob Bowman, will be celebrating his 63rd birthday with a night of music at The Art Factory.  Joining him are special guests Chicago-based pianist Jo Ann Daugherty and drummer Ryan Bennett, both with strong musical KC roots.  This group of sympatico players rejoins forces after a stirring performance at the 18th & Vine Festival in this past October.

*The Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated for April.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Concert Review: Pablo Ziegler's Quartet for New Tango

A quartet led by Pablo Ziegler repeatedly broke my heart at Polsky Theatre on Saturday.  The sadly elegant music of the Quartet for New Tango sounded as if it was inspired by the brevity of lasting love affairs that are inevitably cut short by mortality.

Ziegler was the pianist in Astor Piazzolla’s groundbreaking Quinteto Tango Nuevo in the 1980s.  I was among the thousands of converts who marveled at the Argentinian ensemble’s landmark 1986 album Tango: Zero Hour

Saturday’s concert for an audience of about 300 opened with what might have been a sly tribute to Kansas City’s jazz tradition.  Ziegler’s solo piano statement on “One Again… Milonga,” a track from his 2007 album Tango Meets Jazz, evoked Count Basie.

While the selections were meticulously arranged, Ziegler and bassist Pedro Giraudo made great use of a handful of opportunities to delve into jazz-based improvisations.  The contributions of elite bandoneonist H├ęctor Del Curto and cellist Jisoo Ok, a woman best known for her collaborations with jazz musicians like Regina Carter, were just as splendid.

I was initially disappointed that ”Chin Chin” was one of only three Piazzolla selections on the program.  Yet renditions of Ziegler’s original material were no less engaging than interpretations of Piazzolla’s compositions.  Our earthly lives may be painfully brief, but the two precious hours spent immersed in Ziegler’s rapturously anguished music provided wondrous revelations. 

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)