Sunday, May 29, 2016

Concert Review: Logan Richardson at the Blue Room

More than 75 people attended a recent homecoming concert by the most important jazz instrumentalist to emerge from Kansas City since Pat Metheny and Bobby Watson became stars in the 1970s.  Logan Richardson didn’t disappoint the gathering of friends, family and fans at the Blue Room on Monday, May 23.

The Paris based saxophonist led an all-star band on Shift, his acclaimed debut for Blue Note Records.  Having spent a lot of time obsessing over the album, it was difficult for me to accept the touring version of Richardson’s band.  Bassist Harish Raghavan was the only accompanist on Shift to join Richardson at the Blue Room.

Raghavan’s playing was just as vigorous as his contribution to Shift and drummer Tommy Crane was an admirable fill-in for Nasheet Waits.  Yet I wasn’t able to forgive guitarist Mike Moreno for not being Pat Metheny.  Pianist Sam Harris managed to make me forget all about Jason Moran.  Harris’ inventive approach corresponds with Richardson’s innovations.

Watching Richardson expand the vocabulary of jazz at the momentous concert reduced the risk anything getting lost in translation.  The most daunting elements of Shift were perfectly coherent at the Blue Room. 

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Now's the Time: Roy Ayers

Even though Roy Ayers and his band are only pretending to play their instruments, the one-two punch of “Searching” and “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” on a 1977 episode of “Soul Train” is wonderful.  Ayers performs in Kansas City for the first time since 2012 at the Blue Room on Friday, June 3.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*A recent KCUR report about an announcement by the American Jazz Museum’s new leader Cheptoo Kositani-Buckner reveals a classic good-news/bad-news scenario.  Kositani-Buckner recognizes that Kansas City lacks a proper jazz festival featuring international artists.  The disappointing aspect of her disclosure is that the museum presumably won’t present a proper festival in 2016.

*The Pitch offers a helpful survey of the summer jazz slate.

*Jessie Riggins reviewed the Dee Dee Bridgewater and Irvin Mayfield concert at the Folly Theater.

*Joe Klopus previewed Logan Richardson’s appearance at the Blue Room.  The saxophonist promoted his show on a morning television program.

*Calvin Wilson interviewed Bobby Watson.

*Chris Burnett provided an update about his forthcoming album with Dino Massa.

*Tweet o’ the Week: westportcoffeehouse- The Visceral Trio-classic organ, guitar, drum from Denton TX #westportcoffee1 #kcjazz

*Originally issued on Mercury and Clef, but ultimately housed on Verve, the (Charlie) Parker/(Norman) Granz studio collaborations were well-designed and thoughtfully conceived to display Bird's unparalleled talents in a variety of contexts. These included Parker's four to six piece ensembles (both working and pick-up groups); Latin Jazz efforts, some of which were labeled "South of the Border;" the orchestral Charlie Parker including his masterpieces with strings; standard Big Band; and Parker's prescient view of the Third Stream. Unheard Bird: The Unissued Takes touches on all of these, including a couple of brief false starts on "If I Should Lose You" that were not included in the remarkable 2015 companion set, Charlie Parker With Strings: Deluxe Edition… Spanning the years 1949-1952, Unheard Bird: The Unissued Takes displays the immortal master of the alto saxophone Charlie Parker at the peak maturity of his prodigious talents.

*From a press release: 22nd Spirituality & All That Jazz Anniversary Celebration featuring 1994’s very first Special Guest Diane "Mama" Ray performing with Tim Whitmer & The Consort Band…  In 1962 Diane came to Kansas City from New York City, and was immediately caught up in the great Jazz and Blues scene here. 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 1. $7 at the door.

*From a press release: Johnson County Community College’s Winterlude is back!  It looks a bit different for 2016-17, but the intention is the same: to bring some of the best of Kansas City’s jazz and world music community to an audience in the comfortable performance spaces in the Carlsen Center. Winterlude 2016-17 will feature bands on a series of Sunday evenings from 7 to 8:30 p.m. from October to March. The Winterlude series will include a finale in Yardley Hall, Jazz 100. It will be a celebration of the anniversaries of a number of jazz greats: Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald and Mongo Santamaria.  Jazz 100 will feature Dizzy Gillespie’s long-time pianist, Danillo Perez, joined by Chris Potter (tenor sax), Avishai Cohen (trumpet), Wycliffe Gordon (trombone), Ben Street (bass), Adam Cruz (drums), Roman Diaz (percussion) and Lizz Wright (vocals). Sunday, October 16: Will Matthews B-3 Organ Trio featuring Bobby Floyd and Marty Morrison, Polsky Theatre; Sunday, December 18: David Basse/Joe Cartwright Septet, Polsky Theatre; Sunday, January 22: Sons of Brasil, Polsky Theatre; Sunday, February 26: Alaturka, Polsky Theatre; Sunday, March 19: Jazz 100, Yardley Hall. Tickets can be purchased as the Winterlude Series, as individual concerts, or as part of a Performing Arts Series package.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Album Review: Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny

The title of the new album Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny is inadequate. 

Free jazz enthusiasts might suggest that Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny on the Mountaintop is a more accurate indication of its contents.  Traditionalists with an antipathy to noisy improvisation might counter that Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny in a Dark Alley is a better appellation. 

Metheny’s playing on the project is entirely different from his contributions to Logan Richardson’s recent release Shift and the extrapolations on his latest offering The Unity Sessions

Hearing Metheny work with trumpeter Cuong Vu, bassist Stomu Takeishi and drummer Ted Poor provides a different sort of thrill.  While “Seeds of Doubt” won’t distress groove-oriented fans of the Pat Metheny Group, the epic scale of the powerful “Telescope” evokes Led Zeppelin. 

A few of the tortured sounds Metheny makes on “Acid Kiss” could be mistaken for the work of avant-garde guitarists like Marc Ribot and Nels Cline.  Metheny’s primary solo on the opening track, however, possesses the signature sound of the stupendously versatile man from Lee’s Summit. 

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Now's the Time: Dee Dee Bridgewater

Dee Dee Bridgewater’s appearance at the Gem Theater in 2007 is one of the most exhilarating concerts I’ve attended.  She was accompanied by African musicians during the innovative performance.  On Saturday, May 21, Bridgewater will be joined by a band from New Orleans at the Folly Theater.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*KCUR’s Up To Date aired a segment about Ida McBeth.

*The Pitch and The Kansas City Star previewed an upcoming concert at the Folly Theater starring Dee Dee Bridgewater and Irvin Mayfield.

*Charles Ferruzza explains why it’s impossible to stand on the corner of 12th & Vine.

*Tweet o’ the Week: JP McGinnis- lived in downtown KC for four years and hadn't been to the Green Lady Lounge. was missing out—this Sunday night band is tight.

*Comment o’ the Week: Chris Hazelton- Chris Hazelton- If Cecil Taylor is what you're basing your opinion of jazz from, then it's hard to disagree with him.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Album Review: Pat Metheny- The Unity Sessions

The most striking element of the enormously satisfying The Unity Sessions by Pat Metheny's Unity Group is the pairing of “Cherokee” and “Police People.”  After the guitarist and saxophonist Chris Potter fly through a fleet version of the standard, the ensemble tears into a thorny reading of Ornette Coleman’s composition.  The contrast exemplifies the vast scope of The Unity Sessions, a project that may be the single most representative album of Metheny’s career.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, May 12, 2016


It takes a lot of nerve to disparage jazz from the stage of the Folly Theater in Kansas City.  That’s precisely what comedian Fred Armisen did during his appearance at Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest on April 30.  He uses a clip from a Cecil Taylor’s 1956 album Jazz Advance as the punchline of his gag.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Gina Kauffman conducted a Portait Session with Krystle Warren for KCUR.

*Jessie Riggins reviewed a recent concert by the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra.

*C.J. Janovy reported on the American Jazz Museum’s new First Friday initiative.

*Joe Klopus anticipates a handful of forthcoming concerts in his column for The Kansas City Star.

*The Pitch recommends a Jammin’ at the Gem concert featuring Ida McBeth and the McFadden Brothers.

*Kathleen Holeman has released a new album.

*Tweet o’ the Week: @CJ Janovy- First Friday at @americanjazzkc #18th&Vine (video)

*From a press release: The KC Bass Workshop will be held July 15­19 2016, at Shawnee Mission North High School 7401 Johnson Dr. Overland Park, KS 66202… This world­class symposium is in its seventh year of inspiring an artful future in playing the double and electric basses…  We proudly welcome the return of maestro ​François Rabbath, ​a famed bassist known for his work with Michel Legrand, Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel, whom jazz master Ornette Coleman dubbed as the "inventor of free jazz". We welcome the amazing ​Mark Dresser​, one of the most unique voices on the Double Bass in the past 20 years. ​For more information, visit​ Kansas City Bass Workshop.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Fabricating a Festival

The transmutation of Jazz in the Woods into SoJo Summerfest is a disheartening blow to the jazz community.  Details about the 2016 editions of the one-day events The Prairie Village Jazz Festival and The 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival are still under wraps.

Neglected jazz aficionados in Kansas City have been provided with plenty of reasons to eye the ambitious lineups of  large-scale, multi-day festivals in Chicago, Detroit and Iowa City.

Kansas Citians needn’t succumb to wanderlust.  With careful planning and a willingness to bar-hop, it’s possible to fashion makeshift jazz festivals.  That’s what I did on the opening night of Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest.   The four-day music portion of the festival has an indie-rock orientation, but I managed to catch three engaging left-of-center jazz sets on Wednesday.

The Jorge Arana Trio evoked the abrasive electric jazz associated with the late Sonny Sharrock at Mills Record Company.  The quartet of vocalist Annie Ellicott, the modified instrument master Mark Southerland, bassist Jeff Harshbarger and drummer John Kizilarmut veered between conventional jazz standards and wild flights of fancy at Californos.  Backed by elite musicians including keyboardist Brad Cox and guitarist Beau Bledsoe, the former Kansas City resident Krystle Warren performed a compelling blend of folk, gospel and jazz at the same venue. 

Devotees of small jazz ensembles could make a full night of sampling the offerings at the cocktail lounges of restaurants including The American, Cafe Trio, Chaz and Sullivan’s.  People who prefer not to drive could partake of the miniature festival that transpires at Green Lady Lounge every weekend.

Still not satisfied?  The three-day festival in the jazz capital of Iowa City features performances by bands led by heavy hitters including Edmar Castaneda, Vijay Iyer, Allison Miller, Poncho Sanchez and Miguel Zenón.  I may see you there.

(Original image of Krystle Warren and Brad Cox by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Now's the Time: Delfeayo Marsalis

Delfeayo Marsalis’ appearance at the Blue Room in 2012 was delightful.  The accomplished trombonist returns to the venue on Friday, May 6.  What a wonderful world, indeed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*An audio version of KCUR’s review of Logan Richardson’s Shift was aired by KCUR last week and is available for streaming.

*Bobby Watson performed “Mandela” with an all-star group that included Hugh Masekela on the television broadcast of “Jazz at the White House,” a component of International Jazz Day.  He also performed “Just One of Those Things” with Jamie Cullum.  Pat Metheny accompanied Sting on “Sister Moon” and was present for a rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”  Metheny’s performance of “Minuano (Six Eight)” didn’t make the broadcast but can be enjoyed at the 42:15 mark of “private” 90-minute videos of the event that can be found online.

*Steve Kraske chatted with Bobby Watson about his experience at the White House.

*Footage of a band led by Dino Massa was captured at the Art Factory last week.

*Joe Klopus previewed gigs by Alan Ferber and Delfeayo Marsalis.  The Pitch also highlighted Marsalis’ show.

*Benny Green, the Rebirth Brass Band and Bria Skonberg are among the jazz artists booked in the 2016-17 performing arts season of the Lied Center in Lawrence.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Middle of the Map- Jorge Arana Trio on the @riotroom patio / Sweet electro-jazz sound #motmkc'ers

*The Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, May 1, 2016


It’s been said that Kansas City is a one degree of separation town.  I’ve never been more startled by the interrelations of the populace than at the funeral of Dorsey Moore on Saturday. 

As the father of one of my since-deceased high school pals, I only knew Moore as the gracious man who patiently tolerated the foolhardy antics of reckless teenagers.  A series of speakers at Saturday’s service recounted Moore’s many interests and endeavors.  I didn’t know that he paid his way through college as a professional jazz musician or that his Dixieland band released three albums. 

I almost fell out of my pew when Gary Sivils was name-checked as one of his colleagues.  Sivils, a mentor of Mike and Pat Metheny, is my third cousin twice removed (or something like that).  Nor was I aware that Moore was a booster of Bobby Watson’s jazz program at UMKC and had once traveled to Europe with the student ensemble. 

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be directed to the Dorsey and Mary Moore Scholarship for Jazz Studies at UMKC.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)