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.)

No comments: