Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Bobby Watson will participate in a Community Stories event at the Black Archives on Thursday, June 30.

*The Pitch and The Kansas City Star recommend Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom show at the Blue Room.

*The Los Angeles Times catches up with Kansas City native Betty Bryant.

*A television station reported on a screening of a documentary titled “18th Street Lives.”

*KC Jazz Lark continues to promote the most recent issue of Jam magazine.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Joe Dimino- My new sounds: Former KC & Current NYC Jazz Bassist Craig Akin Plugs Neon Jazz on SoundCloud

*From a press release: Chris Hazelton clearly represents the next generation of Kansas City Jazz greats. He’s had the honor of honing his skills on the Hammond B-3 organ with mentoring by legendary musicians both on the local scene and in New York City… Be prepared to boogie down with one of the best! 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Unity Temple on the Plaza. $7.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

I Don't Mess With You

The artistic director of a prestigious New York City jazz venue made an ornery assertion in The Village Voice’s fascinating profile of bassist Linda Oh.  Rio Sakairi of Jazz Standard suggests that: 
"One of my pet peeves is when organizations say, 'Jazz: America's greatest art form.' My reaction is always like, 'Are you saying this because you don't want people to listen to it?' Because that sounds really goofy and not very attractive.... I'm thinking, 'Why are you putting out this really goofy, douche-y image of jazz?' I'm puzzled by that."
I share her distaste for the sentiment and for the similarly grating phrase “America’s classical music.”  Variations of the verbiage are frequently employed by arts organizations in Kansas City. 

I reflexively check to make sure my wallet’s secure every time I hear language of this type because I know that someone is trying to shake me down for a donation.  The assertions often seem as if they’re intended to impress gullible philanthropists.

The disingenuous pronouncements are inherently dismissive of blues, gospel, country, bluegrass, R&B, rock and roll and hip-hop.  The form is further marginalized by the implication that listening to jazz is the musical equivalent of eating one’s vegetables.  Potent and powerful, jazz shouldn’t come with a catch.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Now's the Time: 5 Star Jazz Band

5 Star Jazz Band is among the participants in the Future Stages Festival at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, June 26.  The mission of the youth ensemble is explained in the embedded video.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Kevin Collison reports on obstacles that have impeded progress in the Jazz District.

*KC Jazz Lark continues to underscore the latest issue of Jam magazine.

*The Pitch recommends a gig by GuitarElation at the Green Lady Lounge.

*Diallo Javonne French has initiated a crowdfunding campaign for  a documentary titled “Kansas City Dreamin' (Music In Shadows).”

*Gerald Dunn, Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle and the Blue Room are featured in a short film.

*A Libertarian think tank created a video in which it suggests that private investment is essential to the successful revitalization of the Jazz District.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Green Lady Lounge- We're blessed ~ when Kansas City decides to have a Jazz Festival we don't have to bring in "national" jazz musicians, they already live here

*Comment o’ the Week: Gary- SoLo Summerfest is more like it.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Concert Review: A La Mode at SoJo Summerfest

Although organizers of the festival formerly known as Jazz in the Woods went out of their way to assure potential attendees that presenting jazz was no longer a priority at the rebranded event, SoJo Summerfest opened Friday with a 45-minute performance by A La Mode.

As the photo indicates, not many people were willing to endure the suffocating heat to revel in A La Mode’s hot jazz at the free festival.  The quartet concentrated on playful material like “C’est Si Bon,” “I Want to be Loved by You,” “Dinah,” “Don't Get Around Much Anymore” and “Zazou.”

The charming vocalist Jesica Poell and the tasteful guitarist Clayton DeLong seem to be the only official members of the group, but the beguiling contribution of guest violinist Adam Galblum distinguished the ensemble from other hot jazz revivalists.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Now's the Time: Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom

Otis Was a Polar Bear, the new release by Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom, is one of the most exciting acoustic jazz albums of 2016.  The drummer-led band includes violinist Jenny Scheinman, cornet player Kirk Knuffke, pianist Myra Melford, clarinetist Ben Goldberg and bassist Todd Sickafoose.  Miller’s group will perform at the Blue Room on Thursday, June 30.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Kansas City Star reports that the $27 million funding initiative for the Jazz District has stalled.

*The 2016 edition of the Parkville River Jam, an annual festival that has traditionally featured jazz and blues artists, has been cancelled.   The Parkville Rock & Roll festival has sprung up in its place. 

*A critic for The Kansas City Star reviewed last night’s concert by Béla Fleck & the Flecktones at Muriel Kauffman Theatre.

*The Pitch’s jazz columnist highlights Tim Whitmer’s longstanding association with the Phoenix.

*KC Jazz Lark promotes the 30th anniversary issue of Jam magazine.

*Chris Burnett continues his "real time album project release clinic" for the forthcoming album by the Dino Massa Kansas City Quartet.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Jay Farrar- Spending the weekend in the old Jazz District of KC and the hospitality of the locals is the antithesis of staying for Grand Prix in MTL.

*Comment o’ the Week: BGO- I hope you're right about Cheptoo. I met her in the summer of 1996 when I got my first part-time job at KCPL.

*From a press release: I am pleased to announce the forthcoming new CD by multi-talented contemporary jazz vocalist/pianist/composer/producer Carol Duboc, Open the Curtains, with an all star girl power cast of musicians celebrating the enduring power of women, scheduled for release August 19th, 2016.  Duboc, who has been first call for such heavyweights Maurice White, Teddy Riley and George Duke, has assembled a star-studded line-up of musicians, who not only happen to be women but who are also some of the baddest musicians to grace this planet --  including percussionist Sheila E., pianist/ vocalist Patrice Rushen, saxophonist Mindi Abair, guitarists Bibi McGill and Jennifer Batten, drummer Queen Cora Coleman, bassist Rhonda Smith and trombonist and singer Aubrey Logan.

*From the site of the Mutual Musicians Foundation: The Mutual Musicians Foundation International is excited to present the Legacy 627 Music Awards. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment of the Arts, ART WORKS. Enjoy the night as we we gather together surviving musicians who once belonged to segregated musicians unions in America. As we honor  their presence, remember their journeys and their contributions to art and culture globally; we enshrine them in this ceremony to remember Local 627, now known as  the Mutual Musicians Foundation, 1823 Highland Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri, a National Historic Landmark.  Our night begins with heavy hors d'oeuvres and drinks from 6PM - 7PM; with the awards ceremony immediately following from  7PM - 9PM.  Friday, June 17, 2016. $30.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Album Review: Kathleen Holeman- Live at Corbin Theater

Kathleen Holeman is adored by jazz enthusiasts in Kansas City who prefer the tried-and-true swing of vocalists like June Christy to the contemporary innovations associated with artists such as Gretchen Parlato.  Holeman is a first-call vocalist for The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra and regularly collaborates with other prominent area ensembles.  Her new album Live at Corbin Theater is a convincing showcase for her vivacious approach.  Saxophonist Doug Talley, guitarist Rod Fleeman, keyboardist Walter Bryant, bassist Bob Bowman and drummer Al Wiley accompany Holeman on a dozen standards.  I know a few people who might weep with appreciation at the band’s interpretation of “Skylark” and jump for joy upon hearing the arrangement of “Almost Like Being in Love.” 

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Now's the Time: Bent Knee

The Mahavishnu Orchestra lives!  The Boston band Bent Knee updates the grandiose prog-rock/fusion of the 1970s for a new generation of listeners who adore Snarky Puppy.  The Jorge Arana Trio and Great Vehicle open for Bent Knee at MiniBar on Monday, June 13.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra unveiled its 2016-17 concert season.

*KCUR aired a segment about Matt Hopper.

*The Pitch plugged Hermon Mehari’s regular appearances at The Majestic.

*The Kansas City Star reviewed Roy Ayers’ concerts at the Blue Room.

*Marc Myers extols John Park’s If Winter Comes, an out-of-print album that includes tracks recorded in Kansas City in 1975 with George Salisbury, Milt Abel and Leon Brady.

*The Wichita Eagle published an interesting profile about a smooth jazz crusader.

*The Kansas City Star provides an update on the funding initiative for the Jazz District.

*KCUR examines a potential makeover for a few structures in the Jazz District.

*An editorial published by a libertarian think tank cites the public’s disinterest in jazz- “(w)e’re just not that into it”- as one reason the proposed funding for the Jazz District is ill-advised.

*The editorial board of The Kansas City Star questions the wisdom of the $27 million funding proposal for the Jazz District.

*“Jazz Speaks for Life: Discovering the Civil Rights Journey Through Visual and Musical Expression,” a new exhibit at the American Jazz Museum, is examined by The Kansas City Star.

*KC Jazz Lark highlights articles from the new edition of Jam magazine.

*A television station reports that several shots were fired in the Jazz District on Sunday night in an apparent robbery attempt.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Greg Franklin- Watched an incredible Roy Ayers set tonight in Kansas City. Turned around and Tyler The Creator was singing every song right behind me.

*Comment o’ the Week: Gary- Call me late to the party but "Shift" is really great. As always thanks, BB.

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

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Super Chief

At the break between Roy Ayers’ two sold-out concerts at the 150-capacity Blue Room on Friday, I told Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner that I believed that her primary job as the new Executive Director of the American Jazz Museum was to rebuild the audience for jazz in Kansas City.

I didn’t mention that Plastic Sax has failed in this mission.  There are less jazz venues and fewer fans of the music in Kansas City than when Plastic Sax was founded ten years ago. 

While cheerleading has never been the guiding principle of Plastic Sax, I once hoped that this site could serve as a helpful entry point for potential supporters of jazz.  Instead, Plastic Sax has acted as a reference guide for members the media and as a bulletin board for people who are already inoculated components of the insular scene.

I don’t need to look beyond Friday’s concerts for evidence of the stunning array of locally based talent- Kansas City’s DeAndre Manning, Everett Freeman and Kevin “Church Boy” Johnson sounded as if they’d been playing with Ayers for years- but attendance at most ticketed jazz events is deeply discouraging.

Then again, I’m just a jazz advocate who has never accepted a dime from an outside source on behalf of Plastic Sax.  Representatives of the publicly funded American Jazz Museum regularly cite the institution’s extensive outreach initiatives and music programming.  Those efforts haven’t resulted in a groundswell of private citizens eager to spend money on tickets to jazz concerts.

Kositany-Buckner was one of the less than 100 people who attended the highly promoted homecoming concert of Logan Richardson, the saxophonist who is one of the most exciting new voices in jazz.  She has her work cut out for her.  Savvy and charming, Kositany-Buckner might just be the Kansas City jazz catalyst that Plastic Sax never was.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, June 3, 2016

Now's the Time: Nanny Assis

As its name suggests, the popular Kansas City band Sons of Brasil specializes in the music of the South American country.  Fans of the longstanding group of jazz musicians have an opportunity to hear similar sounds performed by the native Brazilian Nanny Assis at the Art Factory on Saturday, June 18.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joe Klopus runs down the week on Kansas City’s jazz scene.

*The Pitch touts Roy Ayers’ appearance at the Blue Room.

*Krystle Warren’s concert at Johnson County Community College was reviewed by Jessie Riggins.

*Doug Auwarter was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*Shades of Jade’s new release indicates that the band’s dramatic transformation into a neo-soul ensemble has been completed.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Brian Scarborough- 4 hours in the studio with PLBB tonight. Making slow and steady progress on this record. #KCJazz

*From a press release: An original exhibit examining the impact of the Civil Rights Movement on daily life, politics, and the creative process of the arts takes center stage in the Changing Gallery of the American Jazz Museum, June 2-September 30, 2016. Jazz Speaks for Life:  Discovering the Civil Rights Journey through Visual and Musical Expression explores how art and music did their part to break down the barriers of racial discrimination in the 1950s,' 60s, and '70s… Complementary programming features locally renowned jazz performers Bobby Watson (July 8) and Angela Hagenbach (July 21) (and) South African music star Jonathan Butler (September 30).

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)