Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The man behind Plastic Sax reviewed Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle’s Kings & Queens for KCUR.

*C.J. Janovy of KCUR took the Charlie Parker Historical Tour on Saturday.  Here’s her report.

*The annual Charlie Parker tribute at Lincoln Cemetery was documented by The Kansas City Star.

*Soul Jazz Fridays, the new live album by Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7, will be released in November.

*Jeff Harshbarger, Matt Otto and Brian Steever participated in a Ghost Notes session for KCUR.

*Marilyn Maye, the cabaret star who will headline the Prairie Village Jazz Festival next week,  received a rave review for a recent performance in New York City.

*The Pitch recommends Steve Lambert’s gig at the Blue Room.

*The Pitch reports that brewers of the Green Room have crafted a new Charlie Parker-themed beer.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Steve Paul- Charlie Parker's daughter, Kim, speaks at 21-sax salute by his grave at Lincoln Cemetery, #kc #jazz (photo)

*Comment o’ the Week: Ed- I was in KC this weekend and caught "parts" of the first set by Peter Schlamb at the Blue Room. I say "parts" because I was surrounded by the noisiest, most inattentive audience to which I've ever been subjected. Outside of the half dozen tables closest to the stage and some of the people along the railing, no one could shut up long enough to hear anything. Most of my jazz listening in the past decades have occurred in St. Louis and Columbia and I can assure you this kind of noise would earn you an invitation to quiet down or leave. I should add that this talk was not of the "participatory" variety of response and encouragement but standard bar babble. What a shame. I wonder if a high cover would make the experience more valuable to these smucks.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Review: Old Friends Are the Best Friends: The Letters of John McKee and Mike Metheny

Having incurred the wrath of Mike Metheny, I've learned that his eloquent rebukes can cut very deeply.  Until the release of Old Friends Are the Best Friends: The Letters of John McKee and Mike Metheny, I had no way of knowing that he’d been spent years honing his considerable wit in extensive correspondence with an even more expressive friend.

The new book reveals that John McKee is much more than the title of a compelling Pat Metheny composition.  Pat and his big brother Mike struck up a lasting friendship with their neighbor McKee as boys in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.

Old Friends Are the Best Friends collects a portion of the letters Mike Metheny and Mckee wrote to one another when the jazz musician lived in Boston and the latter man ran his family’s business in Lee’s Summit.  At more than 500 pages and almost four pounds, the volume looks imposing.  Yet the fascinating discourse of what McKee characterized as a “20-year bull session” is consistently delightful.

Jazz fans will appreciate McKee’s thoughtful reflections on musicians including Thelonious Monk (“full of the frightening dissonances of our time”) and Metheny’s colorful accounts of his career, such as his observation that the New York City venue Fat Tuesday’s was so intimate that “we trumpet players must be careful not to empty our spit valves onto a customer’s knees.”

The erudite pals also discuss books, movies, social issues and theology.  High-minded essays are balanced by lighter fare.  McKee’s dismissal of an inconsequential Farrah Fawcett film is hilarious.

The men were aware of the exceptional quality of their letters.  McKee speculated that “someday this ranting and raving might see the light of day with some sort of public printing.”  McKee died in 1989.  He was 44.  Old Friends Are the Best Friends is an entertaining and enlightening tribute to Metheny’s remarkable confidant.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Now's the Time: The Jorge Arana Trio

Jorge Arana Trio plays with the daring spirit if not the style of the Kansas City jazz innovator Charlie Parker.  The improvisatory instrumental group will celebrate the release of the new album Mammoth at RecordBar on Friday, September 2.  Oso, the Jorge Arana Trio’s previous recording, ranked #5 on Plastic Sax’s Top Kansas City Albums of 2014 list.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The lineup of the 2016-17 season of the Topeka Jazz Concert Series was unveiled by Bill Blankenship.

*Joe Klopus examines the seond and final week of the annual Charlie Parker-related activities that “culminate in the annual saxophone salute at Parker’s grave in Lincoln Cemetery” on Saturday.  The Pitch also surveys the week’s events.

*Bill McKemy of the American Jazz Museum and saxophonist Tivon Pennicott were interviewed by Steve Kraske.

*Kevin Whitehead reviewed the new archival Charlie Parker release for NPR.

*Ink magazine profiled Macy Layne, the communications director of a jazz advocacy organization.

*A music video (of sorts) has been created for Echoes of Europe, the title track of the forthcoming album by the Dino Massa Kansas City Quintet.

*Tweet o’ the Week: RappersIKnow- our boy and @rappersiknow fam @moorepiano's new album #KingsAndQueens drops Sept 2 on @ropeadope. Get ready!

*Comment o’ the Week: Michael Shults- After playing sets with Tivon the last two nights, I have to say that his playing is, empirically, beyond reproach. I hope you give him a second or third listen!

*From a press release: The next edition of the "Riffing on the Repertoire" speaker series examines the life and times of (Stan Levey) in in a special public presentation by Frank R. Hayde, author of the newly-released biography Stan Levey: Jazz Heavyweight. The program takes place on Thursday, September 15, 2016, at 6:30 p.m. in the Atrium of the American Jazz Museum… Hayde’s presentation continues the Museum’s new speaker series, called Riffing on the Repertoire, that is bringing top jazz scholars and authors to the 18th & Vine Jazz District throughout the rest of 2016. Other speakers in lineup include Kim Gabbard, author of Better Git It in Your Soul, an interpretive biography of Charles Mingus, on Thursday, October 6; Rashida Braggs, author of Jazz Diasporas: Race, Music, and Migration in Post-World War II Paris, on Thursday, October 20; Bob Gluck, author of The Miles Davis Lost Quintet and Other Revolutionary Ensembles, on Thursday, November 3; and Ted Gioia, speaking about his highly-acclaimed new book How to Listen to Jazz, on Thursday, November 17. All programs in the Riffing on the Repertoire series are admission free and take place in the Atrium of the American Jazz Museum at 6:30 p.m., with a public reception beginning at 6 p.m.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Album Review: The Brandon Draper Quintet- Live 7/1-2/2010

Brandon Draper did connoisseurs of Kansas City’s jazz scene a tremendous favor on July 16 when he made thrilling music culled from a pair of live 2010 dates available as a free download.

Live 7/1-2/2010 features tenor saxophonist Rich Wheeler, trombonist Kevin Cerovich, vibraphonist Peter Schlamb, bassist Craig Akin and drummer/percussionist Draper collaborating at the since-shuttered Jardine’s.

The 80 minutes of stellar improvisations range from jubilant Kansas City swing to experiments that recall Alaturka, the Turkish jazz band that includes Draper and Wheeler.  The interplay between Wheeler and Schlamb occasionally evokes Out To Lunch, the 1964 masterpiece that featured Eric Dolphy and Bobby Hutcherson.

The newly unearthed recordings may be six years old, but music this good is timeless.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Now's the Time: Tivon Pennicott

Joe Klopus characterized Tivon Pennicott as “brilliant” in his survey of the week’s Charlie Parker-related events.  I had a less enthusiastic reaction when I heard the saxophonist perform at the  the 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival in 2014.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Pam Hider Johnson promoted a series of Charlie Parker-related events on Kansas City's official YouTube channel.  (Via Tony’s Kansas City.)

*Joe Klopus notes the commencement of the annual Charlie Parker-related functions in his column for The Kansas City Star.  Larry Kopitnik highlights the annual observation for The Pitch.

*KANU won Jazz Week's Station of the Year award in the category of "stations with fewer than 40 hours" of weekly jazz programming.

*Kurt Elling will perform with the Branford Marsalis Quartet at Helzberg Hall on May, 11, 2017.

*Carol Duboc’s new album Open the Curtains was reviewed at All About Jazz.

*Tweet o’ the Week: McClain Johnson- Nels Cline was tearing up the solo in "Impossible Germany" last night. A full moon was glowing in the sky as the breeze was wafting through.

*Comment o’ the Week: Dean Minderman- I'm glad to see positive comments about David Sanborn, who's a fine musician and seems to be a genuinely decent person. But I've got to push back a bit against the notion that he's a deliberate knock-off of Maceo Parker.  Sanborn has said many times (including to me when I interviewed him a few years back) that his thing is heavily influenced by Hank Crawford and David "Fathead" Newman… (continued at link)

*From a press release: This year’s Kansas City’s Charlie Parker Celebration 2016 at the American Jazz Museum commemorates the 96th anniversary of the birth of legendary jazz great Charlie Parker with… a presentation by Dr. Ron McCurdy… who speaks on The Life and Legacy of Charlie Parker on Thursday, August 18, 2016, at 6:30 p.m. in the Atrium of the American Jazz Museum. A 6 p.m. public reception precedes the program. Admission is free.  Complementing McCurdy’s talk, will be the unveiling of a new temporary exhibit titled A Musician in the Making: Charlie Parker in Kansas City, 1920-42. The five-panel traveling display, created from the collections of the American Jazz Museum and other archives… McCurdy’s presentation also kicks off the Museum’s new speaker series, called Riffing on the Repertoire that will bring top jazz scholars and authors to the 18th & Vine Jazz District throughout the rest of 2016. The lineup features noted authority Ted Gioia… and… Rashida Briggs.

*From a publicist: Seattle area saxophone and flute master Mark Lewis will be in Kansas City to play at the Majestic with Bram Wijnands on Aug. 26 and 27.  Mark’s new CD The New York Session is ready for listening! We will have it with us on the tour, though it won’t be officially released and promoted until January… The CD features Mark on alto sax and flute, George Cables on piano, Victor Lewis on drums and Essiet Essiet on bass.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Cold Pizza

Wags like to suggest that even bad pizza is good.  The same can’t be said for jazz.  When jazz is bad, it’s really bad.  I attended a disturbingly uninspired performance last week.  Watching musicians bury their noses in sheet music during round after round of drab solos was excruciating.  At a time when the jazz scene is being enlivened by scores of inventive musicians, joyless facsimiles of Cannonball Adderley’s 1958 album Somethin’ Else are intolerable.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Now's the Time: Marcus Hampton

I was charmed by Marcus Hampton’s performance at the Gem Theater during the 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival in 2014.  He and a band of Kansas City all-stars interpreted the elder statesman’s sturdy original compositions with elegant enthusiasm.  Hampton leads a band at the Blue Room on Friday, August 12.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joe Klopus surveyed the week in jazz for The Kansas City Star.

*The Pitch recommended Marcus Hampton’s outing at the Blue Room on Friday.

*The Kansas City Star previewed a new production of “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” that features Nedra Dixon.

*A television station reported that items related to the late Oscar “Lucky” Wesley of the Scamps were given to his grandson after they turned up in an auction.  (Via Tony’s Kansas City.)

*KOJH, the radio initiative affiliated with the Mutual Musicians Foundation, recently began streaming a blend of jazz, soul and old-school hip-hop.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Dave Holland- Dave @DeJohnetteMusic @morethan88 free show at Tompkins Square Park NYC for Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, Aug 28. (link)

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- Totally agree with Beau Bledsoe. Audiences at KC jazz clubs talk almost the entire time. It can ruin a great gig for those who like to listen. It is esp. bad at the Blue Room on Mondays and Thursdays.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Concert Review: Dave Koz and David Sanborn at Muriel Kauffman Theatre

Dave Koz behaved like a shameless ham at Muriel Kauffman Theatre last Thursday, but one of his many adornments was spot-on.  Koz called David Sanborn a “change agent,” praising his co-headliner for liberating the saxophone from the confines of jazz.

Koz’ insight was accurate.  Although it’s called contemporary jazz or smooth jazz, the sound with which Koz achieved fame and fortune isn’t really jazz at all.  The music played by Koz and other stylistic descendants of Sanborn is actually a polite form of funk. 

Sanborn’s breakthrough in the 1970s was his realization that there was an enormous market for a mainstream adaptation of Maceo Parker’s style.  That’s not a denunciation.  I am, in fact, a fan.  Besides, Sanborn has great taste.  He used his portion of Thursday’s show to interpret stylish material including D’Angelo’s “Spanish Joint” and Marcus Miller’s “Maputo.” 

Even though Koz’s corny antics were exasperating, I heeded his suggestion to get out of my $35.50 seat in the back row of the balcony to dance to covers of Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers’ go-go classic “Bustin’ Loose” (my Instagram video) and Joe Cuba’s salsa staple “Bang Bang.” 

That’s a change agent I can believe in.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Now's the Time: The Bosman Twins

Kansas City is home to the enormously entertaining McFadden Brothers. Boosters of St. Louis' jazz scene can boast about another set of siblings.  The talents of the Bosman Twins are showcased in the embedded video.  A group led by Dwayne and Dwight Bosman performs Saturday, August 6, at the Blue Room.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Todd Strait was interviewed by Zack Albetta for Working Drumming.

*Joe Klopus surveyed the week’s jazz bookings for The Kansas City Star.

*Two prominent area jazz boosters- Dr. Leslie E. Becker, Jr. and Chuck Berg- have died.

*An interview with Beau Bledsoe includes commentary on the behavior of audiences at Kansas City jazz clubs.

*A three-song OJT set was documented by KJHK.

*The Kansas City Business Journal reports on a criminal trial involving the owner of a Jazz District restaurant.

*The Curtis Project, the new album by the Prism Quartet, was released in April.  Zachary Shemon, a professor at UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance, is a member of the saxophone quartet.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Ted Gioia- Yes, I am coming to Kansas City on November 17 to give a talk on "The Future of Jazz" at the American Jazz Museum.

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- I'm looking forward to hearing Dan Thomas play at the PVJF. We don't get to hear him often enough!

*From a press release: The 3rd Annual Kansas City Charlie Parker Celebration (CPC) will again explore and recognize the legacy of one the most influential saxophonists and jazz icons to ever perform.  The Celebration, a comprehensive Charlie Parker tribute, continues to grow locally and gain recognition through the U.S…  The 2016 Charlie Parker Celebration includes some new elements while maintaining the popular events from the first two Parker Celebration events, including the Charlie Parker Historical Tour and Graveside Musical Salute in conjunction with his birthday (Aug. 29, would be age 96). 

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

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)