Friday, September 30, 2016

Now's the Time: Book of Gaia

Book of Gaia- the vocal ensemble of Nedra Dixon, Angela Hagenbach and Pamela Baskin-Watson- returns to the Blue Room on Friday, September 30.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joe Klopus surveys the week’s jazz calendar for The Kansas City Star.

*The Campus Ledger reports on the first concert of the season in Johnson County Community College's annual jazz series.

*A music blog praised Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle’s Kings & Queens.

*Downbeat catches up with Pat Metheny.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Dominique Sanders- Been a 100% full time musician for 4 years now!!! CRAZY time flys!!

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- I think your first sentence should read, "Jazz musicians and jazz presenters often decry lack of support for live JAZZ performances." I doubt any of them are unaware of how many tickets are sold to the Dixie Chicks, rap concerts, etc. None of this is surprising... jazz is an acquired taste that not many have acquired.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Truth About Tickets

Jazz musicians and jazz presenters often decry a supposed lack of support for live music.  Two speakers broached the trope at Candido’s recent concert at the American Jazz Museum.  The lament rankles me for two reasons. 

These misguided people are preaching to the choir.  There’s no point in haranguing ticket-holders who are already attending performances. 

More significantly, the live music scene is thriving in Kansas City and elsewhere.  Concerts at large venues including the Sprint Center, Starlight Theatre, the Uptown Theater and Crossroads KC have hosted dozens of capacity audiences this summer.  I attended two sold-out concerts at the Midland theater just last week.

The price of admission varies.  Capacity crowds of 8,000 regularly filled the central square of the Power & Light District for weekly free country and R&B concerts.  The 16,000 fans at a Dixie Chicks concert at the Sprint Center in August paid an average ticket price of about $80.

The groundswell of support isn’t limited to national touring artists.  About 1,200 fans forked over $25 each to hear the Kansas City trio Trampled Under Foot play blues-rock at Knuckleheads on a steamy July night. 

Fans are clearly willing to spend their time and money on performances by the musicians they love.  The people in the jazz community who imply that the lack of support for their endeavors is a systemic problem are either making disingenuous excuses or are woefully ignorant of the live music scene that’s flourishing outside of the isolated jazz sanctuary. 

The comparative lack of support for jazz events won’t be remedied until this troubling discrepancy is acknowledged.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Now's the Time: Jonathan Butler

What does the embedded performance have to do with jazz?  Nothing really, other than the fact that Jonathan Butler is the first artist slated to appear in the new season of the American Jazz Museum’s concerts at the Gem Theater.  Ironically, the series formerly known as Jammin’ at the Gem has been rebranded as Jazz at the Gem, an alteration that a press release insists “reflects the Museum’s renewed emphasis on making jazz central to its range of programming offerings.”  Butler, a fine entertainer, will play pop, gospel and presumably, a bit of jazz at the Gem Theater on Friday, Sept. 30.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Matt Otto reports that "the Madrigal Jam session has ended after 3 short weeks."

*The Italian pianist Dino Massa spoke to Joe Dimino about his forthcoming album with a Kansas City based band.

*The Black Archives of Mid-America will host "Ladies on the Vine: Women in Kansas City Jazz During the Pendergast Era," a presentation by Lisa Henry, on Tuesday, October 18.

*The student newspaper of Wichita State University covered a recent collaboration between Bobby Watson and the Wichita State Jazz Band.

*A think piece at Jazz Police about the music of Pat Metheny and Julian Lage is titled "SFJAZZ Opens Fifth Season: Can Great Guitarists Lead Jazz Back Into Popular Culture?"

*Tweet o’ the Week: crunchee- I have many regrets, but taking my family to see Hermon Mehari perform his new record at the Kemper Museum last night isn't one of them.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Concert Review: Candido at the American Jazz Musem

Sixty-three years between gigs in Kansas City has to be a record.  Candido Camero floored the members of the audience of about 125 in the atrium of the American Jazz Museum on Friday when he recalled his only other visit to Kansas City.

“In 1953, I was here for the first time with the Stan Kenton Orchestra with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker,” he said. 

Announced three weeks ago in conjunction with the opening of the Cuba Bound: Photographs by Jesse A. Fernandez exhibit, the concert by the Cuban born legend was originally slated for the Gem Theater.  As I considered pulling the trigger on a $45 ticket (plus Ticketmaster fees) on Tuesday morning, I discovered that less than ten tickets had been claimed for the show in the 500-seat venue.  I was relieved when I received notice a few hours later that the concert had been repackaged as a free event.

I had hesitated to spend $50-plus dollars on a ticket because I was apprehensive about the 95-year-old’s strength.  I was also frustrated by the absence of details about who would accompany him.  Both concerns were alleviated at the show.

Supported by a fine- if overly polite- group that included keyboardist Elio Villafranca, Candido still possessed the chops that he’d displayed on recordings with luminaries including Art Blakey, Jack Kerouac, Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker and Sonny Rollins.  (He also had a disco hit in 1979.) 

The percussionist played with admirable speed, power and √©lan.  He admitted that “when I play the drums I feel like (I’m) 20 years old.”  It showed.  He’s an authoritative elder with a massive presence.  He didn’t merely make everyone at the American Jazz Museum smile.  His vivacious grace acted as a reminder of what’s really important in life. 

The world needs Candido.  It’s a travesty that he isn’t supported by an adequate management team.  He should be hanging out at the White House and making regular appearances on national television.  There’s still time.  As Candido said, “this is only the beginning.”

(Original image by Plastic Sax.  Joe Dimino documented a portion of the show.)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Now's the Time: Frederick Hodges

Frederick Hodges, a man who’s billed as "one of the best concert pianists in the world," will perform at Schmitt Music, a piano store in Overland Park, on Wednesday, September 28.  The concert is presented by Kansas City Ragtime Revelry.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Tony’s Kansas City shares a document that indicates that Anita Dixon, the face of the Mutual Musicians Foundation for the last several years, is no longer associated with the institution.

*The Candido Camero concert on Friday, September 16, has been moved from the Gem Theater to the atrium of the American Jazz Museum and is "now free and open to the public."  Joe Klopus focuses on Candido Camera’s concert at the Gem Theater in his column for The Kansas City Star.

*A handful of jazz-related acts are reviewed in The Kansas City Star’s coverage of the Crossroads Music Fest.

*The Shawnee Mission Post documented the Prairie Village Jazz Festival.

*KCUR featured a track by Dan Thomas’s Voyage in advance of his band’s appearance at the Prairie Village Jazz Festival.

*The Pitch takes note of Matt Otto’s new weekly jam session.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Julie Doane- Enjoying the jazz band @ Gaslight Grill. This chick is 79 and feeling fine!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Album Review: The Jorge Arana Trio- Mammoth

The Record Cabinet, a Kansas City area record store in the 1990s, specialized in obscure recordings of improvised music.  James DeRigne, the shop’s proprietor, embraced Kansas City swing and European prog-rock.  In DeRigne’s world, the rhythms produced by the Basie drummer Jo Jones and the King Crimson drummer Bill Bruford were inextricably linked.  Had he not died in 2008, DeRigne would likely have embraced the Jorge Arana Trio.  The Kansas City based instrumental ensemble creates freak-jazz and math-rock that sounds like the correct solution to a complex equation in which Robert Fripp is divided by Sonny Sharrock.  Mammoth, the Jorge Arana Trio’s astounding new album, contains 30 minutes of hyper-kinetic noise.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Now's the Time: Candido

If the advanced age of Candido Camero isn’t the greatest achievement of the 95-year-old native Cuban, his biggest accomplishment might be an extensive recording career that includes sessions with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Wes Montgomery, Charlie Parker and Randy Weston.  The conga master will perform on Friday, September 16, at the Gem Theater, in conjunction with the opening of “Cuba Bound: Photographs,” an exhibition  of images by Jesse A. Fernandez.  My inquiry to the American Jazz Museum about Candido’s backing band has gone unanswered. SEPTEMBER 9 EDIT: From a representative of the American Jazz Museum: "Roberto Marrero will be accompanying Candido when they arrive on 9/15. Roberto is his valet. Other members of the group will be arriving on 9/16 including Candido's manager."

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joe Klopus previewed the Prairie Village Jazz Festival for The Kansas City StarThe Pitch recommended Marilyn Maye’s headlining outing at the event.

*The Kansas City Business Journal reported that Kansas City is purchasing properties in the Jazz District.

*Jessie Riggins wrote an overview of the fall jazz agenda.

*Marcus Hampton was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*Jeff Robinson, the man behind a play about Charlie Parker, was interviewed by Ron Knox.

*Nate Chinen highlighted Bobby Watson’s appearance at Smoke for The New York Times.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Bill Brownlee- 'll discuss second fiddles and the Prairie Village Jazz Festival with @stevekraske on @KCURUpToDate at 11:54 a.m. today.

*Comment o’ the Week: Mike Metheny- My apologies for the "wrath" once upon a time, Bill. I'm happy to report that I've mellowed considerably since the days when I was so full of myself and the master of overreaction and hyperbole. I must also add that my admiration for your skills as a music journalist has been at the highest level for 20-plus years now. Keep up the great work, and thanks for mentioning the new book. mm

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, September 5, 2016

Green on Grand

A quick glance at the September bookings on the Kansas City Jazz Calendar confirms something that’s well known to every working jazz musician and hotel concierge in town: the Green Lady Lounge is Kansas City’s jazz hub.

Sixteen jazz performances are taking place at the Green Lady Lounge this week.  The Blue Room at the American Jazz Museum- Kansas City’s second most prominent jazz venue- presents about sixteen jazz shows in an entire month.

Not only does the Green Lady Lounge feature swing-based jazz by prominent locally based musicians seven nights a week, there’s never a cover charge or an expectation that patrons will order food.  The venue at 1809 Grand Boulevard also gets all the little things right.  The service is excellent and the decor is elegant.

This post isn’t a starry-eyed love letter to the venue.  For starters, I’m allergic to many strains of organ jazz and “happy” jazz tends to make me sad.  Furthermore, oblivious chatterboxes occasionally disrupt sublime performances on both the upstairs and downstairs stages.  

The people who oversee other jazz venues have meekly acquiesced to the dominance of the Green Lady Lounge.  I’d prefer that they rise to the challenge by making improvements inspired by the success of their upstart competitor.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, September 2, 2016

Now's the Time: Max Groove

Although the era in which musicians including Kansas City’s Max Groove were promoted by airplay on dozens of terrestrial smooth jazz radio stations is a distant memory, the sound has survived.  Abetted by saxophonist Ernest Melton, Max Groove keeps the faith in the embedded video.  Max Groove performs a matinee show at the Green Lady Lounge on Saturday, Sept. 10.