Sunday, October 30, 2016

Echo Chamber

Warning: stop reading now if you can't stomach yet another sniveling essay decrying the diminishing audience for jazz. 

My faith in the viability of jazz took a couple jarring hits this week.  I recognize that hordes of youth born in the 1990s may not be clamoring to hear a quartet of area luminaries interpret standards like "Autumn Leaves," but the fact that not even a single student under the age of 25 was compelled to relax in Polsky Theatre at a well-publicized free lunch-hour concert on the bustling campus of Johnson County Community College is troubling.

A second incident was just as discouraging.  Lured by the siren sound of the music, I stumbled into a private function at which prominent locally-based jazz musicians played in a room of about 50 distracted baby boomers and millennials.  None of them acknowledged the efforts of the band during the few minutes I encroached on the event.

If the mission of Plastic Sax is to expand jazz’s audience and enhance appreciation of the music in Kansas City, the nine years I’ve invested in this site seem to have been for naught.  Only after a restorative listening session with some of my favorite old recordings (pictured) and new releases (such as Laura Jurd’s Dinosaur’s Together, As One) was I able to convince myself to carry on.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, October 28, 2016

Now's the Time: Kathy Kosins

Kathy Kosins will sing at the Blue Room on Friday, October 28.  The Michigan native is expected to showcase material from her forthcoming album Uncovered Soul.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*NextBop praises the “ever-present soulfulness” of Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle’s Kings & Queens album.

*The Pitch recommends the Monday afternoon performances at the Green Lady Lounge.

*Joe Klopus highlighted upcoming shows by Kathy Kosins and Ida McBeth for The Kansas City Star.

*The Topeka Jazz Concert Series received a $50,000 donation from a patron.

*Live jazz is reportedly featured in the cocktail lounge of the newly opened Eddie V’s restaurant on the Country Club Plaza.  Details have yet to be posted at the restaurant’s site.

*Pat Metheny topped the guitar category in the 81st Annual Downbeat Reader’s Poll.

*Michael Shults cites the example set by Hermon Mehari in a column about setting realistic goals.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Assilem Media HBIC- About this weekend... A lil sangin at the Mutual Musicians Foundation International #singer #songwriter #MeetAvaBella (video)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hey Arnold!

A new video profile tells me (almost) everything I wanted to know about Arnold Young but was afraid to ask.  Partly because he favors adventurous sounds, the Kansas City drummer performs infrequently in conventional jazz venues.  As Young suggests in the video: “I’m not trying to recreate what happened in 1965.”

Friday, October 21, 2016

Now's the Time: Denise Donatelli

The notable saxophonist Don Braden is ostensibly performing with the Los Angeles based vocalist Denise Donatelli at the Blue Room on Saturday, Oct. 22, but the gig isn’t listed at his site and he doesn’t seem to have any social media presence.  I trust Donatelli will forgive me for suggesting that I would have preferred to embed this excellent Braden performance in this space.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joe Klopus interviewed organist Chris Hazelton.

*A weekly jazz jam in Lee’s Summit is recognized by The Pitch.

*Bob James’ concert at the Folly Theater was reviewed by The Kansas City StarKC Metropolis also documented the performance.

*Concert of the Century- A Tribute to Charlie Parker, a recording of a 1960 concert by a band led by Dizzy Gillespie, will be reissued on November 11.

*Rashida K. Braggs, the author of Jazz Diasporas: Race, Music and Migration in Post-World War II Paris, will give a free presentation at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, October 20, as part of the American Jazz Museum's Riffing on the Repertoire speaker series.  Braggs asserts "that African American musicians adopted a variety of strategies to cope with the cultural and social assumptions that confronted them throughout their careers in Paris."

*Jessie Riggins attended a performance by Will Matthews’ B-3 Organ Project.

*Terri Gibbs shares stories about Charlie Parker in his interview with Joe Dimino.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Folly Theater- Did you know box seats to see @KarrinAllyson are as low as $45 and tickets start as low as $25?! Get them today for Nov. 18th!

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- Polsky is a great place to hear a show - much better than a noisy club. Let's turn out and support jazz in JOCO. I got my tickets!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Concert Review: Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle at Polsky Theatre

Polsky Theatre momentarily resembled the world’s funkiest nursing home last Tuesday.  As bassist DeAndre Manning channeled Stanley Clarke on a gospel-infused reading of “God Bless the Child” for an appreciative audience of about 75 senior citizens and 25 younger music lovers at Johnson County Community College, the free lunchtime concert by Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle could have been mistaken for an exceptionally soulful enrichment activity.

The reassuring ambience created by the quartet of Moore, Manning, guitarist Adam Schlozman and drummer Zach Morrow was worlds removed from the raucous atmosphere at the album release party for Kings & Queens at the Tank Room ten days earlier. 

The solid display of jazz fundamentals on “God Bless the Child” and a sublime interpretation of “Caravan” prepared the audience for a faithful recreation of the exploratory title track of Kings & Queens.  Only two listeners defected during the 25-minute suite, an achievement that reflects the inclusive appeal of the adventurous band.

Setlist: Caravan, God Bless the Child, Kings & Queens suite

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Now’s the Time: Will Matthews with Bobby Floyd

The overhauled version of Jazz Winterlude at Johnson County Community College opens Sunday, October 16, with the Will Matthews B-3 Organ Trio featuring Bobby Floyd and Marty Morrison.  The trio also performs at the Blue Room on Saturday, October 15.  Matthews appears at the Green Lady Lounge on Monday, October 17, in what I'm told is a different configuration.  Matthews and Floyd are featured in the Count Basie Orchestra's rendition of "In a Sentimental Mood" in the embedded video.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Mark Lowrey (best jazz artist), the Green Lady Lounge (best jazz venue) and the 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival (best jazz event) are among the winners of the 2016 edition of The Pitch’s Best of Kansas City awards.

*The Kansas City Star and The Pitch previewed Bob James’ appearance at the Folly Theater.

*Steve Kraske endorses the Blue Room.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Bob McWilliams- Did not realize my seat for KC Jazz Orchestra would be this close to stage tonight! (photo)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Concert Review: The Hermon Mehari Quartet at Polsky Theatre

Your gray-haired correspondent was one of the youngest members of the audience of about 125 at Polsky Theatre last Tuesday for a free lunch hour concert by a quartet led by Hermon Mehari (Plastic Sax’s 2009 Person of the Year).

A friend suggested that the trumpeter and his band mates- pianist Peter Schlamb, bassist Karl McComas-Reichl and drummer John Kizilarmut- deliberately played conservatively to avoid offending their elders.  I’m not so sure.  I think Mehari’s default jazz mode is based on the sound Miles Davis established in the 1950s in his landmark recordings for Prestige Records. 

I understand why my pal was disappointed by the polite bop recital, but I found plenty to appreciate.  Mehari’s feathery tone was in fine form and McComas-Reichl and Kizilarmut were impeccable, but Schlamb’s playing was absolutely mesmerizing.  I was repeatedly floored by Schlamb’s next-level concepts.

Primarily known as a vibraphonist, Schlamb’s ideas may be even better conveyed via piano.  His subtly subversive contributions to otherwise conventional interpretations of “These Foolish Things” and “As Time Goes By” thrilled me.  A rendition of Schlamb's “Tatra”- a composition Mehari said would be included on his forthcoming solo album- was the most dynamic of the eight selections.

Setlist: If I Were a Bell, September in the Rain, Chi Chi, As Time Goes By, The Lamp is Low, Tatra, These Foolish Things, Stomping at the Savoy

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Now’s the Time: Ryan Lee’s Mezzo String

Drummer Ryan Lee and bassist Gerald Spaits have launched separate Kansas City based ensembles that combine string sections with traditional jazz instrumentation.  Lee’s group performs at the Brookside Jazz Festival on Saturday, October 15. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*A broadcast-quality ten-minute video documents Mike “The Horn Doctor” Corrigan adding flashy design elements to Delfeayo Marsalis’ trombone.

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

*The Brookside Jazz Festival will be held at ChristCommunity on Saturday, October 15th, from 5 p.m to 8:30pm.  Four sets of artists- Ryan Lee's Mezzo Strings (5 p.m.), Lisa Henry (6 p.m.), the Jazz Disciples (7 p.m.) and John Brewer's new New Orleans-style brass band the Common Good Brass Band (8 p.m. and between sets)- will perform at the free event.

*Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle’s album release show was previewed on KCUR last week.

*Jeff Harshbarger’s Alternative Jazz Series will resume at the new location of RecordBar with Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle on Sunday, Oct. 16.

*Krin Gabbard will discuss his book Better Git It in Your Soul: An Interpretive Biography of Charles Mingus at the American Jazz Museum on Thursday, Oct. 6.

*The online auction/estate sale of a local jazz collector contains many items of interest to Plastic Sax readers.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Eldar- I wrote a piece in October 2016 issue of @DownBeatMag (the woodshed section). The article covers some song tutorials as well as exercises. (image)

*Comment o’ the Week: John Scott- I sincerely and unreservedly apologize for my comments in the recent article about Kansas City music. I regret making the comments that have led to insult, hurt feelings and division especially between musicians. May you be artistically fulfilled, gainfully employed and have the opportunity for your art to be heard in your careers as musicians. Thank you all for the opportunities I've had to hear your work and again I regret and apologize for my comments.  Thank you, John Scott

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Jazz Dick Music

A new phrase entered the Kansas City jazz lexicon last week.  John Scott, the owner of the Green Lady Lounge, characterized a form of improvisational sounds as “jazz dick music” in an article published in The Pitch.  Ron Knox’s cover story analyzed the shortage of Kansas City venues that are receptive to hosting adventurous jazz performances.

As the man who solved the perplexing mystery to successfully presenting live jazz in Kansas City, Scott is a savvy entrepreneur and an invaluable artistic guardian.  Last month, I observed that Scott’s exceedingly well-run venue dominates Kansas City’s jazz scene.  The Green Lady Lounge’s enormous slate of mainstream jazz bookings monopolizes The Kansas City Jazz Calendar in October.

Scott correctly asserts that there’s a limited audience for innovative jazz in Kansas City.  As someone with a pronounced fetish for jazz dick music (sorry, I had to go there), I also sympathize with the dissatisfaction expressed by Eddie Moore in the article.  Moore laments the lack of a venue dedicated to supporting forward-thinking jazz.

It wasn’t necessary last night.  More than 100 people paid a $10 cover charge to hear Moore and his freewheeling band the Outer Circle perform at the album release show for Kings and Queens at the rock-oriented the Tank Room.  The audience was a lively coalition of aficionados of neo-soul, hip-hop, mainstream jazz, funk and jazz dick music.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)