Friday, December 30, 2016

Now's the Time: Rich Hill and Bryan Hicks

Rich Hill and the Riffs were a top-tier attraction in the Kansas City area 34 years ago.  Hill and vocalist and bassist Bryan Hicks remain musical partners.  The men wlll perform at Eddie V’s on New Year’s Eve. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Jessie Riggins reviewed a concert by a band led by David Basse and Joe Cartwright.

*The Kansas City Star reported that Houston Smith was slated to perform “The Star Spangled Banner” prior to the Chiefs-Broncos game at Arrowhead Stadium.

*The Kansas City Star’s forecast for 2017 references redevelopment in the Jazz District.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Sunflower Soul Records- We may not be too active on Twitter, but we've been active behind the scenes. Thanks for a great 2016. BIG things coming in 2017!

*Comment o’ the Week: Frank Valazquez- Thanks for exposing me to their music.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Top Jazz-Related Stories and Trends of 2016

1.Dicking around
A resounding tempest in a teapot, John Scott’s characterization of adventurous improvisation as “jazz dick music” in an article about the dearth of jazz-oriented venues roiled the insular scene.  The owner of the Green Lady Lounge apologized for his choice of words here.

2. Not so festive
The American Jazz Museum elected not to present a festival in 2016.  The Jazz in the Woods festival was transformed into the decidedly non-jazz SoJo Summerfest and the Parkville River Jam, a previously reliable showcase for jazz musicians, was discontinued.

3. The sound of silence
The American Restaurant, Louie’s Wine Dive, Art Factory and Prohibition Hall are among the venues that once presented jazz that either closed or changed formats in 2016.

4. Buds
Eddie V’s and Ça Va are among the new and established restaurants that began hosting jazz performances.

5. Jazz millions
A new round of public funding and redevelopment of the Jazz District began.  Additionally, Paseo Park is being transformed into the Urban Youth Academy.

6. Blue notes
With the release of Shift on Blue Note Records/Universal Music Group, Logan Richardson became the first jazz artist from Kansas City other than Karrin Allyson or Pat Metheny to issue an album on a major label in the new millennium.

7. Cold shoulders
While this site, KCUR and Jam magazine assiduously reviewed albums by locally based musicians, very few of these efforts received more than a smidgen of attention from publications outside of the Kansas City area. 

8. Prince Edward
Eddie Moore, Plastic Sax’s Person of the Year, was saluted by hundreds of new fans and by several institutions.

9. Straight and narrow
The swinging drummer Todd Strait returned to Kansas City.

10. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Pat Metheny and Bobby Watson performed at the White House in April to mark International Jazz Day.

Plastic Sax conducted similar exercises in 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Christmas Date With Big Joe Turner

"Every day is Christmas and I ain't got a thing to do, spend all my time making heavy love to you."  Born in Kansas City in 1911, Joe Turner was the original rock and roller.  "Christmas Date Boogie" is the b-side of a 1948 single.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*David Basse and Joe Cartwright were interviewed by Steve Kraske on KCUR’s Up to Date talk show.

*Eddie Moore is profiled in a two-minute video feature created by KCPT.

*Mills Record Company recommends recordings by Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7, Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle and the Jorge Arana Trio as attractive gift ideas for jazz fans.

*Patrick Alonzo Conway was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*Chris Burnett listed his favorite albums of 2016.

*Logan Richardson’s Shift placed in Nextbop's top albums of 2016 list.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Marilyn Kallet- The latest issue of New Letters has a great poem by Yusef Komunyakaa, four by Alice Friman, as well as jazz photos from Kansas City. Bravo!

*Comment o’ the Week: Kelly Buckley- Love love love Eddie and his music! Thanks for honoring him in this way!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Eddie Moore: The Plastic Sax Person of the Year

Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle’s album release party for Kings & Queens at the Tank Room in October was markedly different from the hundreds of jazz performances I’ve attended since I founded Plastic Sax in 2007. 

Dozens of revelers even younger than I was ten years ago paid a $10 cover charge to sway and dance to the ensemble’s masterful improvisation-oriented fusion of jazz, funk and hip-hop.

The joyous event was an encouraging anomaly in a jazz scene that’s in acute need of fledgling enthusiasts.  While the keyboardist, composer and bandleader also thrives in straight-ahead settings, Moore’s recognition that hip-hop is part of the same continuum of American music as jazz suggests that his approach to improvised music will continue to attract new adherents.

Moore’s progressive perspective and copious achievements make him an obvious choice for Plastic Sax’s Person of the Year.

The previous recipients of Plastic Sax's Person of the Year award are Larry Kopitnik (2015), Deborah Brown (2014), Stan Kessler (2013), Doug and Lori Chandler (2012), Jeff Harshbarger (2011), Mark Lowrey (2010) and Hermon Mehari (2009).  Bobby Watson was named the Plastic Person Person of the Decade in 2009.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Now's the Time: The Abel Ramirez Big Band

The Abel Ramirez Big Band has been delighting area fans of the music of Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey for years.  The ensemble’s robust swing will incite dancing at the Camelot Ballroom on the afternoon of Sunday, December 18, and on the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 20.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Chuck Haddix interviewed Chris Hazelton on KCUR.

*Jessie Riggins lauded the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra’s most recent concert.

*The Kansas City Star reviewed the Owen/Cox Dance Group and the People’s Liberation Big Band’s production of “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.”

*Joe Klopus advises readers that Logan Richardson will return to the Blue Room on Thursday.

*Jorge Arana analyzed one of his compositions for KCUR.

*Flatland commends the Charlotte Street Foundation grant recipient Eddie Moore.

*Todd Strait chatted with Joe Dimino.

*Marc Myers examines 1970s-era Count Basie.

*The Kansas City Star reports on construction projects in the Jazz District.

*Tweet o’ the Week: David Megee- Psychedelic xylophone at Green Lady Lounge. Yep.

*From Michael Shults: ”Wisconsin Public Television produced a documentary on the Eau Claire Jazz Festival, airing now. Here's a clip of KC jazz heavyweights Schlamb, Kizilarmut, and Bowman backing festival guest artists Jimmy Heath and Stefon Harris at the finale concert."

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Georgia on My Mind

As the epicenter of the hip-hop industry, Atlanta has provided the primary soundtrack for much of the world’s population for the last 20 years.  I found that the rising musical tide hasn’t lifted all proverbial boats during a four-day respite in the vibrant city last week.  While I joined about 700 people at a concert by the touring bassist Stanley Clarke, I was unable to locate a session by locally based jazz musicians, let alone a jazz-oriented venue like the Blue Room or the Green Lady Lounge.  Jazz-lovers in Kansas City are blessed by a commensurate embarrassment of riches.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Now's the Time: Cécile McLorin Salvant

The impeccably fashionable Cécile McLorin Salvant makes her Kansas City debut at the Folly Theater on Saturday, December 10.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Kansas City drummer Donivan Bailey has died.

*Chris Hazelton spoke to The Kansas City Star about the new album Soul Jazz Fridays.

*Joe Klopus surveyed the week in jazz in his weekly column.

*The Kansas City Star reviewed the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s concert at the Midland theater.

*Laura Spencer of KCUR reports on supplemental city funding for the Jazz District.

*Logan Richardson’s Shift is #33 on NPR’s Best 50 Albums of 2016 list.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Alaadeen- Services for Donivan Bailey will be this Sat.

*Comment o’ the Week: Jeremy- Coming soon to Topeka--Trombonopolis 3! Trombonopolis is a trombone festival and workshop at Washburn University that culminates with a concert performance by guest trombonists as well as the workshop participants who range in age from grade school through college…

*From a press release: The KU School of Music’s award-winning Jazz Ensemble I will perform at the historic Gem Theater in Kansas City, Missouri on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. The free public concert will also feature Blue Valley West High School Jazz Ensemble I and guest soloist Matt Otto on saxophone… Directed by Dan Gailey, the KU Jazz Ensemble I is one of the top-rated collegiate jazz bands in the country.

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

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Plastic Sax's Favorite Performances of 2016

Favorite Performances by Kansas City Artists
1. Marilyn Maye- Quality Hill Playhouse
2. Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle- Tank Room
3. Logan Richardson- Blue Room (Plastic Sax review)
4. Matt Otto Septet- Blue Room (Plastic Sax review)
5. Matt Villinger- Orion Room at the Green Lady Lounge
6. Karrin Allyson- Folly Theater
7. Gerald Spaits’ Sax & Violins- Westport CoffeeHouse (Plastic Sax review)
8. Jorge Arana Trio- Mills Record Company
9. Hermon Mehari Quartet- Polsky Theatre (Plastic Sax review)
10. Mark Southerland, Annie Ellicott, Jeff Harshbarger and John Kizilarmut- Californos

Favorite Performances by Artists From Elsewhere
1. Tortoise- Granada
2. Christian McBride Trio- Folly Theater
3. Pablo Ziegler’s Quartet for New Tango- Polsky Theatre (Plastic Sax review)
4. Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom- Blue Room
5. Roy Ayers- Blue Room
6. Candido- American Jazz Museum (Plastic Sax review)
7. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra- Midland theater
8. The Bad Plus with Joshua Redman- Gem Theater
9. Bill Frisell- Atkins Auditorium
10. Béla Fleck & the Flecktones- Muriel Kauffman Theatre

Plastic Sax conducted similar surveys in 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Now's the Time: Tim Warfield's All-Star Jazzy Christmas

I’ve invested a considerable amount of time and money on tickets and recordings by a few of the seven musicians who will be featured at a concert at the Gem Theater on Friday, December 9.  I’m less enthused about hearing them play seasonal music with Tim Warfield’s All-Star Jazzy Christmas ensemble.  The group includes Nicholas Payton, Stefon Harris, Cyrus Chestnut, Rodney Whitaker, Clarence Penn and Joanna Pascale.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

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

*Marilyn Maye reveals new aspects of her career in an interview with a California-based reporter.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Green Lady Lounge- NewYear'sEve @ GreenLadyLounge Strait, DeVan & Gatschet 5-9pm Boogaloo7 9pm-1am OrionRoom OJT 10pm-2am Never a cover charge Kansas City Jazz

*From a press release: Pianist Joe Cartwright has lived, performed and taught in the Kansas City area for over thirty years.  He is a graduate of the UMKC Conservatory of Music and is currently the musical director for the critically acclaimed NPR radio show “12th Street Jump.”… (With) Tim Whitmer & the Consort Band. Wednesday, December 7, 2016 (at) Unity Temple on the Plaza. $7.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Plastic Sax’s Favorite Albums of 2016

Favorite Kansas City Albums
1. Charlie Parker- Unheard Bird: The Unissued Takes, (Plastic Sax review at KCUR)
2. Logan Richardson- Shift, (Plastic Sax review at KCUR)
3. Pat Metheny Unity Group- The Unity Sessions, (Plastic Sax review)
4. Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle- Kings & Queens, (Plastic Sax review at KCUR)
5. Chris Hazelton's Boogaloo Seven- Soul Jazz Fridays, (Plastic Sax review at KCUR)
6. Matt Otto- Soliloquy, (Plastic Sax review at KCUR)
7. Mike Dillon- Functioning Broke
8. Paul Shinn Trio- Into That Good Night, (Plastic Sax review)
9. Jorge Arana Trio- Mammoth, (Plastic Sax review)
10. Matt Hopper- First Love, (Plastic Sax review)

Favorite Albums From Elsewhere
1. David Murray, Geri Allen, and Terri Lyne Carrington- Perfection
2. Nels Cline- Lovers
3. Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom- Otis Was a Polar Bear
4. Amina Claudine Myers- Sama Rou
5. Elliot Galvin Trio- Punch
6. Charlie Hunter- Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched In the Mouth
7. Charles Lloyd & the Marvels- I Long To See You
8. Laura Jurd’s Dinosaur- Together, As One
9. John Scofield- Country For Old Men
10. Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life- Nihil Novi

Plastic Sax conducted similar exercises in 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, November 25, 2016

Now's the Time: Catherine Russell

It’s a foregone conclusion that Catherine Russell will steal the show when she performs with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra at the Midland theater on Thursday, December 1.  Bandleader Wynton Marsalis may be a bigger star, but the veteran vocalist is likely to have the audience in the palms of her hands by the end of the concert.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Soul Jazz Fridays, the new album by Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7, was reviewed by KCUR.

*Kemet “The Phantom” Coleman wrote an appreciation of the young saxophonist Ernest Melton.

*The Kansas City sound engineer Ron Ubel has died.

*Karrin Allyson’s concert was reviewed by The Kansas City Star.  The concert was previewed by KCUR.

*Bobby Watson was interviewed by Jon Hart in a 36-minute Local 909 session.

*Ted Gioia, the author of the new book How To Listen to Jazz, chatted with Steve Kraske on KCUR’s Up to Date.

*James Conqueror, the man in charge of the Mutual Musician Foundation’s radio initiative, discussed his aspirations with Joe Dimino.

*Marc Myers lauds the digital reissue of the Count Basie Orchestra’s High Voltage.

*The documentary Kansas City Dreamin’ (Music In Shadows) features Diallo Javonne French’s photographs.  (Via Tony’s Kansas City.)

*Tweet o’ the Week: My New Band- Absorbed Lasagna is the name of my new Kansas City jazz quintet

*From a press release: Jazz luminaries David Basse and Joe Cartwright will bring a septet to Polsky Theatre in the Johnson County Community College Carlsen Center at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18, as part of JCCC’s Winterlude concerts... Tickets, which are $20, are available online at… Other members of the septet are Seth Lee, bass; Taylor Babb, drums; Jason Goudeau, trombone; Stephen Martin, saxophone, and Nate Nall, trumpet.

*From a press release: Community Christian Church presents Jazz Carolfest 2016! Join Tim Whitmer and his all star cast of friends on Sunday, December 4 at 4pm for a swinging start to the Christmas season. The line-up features artists of from several generations including the talents of Kelley Hunt, Millie Edwards, Diane "Mama" Ray, Molly Hammer, Greg Meise, Tevin Williams, Scotty Dennis, John Stafford, the Kansas City Bass Quartet (James Albright, Gerald Spaits, Ben Leifer, & Tim Brewer), and The Wild Women (Geneva Price, Lori Tucker, & Millie Edwards) along with pianist Tim Whitmer and the award-winning house band (Jurgen Welge, James Albright, Rod Fleeman, Everette Devan, Todd Wilkinson, & Stan Kessler)... Tickets are $25 at the door or $20 in advance and can be purchased in person or online at Community Christian Church.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Album Review: A La Mode- C'est Si Bon

The pre-war recordings of Django Reinhardt are among the greatest musical achievements of the 20th century.  I swear by this bargain-priced box set released by the JSP label.  The members of the Kansas City group A La Mode almost certainly share my admiration for the legacy of the legendary guitarist.  A La Mode’s new album C’est Si Bon recasts Parisian hot jazz for contemporary audiences.  Jesica Poell is a charismatic vocalist, but the ensemble is best when guitarist Clayton DeLong is kicking up dust with violinists Marvin Gruenbaum and Adam Galblum. 

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Now's the Time: Ernie Andrews

In a reprise of a 2010 concert at the same venue, the veteran blues and jazz vocalist Ernie Andrews will perform with a big band led by Bobby Watson at the Gem Theater on Saturday, November 19.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joe Klopus highlights forthcoming concerts by bands led by Karrin Allyson and Bobby Watson in his latest column.

*Chepttoo Kositany-Buckner and Bobby Watson pitch the forthcoming concert at the Gem Theater featuring Watson, Ernie Andrews and American Jazz Orchestra.  The Pitch also touted the show.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Sinbad- Kansas City where is the jazz and live music in Kansas City on a Friday night

*From the American Jazz Museum: We've added more dates to our (Riffing on the Repertoire author talks) series: Dec. 1 Rashod Ollison - Soul Serenade; Dec. 15 Brian Seibert - What the Eye Hears; Jan. 12 Michael Jarrett - Pressed for All Time; Jan. 26 Sherrie Tucker - Dance Floor Democracy; March 9 Stephen Rush - Free Jazz, Harmolodics and Ornette Coleman; March 23 Dr. Richard Turner - Jazz Religon, the Second Line and Black New Orleans; April 6 - Lanston Hughes Project with Dr. Ron McCurdy; April 20 - Charles Hersch Jews and Jazz: Improvising EthnicityTed Gioia speaks at the Museum on Thursday, Nov. 17.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Teaching Moments

I joined about 20 students at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance for Helen Sung’s inspiring master class on Friday afternoon.

The session consisted of three components: a sublime demonstration by Sung and her touring band of saxophonist John Ellis, bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Darrell Green, a discussion of how each musician came to jazz followed by a question-and-answer session, and a student performance that was critiqued by the professionals.

Ellis’ emphatic playing on a lively interpretation of Percy Mayfield’s “Please Send Me Someone to Love” made me regret not bringing earplugs.  He later recalled his initial college experience: “I started to get really excited about jazz and really unexcited about oboe (his primary instrument at the time).”

Kozlov described the limited access he had to Western music growing up under the oppressive Soviet regime, and noted that “Bobby (Watson) gave me one of my first breaks” after he arrived in New York City.  Green remembered that “I was the little kid who got five, six whuppings a Sunday” before his energy was harnessed by the church band.

Sung humbly insisted that “I try to get better every day.”  Each musician spoke of his or her introduction to jazz in the awed tone of a child describing a memory of unwrapping a favorite present.

Their kind but frank analysis of the students’ playing greatly enhanced my appreciation of the music.  As a bonus, Watson commandeered the piano to ably demonstrate Ellis’ points about the flexibility of time and responding to the prompts of peers. 

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Now's the Time: Helen Sung

Pianist Helen Sung performs at the Blue Room on Saturday, November 12.  According to Joe Klopus of The Kansas City Star, Sung will be joined by saxophonist John Ellis, bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Darrell Green.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Eddie Moore will lead a new weekly jam session at Californos.  The first session is slated for Wednesday, November 9.

*Joe Klopus highlights Helen Sung’s return to Kansas City in his weekly column.

*Tim Finn reports that Molly Hammer was a beneficiary of a medical-related grant from the Midwest Music Foundation.

*The Shawnee Mission Post reports that this year’s Prairie Village Jazz Festival “generated $10,000 in revenue."

*A blogger praises a Marilyn Maye performance at Quality Hill Playhouse.

*KCUR documented the creation of a socially-conscious mural at the American Jazz Museum.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Dominique Sanders- And people wonder why black people still talk about racism

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, November 6, 2016

In a Silent Way: Bob Gluck at the American Jazz Museum

I’m ashamed to admit that last Thursday’s presentation by Bob Gluck was the first of the Riffing on the Repertoire author talks I’ve attended at the American Jazz Museum in 2016.  I’m not the only person who’s been missing out.  Only 12 people heard Gluck speak. 

Gluck’s illuminating lecture was based on his new book The Miles Davis Lost Quintet and Other Revolutionary Ensembles.  A detailed analysis of a two-minute snippet of a 1967 bootleg documenting a jam between Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams deepened my appreciation of Davis’ aptitude for assembling talent.

Revelations included anecdotes about the initial resistance of Hancock and (later) Chick Corea to comply with Davis’ insistence that they plug in and Davis’ duplicitous dismissal of Ornette Coleman.  Gluck illustrated a few of his points at a keyboard and spoke of giants like Anthony Braxton in an appropriately reverent tone.  I would have gladly listened to Gluck rap all night.

The year’s Riffing on the Repertoire series concludes November 17 with Ted Gioia’s presentation about his latest effort How to Listen to Jazz.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Now's the Time: Tony Tixier

Pianist Tony Tixier returns to the Blue Room on Friday, November 4.  He’ll be joined by his touring band of bassist Karl McComas-Reichl and drummer Tommy Crane.  The embedded profile should delight Francophiles (and features a cameo by Ryan Lee).

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

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

*The Pitch previewed Tony Tixier’s return to the Blue Room.

*Marilyn Maye opens a four-day residency tonight at Quality Hill Playhouse.

*Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner of the American Jazz Museum is featured in a 435 Magazine article titled #LadyBoss.

*An early review of Echoes of Europe, the forthcoming album by Dino Massa's Kansas City Quintet, suggests that it’s “smoking contemporary jazz.”

*Tweet o’ the Week: Union Station- THIS FRIDAY! Join us for a spectacular evening of music and dance with The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra (link)

*Comment o’ the Week: Jeremy- Topeka is lucky to have someone as generous as Liz Stratton supporting jazz performances. Thanks to her generosity I've been able to see two of the most amazing musicians (Sean Jones and Eldar Djangirov) that I've ever seen.

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

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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.)

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 élan.  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.