Thursday, June 29, 2017

Now's the Time: Caravan Palace

Swing will resound at one of Kansas City’s busiest mid-sized venues on Tuesday, July 11.  Alas, most members of the Greatest Generation are likely to overlook the concert at the Midland theater.  The ingenious French ensemble Caravan Palace repackages vintage jazz for younger audiences that are partial to electronic dance music.  Caravan Palace updates a standard associated with Billie Holiday in the embedded video.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Oleta Adams will headline the Prairie Village JazzFest on September 9.  The complete lineup: 3:00 p.m.- Shawnee Mission East Blue Knights; 4:00 p.m.- The Project H; 5:20 p.m.- The Bram Wijnands Swingtet; 6:30 p.m.- Sax & Violins; 7:40 p.m.- Eddie Moore & the Outer Circle; 9:00 p.m.- Oleta Adams.

*Chris Hazelton received votes in the “Rising Star–Organ” category of the 65th Annual DownBeat International Critics Poll.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Gaslight Grill- Lynn Zimmer & The Jazz Band, live at the Gaslight Grill Wednesdays through Sundays!

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- My favorite part of your site was the KC Jazz calendar. I'm sure it was a hassle to collect the info and post it, but it was appreciated. Thanks. Would you consider posting a weekly list of (random) suggested gigs? Maybe somewhat off the radar stuff?

*From a press release: The New Red Onion Jazz Babies have been exciting audiences for over 30 years. This Kansas City group is dedicated to the preservation of traditional Jazz, the way the Red Onion Jazz Babies played it in the 1920s. Spirituality & All That Jazz: 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 5, 2017; Unity Temple on the Plaza; $7.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, June 25, 2017


I met a fellow music obsessive at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival last month.  After he raved about a stellar performance by the drummer Brian Blade, the man from Springfield, Missouri, told me about his infatuation with the Green Lady Lounge.  Although he’d long loved the sound of the instrument, he’d never actually seen a Hammond organ played until he visited the dimly-lit jazz venue at 1809 Grand Boulevard.  Even though I’m not a huge fan of organ jazz- the style that dominates the schedule of the venue’s primary stage- the enthusiasm of my new friend served as another reminder not to take the Green Lady Lounge for granted.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Now's the Time: Joe Jackson

The unexpected musical detours taken by the British pop star Joe Jackson introduced millions of people to the music of Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington and Louis Jordan.  The enthusiastic jazz, swing and jump-blues aficionado performs at the Uptown Theater on Friday, June 23.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Kansas City’s Oleta Adams discussed her new album Third Set with KCUR.

*The members of the Ensemble of Irreproducible Outcomes were
interviewed by a representative of the Johnson County Library.

*The Guardian reviewed the London production of the opera “Charlie Parker’s Yardbird.”

*Tweet o’ the Week: KC Jazz Orchestra- Join KCJO for a USO Style Dance @UnionStationKC Friday, July 7, 2017, 8 - 10 pm. $15 in advance / $20 at the door. (link)

*Comment o’ the Week: Carol Murray- I had out of town guests last weekend who said they would definitely pay a subscription fee to be able to see my daughter's performances in KC. They are 4 hours away and want to stay up on what she's doing. So would her uncles who are out of state. When I record with Facebook live many people from Hays (where she grew up) join in. Finally, people who are in poor health and house-bound would feel connected and could support their favorite musicians during times when they can't be there in person. I think this has the potential to be a great thing. I would expect the quality of the sound and video to be better than my grainy Facebook live videos. It's the quality and convenience you pay for. - Carol Murray

*From a press release: KC Jazz Alive is proud to announce the 4th Annual Charlie Parker Celebration, to be conducted,  Aug. 17-26. This year’s event again explores and recognizes the legacy of Charlie Parker- a Kansas City native and arguably the most influential saxophonist and jazz icon to ever perform. In addition to the Parker tribute, the event serves as an opportunity to promote the musicianship of local Kansas City jazz artists as they perform alongside award-winning Artists-in-Residence Tivon Pennicott (tenor saxophone) and Sullivan Fortner (piano). The CPC is the only jazz event of its kind that pairs KC jazz musicians with internationally renowned jazz musicians from across the country. The celebration harkens back to jazz’s truest tradition of collaboration, which Charlie Parker fostered during his career. As CPC continues to grow locally and gain recognition through the U.S., this year's event will provide a New York City focus. For nine days, the Kansas City musicians and the Artists-in-Residence will further the dialog about Kansas City and Charlie Parker’s indelible impression on jazz with a variety of concerts and educational programming (schedule to be announced in the next two weeks). KC Jazz Alive again has partnered with several Kansas City jazz clubs and leading jazz promotional organizations to enhance jazz in Kansas City, while sustaining a connection to the jazz world and honoring Parker's legacy. This year’s event is again open to the public. Tickets will range from free to modestly priced.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Album Review: Gerald Spaits- Solo Bass

Jokes are often little more than exaggerations of the truth.  The old saw about bass solos acting as excuses to talk is funny because it’s enacted at jazz performances every night.  Gerald Spaits’ 2016 release Solo Bass is a stupendous demonstration of what gabby people are missing.  The sublime artistry the Kansas City bassist exhibits on the 18-minute set shows why he’s a first-call musician for notables including Karrin Allyson and Marilyn Maye.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Now's the Time: François Rabbath

François Rabbath makes an annual trek to Kansas City to participate in the KC Bass Workshop.  The tone of the corresponding showcases by the French theoretician, 86, is conveyed by the embedded video.  This year’s concert will be held at Grace and Holy Trinity Church on Saturday, June 17.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Pat Metheny has been named a NEA Jazz Master.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Michael Shults- Thanks David and Dee! Always a pleasure to hang and play at @GreenLadyLounge . @smartinjazz is pushing boundaries in Kansas City jazz.

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- Jazz has a legacy and tradition . It is important for musicians to both be curators and innovators. This music does neither. No opinion on whether it is pleasant entertainment. It is not JAZZ, thus your comparison to jazz is entirely misinformed

*From Kansas City Jazz Alive: Sullivan Fortner is already making a significant impact on the jazz world, even at his young age!  The Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz of the American Pianist Association is joining us in Kansas City to celebrate our native legend, Charlie "Yardbird" Parker.  August 17 - August 26, 2017, the New Orleans native will be performing at venues around Kansas City with local musicians and with a second Artist in Residence!.

(Original image of Max Groove performing at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Gently Down the Stream

As I sat behind a camera that was transmitting a live internet broadcast of a performance by the Chris Burnett Quintet at Westport CoffeeHouse last week, I contemplated the validity of the bandleader’s assertion that “this technology will create more performance opportunities for artists in an age where live venues and clubs are not capable of booking all of the artists on the scene today.”

The impulse is commendable.  Given the scarcity of jazz venues and the ostensible tyranny of the owners of some establishments, many musicians are undoubtedly eager to circumvent the existing gatekeepers.  Even so, I wondered if Burnett was delusional for requesting that online viewers pay for the privilege of joining the 18 flesh-and-blood members of the audience in the room during the 30 minutes I spent taking in the first set.  He was competing with a vast universe of free live video content, including feeds on the behemoths Facebook Livestream and YouTube’s Live channel.  Remarkably, Burnett reports that 11 people forked over money to watch the concert online.

I hope Burnett continues the initiative.  For the purposes of Plastic Sax, however, I’m more desirous of shareable footage.  The shortage of well-lit, high-quality performance videos of representatives of Kansas City’s jazz community occasionally results in dubious weekly Now’s the Time posts that inspire derisive commentary from Plastic Sax readers.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Now's the Time: No BS! Brass Band

Tired of lethargic performances by sullen jazz musicians?  No BS! Brass Band will set things right.  The exuberant collective from Virginia entertains on Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17, at the Boulevardia festival near Kemper Arena.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The 2017-18 season of the Folly Jazz Series has been announced.  The lineup: Lee Ritenour (October 28), Spanish Harlem Orchestra (December 9), Marcus Roberts Trio (January 19), Cyrille Aimee (February 17), Hot Sardines (March 9) and SFJazz Collective (April 27).

*The Green Lady Lounge will host an album release show for Steve Lambert’s new album Seven Stories on Sunday, June 25.  The saxophonist’s recording features contributions from vibraphonist Peter Schlamb, pianist Andrew Ouellette, bassists Ben Leifer and Dominique Sanders and drummer Brad Williams.

*The Passion of Charlie Parker, a concept album featuring contributions from the likes of Gregory Porter, Donny McCaslin and Kurt Elling, will be released on June 16.

*Jazz in the Woods is highlighted by Joe Klopus in a roundup of the week’s jazz calendar.

*KCUR aired a story about a jazz-themed art collection on display at the Garrison School Cultural Center in Liberty.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Sammy- would like for a kind gentleman to take me to the green lady lounge

*Comment o’ the Week: Michael- I always love it when you write about the music vs. the size of the audience :) I share your sentiments about Hermon and Peter, and have to add that Ryan Lee is absolutely smashing on this record!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Album Review: Hermon Mehari- Bleu

What’s the definitive sound of Kansas City in 2017?  Obvious candidates include the chiming of streetcars, Tech N9ne’s speed-raps, Bobby Watson’s soulful saxophone solos and the ecstatic roar of 17,000 people cheering for Garth Brooks at the Sprint Center.  The artistically fruitful collaboration between Hermon Mehari and Peter Schlamb is the sound that best exemplifies the town to me.

The trumpeter- the most prominent young jazz musician Kansas City has produced this millennium aside from the saxophonist Logan Richardson- and the vibraphonist Schlamb have been refining their distinctive approach for several years.  The strongest tracks on Mehari’s debut solo album Bleu are extensions of the sound documented on Schlamb’s stunning 2014 album Tinks.

“Tatras,” “Moment’s Notice” and “We Love” encapsulate the vital artistry of the adventurous duo.  The selections’ scattering rhythms and meticulously distorted sounds capture the sense of youthful exuberance that makes their performances highlights of the Kansas City jazz calendar.

Elsewhere, Mehari evokes the tender side of Freddie Hubbard on “Sunset Park” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.”  The au courant “Awakening,” a Mehari composition that showcases Richardson, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Rick Rosato and drummer Ryan Lee, possesses the immediate presence of a Jon Brion production. The band demonstrates its affinity for mainstream jazz on “Our Journey Revisited.”  “Cold” is a neo-soul jam.  While impressive, Bleu’s variety works better as a head-turning resume then as a cohesive artistic statement.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Now's the Time: Doc Severinsen

During his 30-year tenure as the bandleader of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” Doc Severinsen may have done more to elevate the profile of jazz than anyone else.  The 89-year-old trumpeter performs with the Kansas City Symphony at Helzberg Hall on Thursday, June 8.