Thursday, November 30, 2017

Now's the Time: Michael Shults

How can we miss Michael Shults if he won’t stay away?  Once a leading light in Kansas City’s jazz community, the bright young saxophonist left town to become a music professor at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.  He leads a quartet at the Black Dolphin on Friday, December 1, and plays in an organ trio format at the Green Lady Lounge on Sunday, December 3, during a return to his old stomping grounds.  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar lists a multitude of alternate bookings.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Dean Hampton, a prominent booster of Kansas City's jazz scene, has died.  Hampton founded the now-defunct Webjazz site and was a crucial advocate of the annual Charlie Parker gravesite memorial.

*The Kansas City Star reports on plans for Open Spaces 2018: A Kansas City Arts Experience, a 2018 festival intended to “show Kansas City ‘as both the cradle of modern jazz and the present day site of unprecedented technological innovation.’”

*Danny Embrey’s 1988 album Dues Blues has been reissued.

*The Count Basie Orchestra is nominated for a Grammy Award for its contribution to a track on Clint Holmes’ latest album.

*Deborah Brown was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*JazzTimes published a review of Bobby Watson’s Made in America album.

*Matt Otto’s 2016 album Soliloquy was reviewed for All About Jazz.

*Tweet o’ the Week: American Jazz Museum- Each year, we invest in 1,745 musicians, we provide over 40 local businesses opportunities through First Fridays, and have a $1.2million dollar economic impact in the city of @KCMO. Now is YOUR chance to have an impact. Visit  today. #GivingTuesday #Jazz

*From a press release: Kansas City’s own Jazz violinist, Marvin Gruenbaum, is known for his diverse musical and technical skills coupled with an electrifying flare for improvisation and captivating musical interaction. A classically trained violinist and violist, he’s been a member of the Kansas City Symphony since 1982. Performing with Tim Whitmer & The Consort Band. 7 p.m. Wednesday, December 6. $7.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Album Review: The Matt Cook Collective- Along Those Lines

The members of the Matt Cook Collective are at the vanguard of an enormously promising generation of young musicians that is revitalizing Kansas City’s jazz scene.  Along Those Lines, the ensemble’s first full-length album, demonstrates that the saxophonist’s band is among the forward-thinking groups that are just as inspired by the likes of Snarky Puppy as by more conventional reference points such as the Jazz Messengers.  Occasionally a bit deliberative, Cook, reed man Joel Gordon, guitarist Matt Clinkenbeard, bassist Nick Brown and drummer Nate McDonald are best when they loosen up on adventurous tracks like “Geuzennaam.”

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Now's the Time: The Spanish Harlem Orchestra

I’m thankful that I caught Eddie Palmieri at the Blue Note in New York a few months ago (brief Instagram video).  Muscular salsa and limber Latin jazz imbue the 80-year-old legend with youthful vigor.  The Spanish Harlem Orchestra will fill the Folly Theater with similarly festive sounds in a “Salsa Navidad” concert on Saturday, December 9.  Consult the comprehensive The Kansas City Jazz Calendar for dozens of area bookings between now and December 9.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Eric Wesson recaps the procedural maneuvering surrounding the American Jazz Museum for The Call.

*Michael McClintock, the leader of Cubanisms, was profiled by CJ Janovy for KCUR.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Clint Ashlock- I never let myself get too far away from certain records. Today it’s Bobby Watson’s “Midwest Shuffle” and @jaleelshaw “Soundtrack of Things to Come.” Time Will Tell & Faith: 2 tunes that constantly change and enrich my life. Thank you, gentlemen. #jazz

*Comment o’ the Week: Rob- Well, it's that time again, when from the far west side of the country, I start to think about my annual jaunt to K.C. for the Xmas holidays to see the family, and I also (embarrassingly) make my annual visit to the Plastic Sax blog. And every year, I give thanks that's it's still here...still up to date, which is nearly unheard of in today's blog world...and still full of great information. So in this time of thanks, I thank you. K.C. needs more of you. I'm a big fan of the more "out" or free-jazz sounds, which I've yet to have any luck finding on my journeys back to K.C., but if you have any suggestions, or bands, locations, etc. that I should keep my eye on for this type of sound, please respond here as I've love to hear about. Thanks again for all you do.

*From a press release: Community Christian Church presents Jazz Carolfest 2017! Join Tim Whitmer on Sunday, December 3 at 4pm for a swinging start to the Christmas season! This toe tapping, finger snapping concert will feature some of the area’s most dynamic performers and entertainers, including the amazing talents of Millie Edwards, Diane “Mama” Ray, Eboni Fondren, Havilah Bruders, Bram Wijnands, Ron Gutierrez, Slim Hanson, Ron Lackey, the 3 Trails West Trio, and the Hot Club Trio along with pianist Tim Whitmer and the award-winning house band (Jurgen Welge, James Albright, Rod Fleeman, Todd Wilkinson, & Stan Kessler)... Tickets are $20 advance, $25 at door.

*From Matt Kane: ...In Kansas City I will be performing two sets of my original music at the Black Dolphin Jazz Club on Friday, 12/29.  The band includes:  Peter Schlamb, vibes.  Matt Villinger, piano.  Nathan Pence, bass and Adam Schlozman, guitar.

*From a press release: Talented young jazz trumpeter Hermon Mehari will return to Kansas City on Sunday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. as part of the Carlsen Center Presents series at Johnson County Community College. Outstanding local jazz performers are featured under the “Winterlude” banner. The Sunday evening concert will be held in the Carlsen Center’s Polsky Theatre… Mehari now calls Paris his home, but returns every couple of months to perform with friends in the Kansas City area… At the Dec. 17 Winterlude concert, his quintet will include Peter Schlamb, vibraphone; Matt Villinger, piano; Karl McComas-Reichl, bass; and John Kizilarmut, drums.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Shape of Jazz (Concerts) to Come: Flying Lotus at the Midland

Steven Ellison, the man who creates visionary music as Flying Lotus, offered an audience of more than 500 a peak into the future of jazz concerts at the Midland theater on Thursday.  His 70-minute show expanded the visual and sonic possibilities of jazz.

As demonstrated by “Never Catch Me”, Ellison’s most popular song, the Los Angeles based producer combines elements of cosmic jazz with hip-hop and funk.  Ellison’s 2015 album “You’re Dead!,” one of the most artful distillations of black American music in the new millennium, is a natural extension of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and his great aunt Alice Coltrane’s Journey in Satchidananda.

With no live instrumentation other than his occasional scat-inclined singing, Thursday’s spectacle resembled an electronic dance music concert for adults with a taste for jazz.  Wearing glasses that were distributed at the door, members of the audience dominated by people born in the 1980s greeted the introduction of each new 3D special effect like enthusiastic spectators at a fireworks display.

Marveling at virtual spaceships, writhing bodies and confetti will never replace the superior flesh-and-blood experience of listening to elite jazz musicians in intimate clubs, but Ellison has raised for the bar for jazz-related presentations in theaters.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Now's the Time: Everett Freeman

Everett Freeman, the versatile keyboardist prominently featured in the slick new video for Paula Saunders’ rendition of “Night and Day,” leads the weekly Monday jam session at the Blue Room on November 20.  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar lists 86 additional jazz performances next week.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joel Castillo and Alex Abramovitz were interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*The Irish Times pulished a revealing interview with Pat Metheny.  Here’s one of the rapturous reviews Metheny’s new quartet recently received in Europe.  (See the press release below for more Metheny-related news.)

*Helen Borgers, a jazz DJ on KKJZ in Long Beach who was born in Kansas City, has died.

*Marc Myers ponders the evolution of Count Basie’s sound.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Casino Guru- Fantastic place, not to mention right next to the American Blues Museum. It is a must see in KC, I also recommend Buck O'Neil's book

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous (presumed bot)- It's a shame you don't have a donate button!...

*From ECM Records: Over the past week we have begun the process of entering the world of streaming, and from November 17th, the full ECM catalogue will be available to subscribers to services including Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, Deezer, Tidal and Qobuz. This simultaneous launch across the platforms – facilitated by a new digital distribution agreement with Universal Music – invites listeners to explore the wide range of music recorded by our artists in the course of nearly five decades of independent production. Although ECM’s preferred mediums remain the CD and LP, the first priority is that the music should be heard…

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Concert Review: Victor Wooten at the Madrid Theatre

Near the end of his two-hour concert for the approximately 270 men and 30 women who had purchased $30 tickets to hear him at the Madrid Theatre on Tuesday, Victor Wooten pondered the healing power of music: “Who’s working on the bomb that makes people love each other?  We already have it.  I call it a 'cupid bomb.'”

Wooten’s weapons of mass affection came in two forms.  When he locked into James Brown-inspired grooves with saxophonist Bob Franceschini and drummer Dennis Chambers, selflessly jubilant funk permeated the room.  Wooten also indulged fans on hand to witness the many astounding ways in which he’s expanding the possibilities of the electric bass.

During an extended unaccompanied exercise in looping, Wooten evoked the contemplative approach of his fellow bass master Eberhard Weber.  A few additional tricks involved considerably less subtlety, but Wooten’s engaging smile made even his most egregious showboating palatable.  Wooten opened the concert by joking that “my name is Stanley Clarke.”  Although he referenced Clarke’s 1976 hit “School Days” later in the show, Wooten demonstrated that he’s his own man.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Now's the Time: Aldo López-Gavilán

The Cuban pianist Aldo López-Gavilán will join the Harlem Quartet when the ensemble returns to Johnson County Community College on Friday, November 10.  (Plastic Sax reviewed the Harlem Quartet’s appearance on the campus in August.)  López-Gavilán gracefully bridges the divide between jazz and classical music in the embedded video.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Kansas City was one of the 64 cities added to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network on Oct. 31.  A report by KCUR provides additional context. 

*Tim Finn includes jazz acts in his survey of Kansas City’s music scene.

*Tweet o’ the Week: UMKC Conservatory- What a great night at the Black Dolphin! Catch our #jazz combos again next Wednesday, 6pm at Grand Street Cafe! #KCjazz #UMKCCons

*Comment o’ the Week: Chris Burnett- I had the opportunity to spend most of an entire day with Ms. Maye when she received the American Jazz Museum's "Lifetime Achievement Award" a few years ago… Her concert was first-rate then too.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Concert Review: Marilyn Maye at Quality Hill Playhouse

“Oh, that was dirty!”  Marilyn Maye’s apt analysis of her grinding rendition of “Honeysuckle Rose” in the final date of a seven-show run at Quality Hill Playhouse on Sunday affirmed her conviction that age ain’t nothing but a number.

Accompanied by pianist Tedd Firth, bassist Gerald Spaits and drummer Daniel Glass, Maye, 89, was as vital as ever in her 75-minute outing.  The iconic vocalist’s leg kicks are now “only” waist-high, but her voice still soars to the heavens.

In addition to exploring Waller’s best-known compositions, she delivered several Johnny Mercer songs and a spate of less obvious selections including an oddly effective interpretation of the Frankie Valli hit “My Eyes Adored You” and a smoky reading of Barry Manilow’s “Paradise Café.” 

Maye confessed that she didn’t understand why fans demanded that she perform sad songs before she brought down the house with a version of the heartbreaking “Guess Who I Saw Today.”  She followed it with an equally wrenching version of “Fifty Percent,” a song from the 1978 musical “Ballroom.” 

Maye owns James Taylor’s “Secret O’ Life.”  When she intoned the lines “the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time… and since we're only here for a while we might as well show some style,” it’s clear that she knows whereof she sings.  “It’s Today,” a showstopper from “Mame” that Maye described as her mantra, was similarly inspiring.

Near the end of her performance, Maye asked a retired restraunteur in the audience if she had baked her a pie.  The woman replied “I’m too old.”  Wrong answer.  Maye testily snapped “no, you’re not.”  After all, Maye had just spent 75 minutes demonstrating that there’s no such thing as “too old.”

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Now's the Time: Victor Wooten

The jazz fusion heavyweights Victor Wooten, saxophonist Bob Franceschini and drummer Dennis Chambers will almost certainly elicit a warmer reception at the Madrid Theatre on Tuesday, November 7, than they received for the halftime show performance at a New York Knicks game in the embedded video.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Jazz at Lincoln Center created a seven-minute video profile of Marilyn Maye.  The vocalist’s five-day residency at Quality Hill Playhouse begins today.

*Laura Spencer of KCUR reported on the latest chapter of the American Jazz Museum’s travails.

*Pat Metheny was named the top guitarist in Downbeat’s Reader’s Poll.

*Arthur White was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Lee Ritenour during Jazz Talk before his performance tonight at @TheFollyTheater in #KansasCity (photo)

*Comment o’ the Week: Anonymous- Thank you for restarting the KC Jazz calendar. It is really helpful!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)