Thursday, February 28, 2019

Now's the Time: Kerry Politzer

Kerry Politzer, an exemplary representative of Portland’s thriving jazz scene, will perform at Black Dolphin at Wednesday, March 6, and Thursday, March 7.  She’ll be joined by saxophonist David Valdez, bassist Jeff Harshbarger and drummer Anthony Pinciotti.  All of March’s gigs are posted at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The editorial board of The Kansas City Star questions the wisdom of Kansas City allotting more than $1 million of its next fiscal-year budget to the American Jazz Museum.

*Kurt Elling chatted with Steve Kraske on KCUR’s Up To Date.

*Controversy continues to swirl around the Garment House, the multi-story entertainment complex that includes the jazz-oriented Hush Speakeasy.

*Dave Scott chatted with Joe Dimino.

*Bill Frisell, Thomas Morgan and Rudy Royston will perform at the Wichita Jazz Festival on March 30.  (Tip via PF.)

*Tweet o’ the Week: Grant- The Jazz Museum & NLB Museum next door deserve as much tax revenue as it takes to sustain them. Such rich culture and important history on display. They're critical in maintaining the identify of Kansas City, although it's astounding how many KC suburbanites haven't visited them.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Concert Review: Ben Allison's Think Free at Mod Gallery

Ben Allison menacingly lurched toward Steve Cardenas at Mod Gallery on Sunday, February 17.  An instant before it seemed as if the bassist was about to strike the guitarist who was shredding with unconscious abandon, Allison pulled back and smiled.

The theatrical gesture reflected the threatening tone of the first set of the touring quartet from New York.  Violence was implied in Cardenas’ furious guitar attack.  Allison’s electric bass rumbled like a tank brigade while the drumming of Allan Mednard ricocheted off the bare walls of the room like the blasts of a machine gun.  Trumpeter Shane Endsley of Kneebody was often overpowered by his bandmates.  (Here’s a representative snippet.)

The volume was justified.  The longtime collaborators continue to make vital and consistently surprising music.  While I was eager to hear a few more selections featuring Allison on acoustic bass in subsequent sets, I abandoned the audience of about 60 at Mod Gallery for a different type of thrill a few blocks away.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Now's the Time: Camila Meza

The extraordinary contributions of Camila Meza played a large role in making a show by Ryan Keberle & Catharsis at Black Dolphin my third favorite jazz performance of 2018.  The multi-talented Chilean possesses innate star power.  She’ll further her rewarding collaboration with Keberle at Mod Gallery on Sunday, March 3.  The group also headlines the KU School of Music’s 42nd Jazz Festival on Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2.  Hundreds of additional gigs are listed on The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Laura Spencer of KCUR reports on the resolution of the lawsuit that’s tarnished the reputation of the Mutual Musician Foundation.

*Eddie Moore chatted with Brian Ellison on KCUR’s Central Standard program.

*Joe Dimino plugs the “Big Bands Are Better” revue and documents a performance by the Brad Cox Octet.

*Not a single Kansas City or Kansas City-affiliated artist is mentioned in JazzTimes2018 Expanded Critics’ Poll Results.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Sarah Kelly- God Kansas City would be such a haven if I actually liked jazz music

*I booked one the last available rooms in the fancy convention hotel at the hub of the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville next month.  I still need a roommate.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Album Review: Karrin Allyson- Some of That Sunshine

Even by the standards of an admirably restless artist, Karrin Allyson’s 2014 concert at the Folly Theater was a startling surprise.  She traded swing-based jazz and interpretations of Brazilian standards for straightforward adult pop.  (I reviewed the concert for The Kansas City Star.)  Allyson returned to a jazz orientation the subsequent times she’s performed in her former hometown of Kansas City.  I was beginning to think I’d fabricated the tone of the 2014 concert out of whole cloth.  Her latest album Some of That Sunshine indicates I’m not crazy.  Released six months ago, the project documents Allyson’s intriguing foray into the sophisticated realm of sophisticated singer-songwriters like Judy Collins, Shawn Colvin and James Taylor.  Her 13 original compositions sound as if they belong on the impeccably curated playlist of an urbane coffee shop. 

(Original image of Karrin Allyson and Houston Person performing at the Gem Theater in 2015 by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Now's the Time: Sammy Miller and the Congregation

Jazz musicians who embrace zany showmanship tend to be older men and women.  Young artists are likely to dismiss clowning as passé.  Sammy Miller and the Congregation defy the trend.  The members of the New York based band insist that “we play joyful jazz- music that feels good.”  The group will entertain at Knuckleheads on Saturday, February 16.  The show is one of the innumerable gigs listed at The Kansas City Jazz Calendar.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Zach Albetta interviewed Sam Wisman for his Working Drummer podcast.

*Bobby McFerrin and Pablo Ziegler and among the bookings in the 2018-19 season of Carlsen Center Presents at Johnson County Community College.

*The owner of a new jazz club in Omaha suggests that “(from) Kansas City all the way down to Tulsa, there's a Midwest run right now.”

*A few days after being lauded at Plastic Sax, Drew Williams’ Wing Walker Orchestra received an enthusiastic notice in The New York Times.

*The KU Jazz Festival is slated for Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Liam Hogan- woke up this morning & checked all the texts i sent out last night, realized i mixed up the name of green lady & black dolphin, & had been telling friends to meet me at “the black ladies lounge” all night

(Original image of a page from a Kansas City-themed puzzle book published in 2002 by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Roommate Wanted

Only a churlish ingrate would complain about the offerings on the Kansas City jazz scene.  The Kansas City Jazz Calendar indicates that more than two dozen performances transpired last night.  Still, I crave even more variety. 

I’m demoralized every time adventurous notables ranging from the jazz giant Dave Holland to the brash upstart Jamie Branch play St. Louis without bothering to venture across the state.  Yet who can blame them?  All but a few dozen attendees fled during Logan Richardson’s closing set at the Prairie Village Jazz Festival last September.  A concert by the Vijay Iyer Sextet, the heavily promoted headlining act at the Open Spaces festival, drew less than 100 people a month later.  Au courant jazz is a tough sell in Kansas City. 

That’s why I’m traveling to Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Big Ears Festival next month.  The opportunity to spend four days immersed in sounds created by the likes of Nik Bärtsch, Mary Halvorson, Craig Taborn, Nicole Mitchell, Makaya McCraven and Shabaka Hutchings- none of whom have performed in Kansas City- is irresistible. 

I hope to defray a portion of the considerable expense of the trip by finding a like-minded roommate- churlishness optional- to enable me to afford a room in a downtown hotel within walking distance of the festival.  My only regret: as I take in an outing by Mathias Eick in Knoxville on March 21, I’ll miss Adam Nussbaum’s performance at the intimate Gospel Lounge at Knuckleheads in Kansas City.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Now's the Time: Kandace Springs

Kandace Springs will perform in Kansas City for the second time in seven months when she appears as the Folly Jazz Series’ “spotlight artist” on Friday, February 15.  While the embedded track is only tangentially related to jazz, Springs will likely emphasize her swing orientation at the Folly Theater.  Her performance is one of almost 500 gigs listed on the The Kansas City Jazz Calendar in February.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Kansas City Star and WDAF-TV report on the shooting death of a man in the Jazz District on Saturday night.

*Laura Spencer of KCUR relays details about the lawsuit that’s rocked the Mutual Musicians Foundation.

*Bukeka Blakemore chatted with Joe Dimino.  Dimino also documented a performance by Lonnie McFadden at Black Dolphin.

*Pedrito Martinez spoke to Aarik Danielsen of the Columbia Daily Tribune in advance of his concert with Alfredo Rodriquez at Stephens College on February 7.

*Pat Metheny was voted top guitarist in JazzTimes2018 readers poll.

*Comedian Negin Farsad enjoyed jazz at the Green Lady Lounge and the Majestic during a visit to Kansas City.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Pat Metheny- Pat Metheny is launching a new playing environment called “Side Eye” for this upcoming season. The first edition of Side Eye will feature James Francies and Nate Smith. Tickets to the 2019 US Tour are available now.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, February 4, 2019

Album Review: Drew Williams' Wing Walker Orchestra- Hazel

The New York based Drew Williams recently informed Plastic Sax that “I didn’t really start playing jazz music seriously until college so I didn’t play that much in KC while living there, except for the odd Blue Room jam session.”  Williams made up for lost time.  Created with his Wing Walker Orchestra, Williams’ new album Hazel announces the irrefutably significant arrival of an auspicious talent.

Produced by trombonist Alan Ferber, Hazel compares favorably to the output of Snarky Puppy and Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society at the vanguard of improvisational large ensembles.  As with those groups, Wing Walker Orchestra is susceptible to accusations of intellectual fussiness.  Yet Hazel isn’t merely the sort of clinical exercise associated with the academic products of music schools.  (Williams honed his craft at Truman State  University and New York University.)

A riotous arrangement of Tune-Yards' "Look Around" reflects the inclusive intent of Hazel.  “High” sounds as if Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood is sitting in with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra at the Village Vanguard.  A portion of “Lying (or the Will)” reflects the influence of the late Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson.  The most accessible moments are balanced by wooly solos that will resonate with aficionados of the Vijay Iyer Sextet.  (Here's the album trailer.)

Williams grew up in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, the town that produced the jazz giant Pat Metheny.  While Hazel isn’t likely to catapult Williams to Metheny’s level of acclaim, it’s a consequential step in that direction.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)