Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Ralph Caro, the Interim Executive Director of the American Jazz Museum, shared his plans for the institution with The Kansas City Star.

*Jeff Harshbarger chatted with Tim Finn and Jon Hart on 90.9 The Bridge.

*Warren Vaché and Jeff Hamilton are among the featured artists in the 2019-20 season of the Topeka Jazz Concert Series.

*Joe Dimino documented a performance by Stan Kessler, Kathleen Holeman and Sam Copeland.

*Howard Reich of The Chicago Tribune reports that the 65th annual Charlie Parker tribute at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago will feature appearances by Gary Bartz and Ira Sullivan.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Tony’s Kansas City- Critics Claim Outgoing Councilman Jermaine Reed Clings To American Jazz Museum Leadership Whilst Many 3rd District Insiders Demand Traveling Music & His Departure From Influence On Future Operations: (link)

*From Chris Burnett: The Charlie Parker Student Music Boot Camp is a jazz immersion program for middle school and high school students with at least one year of music experience. Spend the day learning about jazz music, improvisation, and the music and genius of Charlie "Yardbird" Parker from the Kansas City music scene's top musical talents! We will close the camp with a mini-concert performance.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Let Your Backbone Slip

A mild commotion broke out at Capsule on Thursday, July 25, when a phone started playing music during a performance by a trio led by Peter Schlamb.  The panic during the 15 seconds it took a woman to silence her device resembled a tense scene from a horror film in which bloodthirsty monsters are attracted to noise.

The ostensible goal of the monthly Spine Showcase recitals is to provide a forum for forward-thinking jazz artists to perform for attentive audiences.  The brief interruption caused by the noisy phone allowed the 50 other people in the room to silently castigate the embarrassed offender.  The excellent performance by Schlamb (keyboards and vibraphone), DeAndre Manning (electric bass) and Ryan J. Lee (drums) helped judgy patrons quickly forget about the disruption.  The free beer and the absence of a cover charge also helped to allay any grievances.

Following a break featuring complimentary cake, Lee led a group featuring Andrew McGhie (saxophone), Andrew Ouellette (keyboards) and DeAndre Manning (electric bass).  The quartet evoked the most compelling fusion groups of the late 1970s.  Even though Lee’s emphatic drumming recoiled off the concrete floor like dangerous shrapnel, the sound field for both sets was remarkably clear.

Spine’s proposition is less translucent.  The initiative, intent and effort of the primary organizer are undeniably commendable, but I’m less convinced about the master plan.  I’m not among the 59 people who donated $4,655 to Spine’s successful Kickstarter campaign.  The organization’s assertion that it’s “showcasing local musicians playing the original material they don't get to perform anywhere else” seems disingenuous.

A free-jazz freakout at the Brick and a jubilant brass band excursion at the Ship transpired on the same night as the concert by Schlamb and Lee.  I’m fairly certain the featured musicians weren’t given any directives at either venerable nightclub.  The people who operate Kansas City’s music venues might rightfully insist that competing directly against a non-profit project that offers free beer and free admission is decidedly unhelpful.

Spine’s most valuable mandate is the creation of another proper listening room.  Boorish gabbing during musical performances of any stripe is my biggest pet peeve.  The grievance is particularly painful during acoustic jazz performances.  I’m grateful for any opportunity to hear innovative musicians work in respectful environments.  That’s why I’ve been a regular at the improvised music showcases hosted by Westport Coffee House, RecordBar and the 1900 Building for years.  Talking is strongly discouraged during the frequent jazz performances at the establishments.

I also expect to pay a cover charge and buy my own drinks.  I voluntarily dropped a few bills in the bucket on Thursday.  I’d like to see Spine make the transition into a self-sustaining entity for which substantial ticket and drink sales cover all expenses.  A robust jazz scene should be rooted in organic audience development rather than in sympathetic handouts.

(Original image of Peter Schlamb, DeAndre Manning and Ryan J. Lee by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Now's the Time: Lonnie McFadden

Lonnie McFadden indulges his Vegas-style inclinations in the embedded video.  The multi-faceted showman dubbed Mr. Kansas City performs at Chaz on Thursday, July 25, at the Phoenix on Friday, July 26, at Black Dolphin on Saturday, July 27, and at Johnnie’s Jazz Bar on Sunday, July 28.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra announced that Benny Golson and Sean Jones will perform as guest artists in its upcoming concert season.

*An 11-minute video recaps recent activity at Chris Burnett’s KC Youth Jazz organization.

*A promotional video was created to solicit contributions to Spine Showcases.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Ryan Heinlein- My first book is out now. The next 75 books are $25 for the PDF version! Treble, Bass, B-flat and E-flat versions available! (link)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Concert Review: Ehud Ettun and Henrique Eisenmann at the 1900 Building

The Brazilian pianist Henrique Eisenmann told an audience of 60 at the 1900 Building on Saturday, July 13, that he and the Israeli bassist Ehud Ettun were acting as “musical archeologists.”  A $26 charge at the door funded the sonic dig.

True to Eisenmann’s word, the duo unearthed music from around the globe.  They breathed new life into Russian folk, Kansas City bebop, Bulgarian chant, Brazilian samba and a Ghanese children’s song.  A cover of Green Day’s “Basket Case” was the least esoteric selection of the 80-minute outing.  After applying a Thelonious Monk-style adaptation to the 1994 pop-punk hit, Eisenmann tossed up devil horns.

Eisenberg dedicated the performance to the concept of “dialogue” and insisted that “music helps us learn to listen.”  When improvised music is as full of surprises and artistic mastery as Sunday’s riveting showcase, attentive listening is as rewarding as it is edifying.

Plastic Sax also reviewed the duo’s 2018 concert at the same venue.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Now's the Time: The Project H

The Project H performs at The Ship on Thursday, July 18.  Links to Plastic Sax reviews of three of the Kansas City band’s albums are here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*According to event organizer Lori Chandler, the Musicians for Molly benefit at Mod Gallery on Sunday, July 14, raised more than $20,000.

*Matt Otto is profiled by an in-house publication of the University of Kansas.

*The offerings of the 2019 edition of the Charlie Parker Celebration organized by KC Jazz Alive include a concert featuring locally based musicians at Liberty Performing Arts Theatre on August 23. 

*Tweet o’ the Week: Jazzy 88 WFSK- Tune-in on Thusdays to hear WFSK'S Artist of the Week! This week's Artist of the Week is Bassists Julian Vaughn, his new release is entitled "Supreme"! Although the bass is often associated with funk, Vaughn likes to play with more of a finesse style as well as some funk.

*From a press release: Join the American Jazz Museum for an entire month of programming celebrating Charlie “Bird” Parker… Charlie Parker’s plastic Grafton Saxophone, played in the now famous 1953 Jazz at Massey Hall concert, is on display in the Museum’s permanent exhibit. This August, the American Jazz Museum presents four free unique public programs, exhibits, and performances honoring Parker’s legacy.  Charlie Parker: Ready, Set, Bird! - Friday, Aug. 2nd; Charlie Parker: Bird’s The Word - Friday, Aug. 16th; Charlie Parker: Expectations of Bird - Saturday, Aug. 24th; Charlie Parker: Bird’s Fixings - Thursday, August 29th. Details are here.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Concert Review: Ryan Keberle & Catharsis at the National World War I Museum and Memorial

At the conclusion of the free concert by Ryan Keberle & Catharsis at the J.C. Nichols Auditorium at the National World War I Museum and Memorial on Monday, July 8, an exasperated man seated near me griped that the performance was “out there.”  I beg to differ. 

Perhaps recognizing that a significant portion of the audience of about 100 were museum loyalists rather than jazz fans, the critically acclaimed touring musicians- positive notices by Will Layman and Giovanni Russonello were published in the days following Monday’s concert- played far more conservatively that at their recent appearances at Mod Gallery (Plastic Sax review) and Black Dolphin (Plastic Sax review).

The concert was billed as a tribute to James Reese Europe.  Yet the five musicians played only one selection associated with the lamentably unheralded bandleader.  Trombonist and electronics manipulator Keberle, saxophonist and trumpeter (and recent addition to the band) Scott Robinson, guitarist and vocalist Camila Meza, bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Eric Doob offered a straightforward interpretation of W.C. Handy’s “Memphis Blues.”

A reading of Duke Ellington’s “I Like the Sunrise” featuring a gorgeous vocal turn from Meza was similarly conventional.  The final half of the show was devoted to a Langston Hughes-inspired suite from Catharsis’ new album The Hope I Hold.  Hughes’ poetry sometimes made for cumbersome lyrics, but the instrumental segments featuring astounding statements from Robinson and Meza thrilled jazz hounds even as they baffled some of the history buffs in the audience.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Now's the Time: Ehud Ettun

Israeli bassist Ehud Ettun performs the title track of his new trio album Deep in the Mountains in the embedded video.  Ettun and the Brazilian pianist Henrique Eisenmann return to the 1900 Building on Saturday, July 13.  Plastic Sax raved about the duo’s 2018 concert in Mission Woods, Kansas.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Yoko Takemura recounts the backstory of the release of Jay McShann’s new Live in Tokyo album for Jazz Tokyo.

*Selections by Karrin Allyson, Peter Schlamb and Bobby Watson and were highlighted in an episode of the weekly radio program Eight One Sixty titled “Best Albums of the Decade.”

*Julian Vaughn’s Supreme debuted at #6 on Billboard’s jazz albums chart.

*A quartet led by vocalist Kelly Gant performed on Star Sessions.  Gant is among the artists on the bill at a fundraiser for Molly Hammer at Mod Gallery on Sunday, July 14.

*Chris Burnett is featured on page 130 of the latest issue of KC Studio magazine.

*Brad Allen and Herschel McWilliams were interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*An essayist proposes that Robert Altman’s “films are a true reflection of the Kansas style Jazz that he grew up with in his hometown.”

*Tweet o’ the Week: Sabrina Moella- 10. But back to the show, the whole band was excellent. Kristopher Funn on bass, Lawrence Fields on piano, Corey Fonville on drums, Chief aTunde Adjuah himself on trompet, Logan Richardson on the sax & Weedie Braimah on djembe. Chile. That's a jazz band dream team right there.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Album Review: Julian Vaughn- Supreme

The gentle rumble of Julian Vaughn’s bass during the initial moments of “On Notice,” one of the curative tracks on his new album Supreme, feels as refreshing as air conditioning on a sweltering summer day.  As with temperature control, the smooth jazz crafted by the Kansas City musician is intended to enhance life rather than serve as its primary focus.  Not only are the eleven selections on Supreme designed to make pleasant moments even more gratifying, they’re capable of dispersing worry.  Even Vaughn’s strong pop orientation on an arrangement of After 7’s 1990 slow jam “Ready or Not” hums unobtrusively in the background like an efficient central air system.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Now's the Time: Moon Hooch

Moon Hooch may not be a jazz ensemble, but it’s clear that the two saxophonists and drummer in the band have spent quality time listening to the likes of Albert Ayler.  The men fuse Ayler’s aggressive honking with contemporary groove-oriented music.  The former street buskers perform at the Encore Room on Wednesday, July 10.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The story behind the release of a new Jay McShann album is documented in an audio feature for KCUR.

*The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra announced its 2019-20 concert season.

*Joe Dimino conducted interviews with Kelley Gant and B.J. Jansen.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Clint Ashlock- Hey @UMKansasCity thanks for booting my car for no permit when I parked for 10 minutes - you just lost thousands of dollars in alumni donations! I’ll never donate to one of your causes again! @UMKCCons

*From a Take Five Productions press release: Musicians For Molly - a Fundraiser. Molly Hammer is a beloved member of our stellar Kansas City jazz community. A stunning vocalist who has continued performing throughout her battle with breast cancer, Molly's fierce determination has inspired us all. Our goal is to raise $10,000 by the end of the night… Featuring nine bands, a jam session and a silent auction... Some of KC's best have volunteered their time for the cause - Boogaloo 7, Sons of Brasil, Brad Gregory Sextet featuring Kelley Gant, Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, Alyssa Murray, Project H and the Deshtet featuring Kadesh Flow - and the event will be headlined at 8pm by Texas' own For Now featuring another outstanding female vocalist, Isabel Crespo. Suggested minimum donation of $10 at the door (more is always welcome). This event is all ages. 4 p..m.-midnight Sunday, July 14, at Mod Gallery.

*From a press release: A series of jazz performances titled The Spine Showcases  is kicking off the second half of its 2019 series with a Kickstarter fundraising campaign. Organized by musicians, the series spotlights Kansas City’s emerging jazz composers.  The Spine Showcases launched January 24th, 2019… Performances are scheduled once a month on Thursday nights throughout 2019, beginning at 8:00 pm and concluding by 10:30 pm. The Spine Showcases are not ticketed; cash donations are accepted at the door… Producer and creator Kelley Gant states that “Kansas City is undoubtedly a jazz town. Our current jazz venues are a great place for musicians and audiences, but new and developing music is often too daring and loud or intricate and delicate to work in those rooms. Our series, The Spine Showcases,  is different. The emphasis is on the performance, and our audience comes to engage. We’re trying to build a missing rung on the ladder of opportunity in Kansas City. Where do musicians go to perform when their material is too adventurous to play in a corner of a restaurant, but it’s not polished enough to book at the GEM? Series like The Spine Showcases can fill that gap.”

(Original image of a Jay McShann artifact in an exhibit at the Blue Room by Plastic Sax.)