Thursday, August 29, 2019

Now's the Time: Al Di Meola

The embedded clip captures Al Di Meola performing “The Romantic Warrior” with Return to Forever in 1976.  Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White won’t accompany the guitarist at the VooDoo on Friday, September 6, but Di Meola’s concert will still serve as a reunion of old-school fusion fanatics.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joe Dimino chatted with Greg Carroll about Charlie Parker prior to sharing footage of the Bringing Legends to Life concert in Liberty.

*A trad-jazz enthusiast praises the performance of the New Red Onion Jazz Babies at the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Becca Jane- @Harry_Styles if you like Jazz, you should come to Kansas City’s @GreenLadyLounge

*From the American Jazz Museum: As one of only two Smithsonian Affiliates in the Kansas City metro area, the American Jazz Museum will open its doors free of charge to all Museum Day ticket holders on Saturday September 21, 2019…  Museum Day tickets will be available for download at beginning August 15.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Concert Review: The Brian Scarborough Quintet at RecordBar

Brian Scarborough has arrived.  Once a precocious boy wonder brimming with potential, the trombonist, composer and bandleader proved that he’s joined the ranks of Kansas City’s elite jazz musicians at RecordBar on Sunday, August 18. 

Scarborough possessed the assurance and advanced conception of a musician twice his age as he led a stellar quintet consisting of saxophonist Matt Otto, guitarist Adam Schlozman, bassist Jeff Harshbarger and drummer Brian Steever in a performance of original material.

I wasn’t surprised when he told the dozen people who paid the $5 cover to catch the first set that he’d been listening to Albert Mangelsdorff.  While decidedly thornier than his previous playing, Scarborough’s slightly left-of-center attack wouldn’t have caused conservative devotees of Bob Brookmeyer or J.J. Johnson to squirm.

Focusing solely on Scarborough would be imprudent.  Otto remains the best soloist in town not named Bobby Watson.  And the group’s sophisticated comping was frequently as intriguing as the individual solos.  Scarborough’s rapid evolution suggests that I’m likely to encounter a much different musician the next time I catch him.  I can hardly wait.

(Original image of Adam Scholzman, Brian Scarborough, Matt Otto and Brian Steever by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Now's the Time: New Jazz Order

Before becoming the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, Clint Ashlock led New Jazz Order.  Ashlock and the less formal big band return to the Blue Room on Monday, August 26.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*CityScene KC reports that street busker Marvin Hollinshed has died.

*A television station filed a confusing report about the status of Club Mardi Gras in the Jazz District.

*Dan Thomas promoted KC Jazz Alive’s annual Charlie Parker initiative on a morning television program.

*Ben LaMar Gay, Fred Frith and Matthew Shipp- elite improvisors who have never appeared in Kansas City- are performing in the 2019-20 season of St. Louis’ New Music Circle.   (Via St. Louis Jazz Notes.)

*Tweet o’ the Week: Alexis- Trying to request city of stars @ green lady lounge

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Before I Let Go

I feel like a jerk every time I attend a panel discussion about music.  Why bother hearing people talk when I could be listening to music?  Yet I couldn’t resist the star power represented by Bobby Watson, Tia Fuller and Eddie Moore at a forum titled Jazz, Millennials, and the Music and Legacy of Charlie Parker at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. 

More than 100 people- a handful of whom were actual millennials- attended the presentation in Atkins Auditorium organized by KC Jazz Alive.  Following Greg Carroll’s protracted opening remarks and introductions by the loquacious moderator Mitch Butler, the eminently quotable Watson dropped several nuggets.
*On Bird’s imposing legacy: “If I knew about Charlie Parker when I was younger, I probably wouldn’t have started playing.”
*When asked if he’s famous, he responds “I’m bass fisherman famous,” and when he’s told that he’s a household name, he counters “they keep me under the sink.”
*On Parker’s lasting influence: “He created this universe we all live in.”
Fuller spoke about her stint in Beyoncé’s band.
*In an acknowledgement of the age of most members of the audience, she asked “Do you all know who Beyoncé is?” 
*Recalling that she presented the diva with albums by Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald on her birthday, Fuller said she felt her mission was “to impart jazz on Beyoncé.”
I spotted Fuller with a saxophone prior to the talk, so I assume a musical demonstration was in the offing.  Yet every time the auditorium doors opened, the sound of a performance by the R&B band Soul Revival in the lobby of the adjacent Bloch Building spilled into the room.  Vibrant covers of hits by Aretha Franklin, Rufus and Stevie Wonder tugged at me like siren songs.  I couldn’t take it any longer when I heard Soul Revival break into Maze’s “Before I Let Go”.  I bolted out of the room to join the nearby throng of nimble dancers.  I’m confident Parker would have approved.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Now's the Time: Tia Fuller

Tia Fuller isn’t a member of the millennial generation, nor is a Kansas City gig listed at her site or in her social media feeds.  Yet the saxophonist and bandleader from Colorado is billed as a panelist at the Jazz, Millennials, and the Music and Legacy of Charlie Parker discussion at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on Thursday, August 15.  Fuller last appeared in Kansas City in 2014 as a member of Teri Lyne Carrington’s band.  (Plastic Sax review.)  Plastic Sax caught her two years ago at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in New York City. (Plastic Sax review.)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Chuck Haddix and Mitch Butler considered the legacy of Charlie Parker in an episode of KCUR’s Up To Date.

*Joe Dimino interviewed Brad Cox.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Ann Salo- Celebrating 65th birthday of Pat Metheny by listening to New Chautauqua, 1979

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Standard Deviation

After driving 25 minutes to catch a set by a jazz ensemble a couple months ago, I walked out in disgust after ten minutes when the group sleepwalked through stock arrangements of “Misty” and “The Girl From Ipanema.”  And I might swear off jazz clubs altogether if I’m subjected to another humdrum rendition of “Summertime” this year.  My screed is provoked by the track listing of a new album by a locally based jazz musician.  Unless his goal is to obtain bookings from musically unsophisticated venue owners, I don’t understand the point of recording straightforward interpretations of tired warhorses like “Ain’t Misbehavin’”, “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “Route 66.”  And let the record show that any person who gets between me and the door the next time a band breaks into “Ain’t No Sunshine” could get hurt.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Now's the Time: Blair Bryant

The Kansas City bassist Blair Bryant is on the bill of the free District Rhythms concert in the Power & Light District on Sunday, August 18.  Bryant pays tribute to Stanley Clarke in the embedded video.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Jayne McShann and a know-it-all jazz blogger discussed Jay McShann’s Live in Toyko 1990 on KCUR’s Up to Date program.

*The logistics of Kansas City’s jazz scene was among the topics reviewed by the same squirrelly blogger in an episode of Thursdays with Tim Finn on 90.9 The Bridge.

*Alan Hoskins filed a dispatch about the New Century Jazz Band for Wyandotte Daily.

*Here are the jazz-related categories and nominees as they’re listed in The Pitch’s Best of Kansas City 2019 award ballot: Best Jazz Artist: Alex Abramovitz, Eboni Fondren, Herschel McWilliams, Lonnie McFadden and Molly Hammer; Best Jazz Band: A La Mode, Alex Abramovitz and His Swing'n Kansas City Jazz Band, Grand Marquis, Herschel McWilliams Quartet and the Marcus Lewis Big Band; Best Jazz Event: Jazzoo, Kansas City Kansas Street Blues Festival, Phoenix Saturday Brunch, Prairie Village Jazz Fest; Best Jazz Venue: Black Dolphin, Green Lady Lounge, The Blue Room, The Majestic, The Phoenix.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Carl Kincaid- I was lucky enough to catch him at the KCKS Street Blues Festival several years ago, shortly before he died. He was amazing. And I got to speak with him and get his autograph after his set. He was so kind.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

I encountered my friend KC Jazz Lark shortly after making the suggested $10 donation for entry to the Musicians For Molly benefit concert at Mod Gallery on Sunday, July 14.  He informed me that he’d donated two of his most prized possessions to the fundraiser for Molly Hammer.  Although KC Jazz Lark is otherwise humble and gracious, he’d long boasted about his autographed posters from the sorely-missed Kansas City Jazz Festival.

I knew I was in big trouble.

As one of the organizers of the festival during the 1980s, KC Jazz Lark had every headliner sign corresponding concert posters.  Sure enough, autographs of an audacious clutch of jazz legends are inscribed in silver ink on the 1985 and 1986 posters that were displayed at the silent auction at Mod Gallery.  A partial list: Toshiko Akiyoshi, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Stan Getz, Al Grey, Percy Heath, Major Holley, Milt Jackson, Gus Johnson, Connie Kay, Andy Kirk, John Lewis, Herbie Mann, Jay McShann and Buddy Tate.

I bid slightly over the minimum for each poster, a sum that exceeds my airfare and lodging outlay for an upcoming trip to the Chicago Jazz Festival.  No one topped my opening salvo.  I’m now the proud owner of two unique pieces of jazz history.  My bank account took an unexpected hit, but the money went to a good cause.  And knowing that a miniscule moment in the lives of each jazz giant is in the room with me as I enjoy recordings like “Blue Clarinet Stomp” (1929), “Laura” (1953), “That’s All” (1955), “Fontessa” (1956), “Corcovado” (1964), “Memphis Underground” (1969) and “Trouble in Mind” (1981) enhances my appreciation of each classic.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Now's the Time: Kayla Waters

It’s a family tradition.  Kayla Waters, the daughter of smooth jazz fixture Kim Waters, makes similarly reassuring music.  She’s slated to perform at the Heart of America Hot Dog Festival on
Saturday, Aug. 10.  While I hope to catch Waters someday, I won't be in the Jazz District on August 10.  Last year’s festival was a hot mess.