Thursday, October 31, 2019

Now's the Time: The RSS Trio

The RSS Trio works the late shift at Green Lady Lounge on the evening of Friday, November 1.  The young organ trio maintains the same slot on the venue’s schedule through the end of the year.  The group flaunts convention on its new single “Allison”.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Smithsonian published an article about Charlie Parker’s other saxophone.

*Adam Larson was interviewed by Joe Dimino.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Steve Paul- This band: @stefonharris and Blackout. Stirring and uplifting concert tonight at @TheFollyTheater in #KC and great convo beforehand along with @MarcCaryMusic and Casey Benjamin (@stutzmcgee). Inspiring in many ways.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Concert Review: Stefon Harris and Blackout at the Folly Theater

Stefon Harris told an audience of about 300 that he and his colleagues intended to “organize vibration into motion” at the Folly Theater on Saturday, October 26.  That’s an alluring notion, but I would have enjoyed the concert even more had the bandleader allowed the members of Blackout to put backfields into motion.

Harris, a master of vibraphone and marimba, kept his New York based band of funk-inclined aces in swing mode.  Multi-instrumentalist Casey Benjamin and drummer Mark Colenburg are members of the groundbreaking Robert Glasper Experiment.  Keyboardist Marc Cary helped the late Roy Hargrove integrate jazz with hip-hop and R&B.  The accomplished bassist Ben Williams is part of Pat Metheny’s Unity Group.

The temperate tone wasn’t entirely surprising.  Blackout’s 2018 album Sonic Creed is a bit bland.  Yet Harris’ melodic gift and winning showmanship almost negated the frustrating absence of  funk.  Even so, a pair of silky Quiet Storm ballads featuring Benjamin on vocoder and keytar were the highlights of the low-key evening.  The selections provided tantalizing hints of how a very good performance might easily have been transformed into the best show of the year.

Setlist: Dat Dere, Gentle Wind, Chasin’ Kendall, Now, Let’s Take a Trip to the Sky, improvisation/It Could Happen to You/Bye Bye Blackbird, For You, The Cape Verdean Blues

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, October 25, 2019

Now's the Time: Laura Taglialatela

The Italian vocalist Laura Taglialatela will perform with her Ropeadope labelmate Logan Richardson at the Blue Room on Friday, October 25.  The spiritual nature of the song in the embedded video reflects the searching tone of her 2018 debut album.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra’s appearance on Star Sessions is available for streaming.

*The Kansas City Star recommends Laura Taglialatela’s performance at the Blue Room.

*Pat Metheny was named the guitarist of the year in the 84th Annual Readers Poll.

*Carl Tribble has died.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Dominique Sanders- if your a band leader and you call multiple rehearsals and extra stuff for a 100$ gig that leads to nothing else but that gig........ YOU ARE SUPER WEAK hahahah

*From a press release: Jazz Vocalist and Kansas City jazz icon, David Basse, will make a rare appearance in the Kansas City northland on Friday, November 15, when he brings his trio to the Corbin Theater in Liberty, Missouri. For those Kansas City fans who are used to experiencing David's music in clubs & lounges, this performance will showcase his unique talents in a concert, theater setting. The Corbin is a small, 60 seat venue…  Tickets are $15.00.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Album Review: The Karrin Allyson Sextet- Shoulder to Shoulder: Centennial Tribute to Women’s Suffrage

Karrin Allyson doesn’t lack ambition.  The jazz-oriented artist who rose to prominence while based in Kansas City collaborates with an impressive array of prominent friends on her unconventional new project.  Allyson and a core band of trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, saxophonist Mindi Abair, pianist Helen Sung, bassist Endea Owens and drummer Allison Miller are joined by stars including rapper Rapsody, jazz stalwart Kurt Elling, R&B standout Lalah Hathaway, violinist Regina Carter and singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash on Shoulder to Shoulder: Centennial Tribute to Women’s Suffrage.  The performances are impeccable, but the primary purpose of the concept album is edification rather than entertainment.  Anyone who appreciates feminism, Sweet Honey in the Rock and #metoo is certain to be inspired by Allyson’s important history lesson.

(Original image of Karrin Allyson and Houston Person by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Now's the Time: The Casualties of Jazz

Three jazz groups prominently featuring an organ- OJT, Guitar Elation and Matt Hopper’s Organ Trio- will energize patrons of Green Lady Lounge on Thursday, October 17.  A very different organ-oriented group from Los Angeles will perform for unsuspecting rock fans seven blocks away.  The Casualties of Jazz, an organ trio specializing in Black Sabbath covers, will open for the Raconteurs at the Midland theater.  The group interprets the 1970 jam “Fairies Wear Boots” in the embedded video.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Bobby Watson chatted with Brian Ellison on KCUR’s Up To Date.

*The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra received coverage from Joe Dimino, Kansas City Live!, Fox4KC and KMBC last week.

*Molly Hammer discussed her health travails with a television reporter.

*The Kansas City Star previewed concerts by Herb Alpert and Norman Brown.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Steph Irwin- Green lady lounge always lit

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, October 14, 2019

Concert Review: Tatsuya Nakatani at the Ship

For a recital featuring a manic percussionist who blows into cymbals and mercilessly batters small instruments, Tatsuya Nakatani’s appearance at the 1900 Building in April was a remarkably formal affair.  (Plastic Sax review.)

Tucked into a corner of the West Bottoms speakeasy the Ship with keyboardist Shawn E. Hansen, steel guitarist Mike Stover and bassist Jeff Harshbarger, Nakatani gave a pleasingly casual performance with an entirely different sound on Wednesday, October 9.

Saxophonist Assif Tsahar accentuated Nakatani’s sharp edges at the 1900 Building six months ago, but the Kansas City based musicians situated the percussionist’s enormous bag of improvisational tricks in a luxurious bed of hypnotic grooves.  Hansen added surgical slashes of melody, Stover contributed spooky drones and Harbarger provided a vigorous rhythmic pulse. 

What could have been a self-indulgent mess was instead
an exercise in spellbinding minimalism.  I was obligated to leave 45 minutes into the opening jam but I’d like to think the otherworldly quartet didn’t let up for another two hours.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, October 11, 2019

Now's the Time: Benny Golson

It’s astounding that the saxophonist playing alongside Lee Morgan, Bobby Timmons, Jymie Merritt and Art Blakey in the embedded video from 1958 continues to spread his swinging message in appearances around the world.  Benny Golson, 90, was the hippest, smartest and funniest person in the room during a master class session at Johnson County Community College yesterday afternoon.  He performs with the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra at Helzberg Hall on Friday, October 11.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The relevant results of the The Pitch’s annual readers poll follow without comment.  Best Jazz Venue: Green Lady Lounge; Best Blues Venue: Green Lady Lounge; Best Nightclub: Green Lady Lounge; Best Jazz Artist: Lonnie McFadden; Best Jazz Band: A La Mode; Best Jazz Event: Jazzoo; Best Vocalist: Molly Hammer.

*The Kansas City Star recommends the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra’s  forthcoming concert with Benny Golson.

*In an introduction to an interview with Blair Bryant, the Crazeology podcast suggests that “many people who live here can’t remember the last time they’ve actually listened to the music. Some have never even gone to a performance, even though several clubs have live jazz every night of the week.”

*Tweet o’ the Week: American Jazz Museum- Looking for the perfect space to host your holiday party? Email for more information. The season is filling up quickly!

*From an event’s ticket solicitation: Join us at Greenwood Social Hall for a unique international jazz celebration on Thursday October 10th at 7 pm, presented by Hannover Committee, Sister Cities Association of Kansas City.  The band will swing some classic Kansas City sounds from the songbook of Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton. Special guest Lothar Krist will bring his friends from Hannover Germany and Ghent Belgium to play with Greg Carroll and the crew from Kansas City.  A second performance takes place at SoirĂ©e Steak & Oyster House on Saturday, October 12.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Book Review: Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges by Con Chapman

“The birth of one style in an art form generally means the death of another,” Con Chapman declares in his illuminating new biography Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges.  The author is referring to Charlie Parker’s displacement of Hodges as jazz’s preeminent saxophonist.  Parker is revered in his hometown of Kansas City and throughout the world.  Yet his innovations were almost as disruptive to the musical landscape as the Beatles’ appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Chapman laments “the depths of obscurity to which the man who was once one of the most famous saxophonists in the world had fallen.”  His biography is a noble attempt to restore Hodges’ place of importance.  Rabbit’s Blues makes a strong case for Hodges as an essential link between Sidney Bechet and John Coltrane and is a convincing defence of the sensuous swing that Parker rendered unfashionable.

The unapologetically romantic Hodges was rarely cloying.  When considering Hodges’ unlikely album with the “white square” Lawrence Welk, Chapman suggests “one need only compare a latter-day sentimentalist on the soprano sax such as Kenny G to Hodges to detect the difference between emotion used in the service of melody and emotional technique used as superficial decoration, like gingerbread trim on a Victorian house.”

In addition to faithfully documenting the decades Hodges spent as one of the most celebrated members of the orchestras led by Duke Ellington, Chapman paints a vivid portrait of a complicated man who successfully overcame the racial discrimination, music industry misdeeds and substance abuse pandemic associated with his times.

Chapman documents Hodges’ recording sessions in fastidious detail.  Much of Hodges’ most essential work was released under the banner of the Ellington band or with collaborators like Wild Bill Davis.  Tracking down his individual tracks and complete albums on streaming services or music retailers isn’t always easy.  The failure to include a discography in Rabbit’s Blues, consequently, is frustrating.  Yet Chapman’s persuasive case for Hodges’ art is entirely successful.  Bingeing on Rabbit’s timeless recordings caused this appreciative reader to begin to lament Bird’s bop revolution.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Now's the Time: The Branford Marsalis Quartet

It’s possible that the Branford Marsalis Quartet is the best mainstream jazz group in the world.  The embedded video and the ensemble’s latest album The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul demonstrate that the saxophonist, pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner possess spectacular chemistry.  The group performs at the Folly Theater on Friday, October 4.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Sextet uploaded a brief recap of its recent album release show and its Star Sessions appearance (here’s one of four segments) to YouTube.

*The Kansas City Star recommended a concert by the Branford Marsalis Quartet.

*“That’s My Jazz”, the 13-minute documentary about Milt Abel Jr. and his father first mentioned at this site in March, now streams online.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Johnson County Community College- We have your Thursday night plans! Brighten your mood with memorable melodies and toe-tapping jazz and blues from the Midnight Express Jazz Band and Faculty Quintet.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)