Sunday, December 29, 2019

Bobby Watson: The Plastic Sax Person of the Decade

The Bobby Watson era in Kansas City is almost over.  The hometown hero transformed the area’s music scene soon after becoming the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2000.  He stepped down this year.

Watson shaped the sound of the city in his own sonic image through his persuasive personality and his astounding talent during his twenty-year tenure.  The dominant sound on Kansas City’s jazz scene will continue to be a variation of the style he characterizes as post-Motown bop for the foreseeable future.

Watson was named the Plastic Sax Person of the Decade in 2009.  He would have earned the same designation in 2019 even if he’d restricted his activities to teaching.

Yet he’s toured incessantly and made dozens of stellar local performances.  Recent additions to his discography include Check Cashing Day (2013), Made in America (2017) and Bird at 101 (2019).  One of his signature compositions is titled “In Case You Missed It,” but Watson’s profound impact on Kansas City is impossible to overlook.

(Original image of Watson by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, December 27, 2019

Now's the Time: Max Groove

Holiday celebrants at the Green Lady Lounge will ring in 2020 to the swinging sound of the Max Groove Organ Trio on New Year’s Eve.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*A library’s jazz program was documented by Joe Dimino.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Chris Burnett- Thanks @BJJansen and @424Lounge The LHS students from the jazz band and an alumnus who now attends Washburn University sat in. They had fun and did really well.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Album Review: Eldar Djangirov- Letter to Liz

I hadn’t realized Bill Evans’ “Waltz for Debby” is a seasonal song in the tradition of “Silent Night.”  And did you know “It Might as Well Be Spring” conveys the somber sentiment of the “What Child Is This”?  Eldar Djangirov’s persuasive Letter to Liz challenges conventional assumptions about jazz standards.  Released without advance notice three days ago, the solo piano album by the former Kansas City resident opens with an interpretation of “Amazing Grace.”  Djangirov’s tender approach to the hymn sets a contemplative tone.  Letter to Liz contradicts Djangirov’s reputation as an excitable pianist prone to excess.  He lets loose only on the final track, an appropriately rousing version of Art Tatum’s “Tiger Rag.”  “Waltz for Debby” and “It Might as Well Be Spring” may not really be holiday songs, but Djangarov’s heavenly release acts as a refreshing balm amid the clamor associated with the final days of December.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Now's the Time: Dave Scott

The New York based trumpeter Dave Scott returns to his old stomping grounds for a couple appearances including a headlining show at RecordBar on Sunday, December 29.  His new album In Search of Hipness is one of the most intriguing releases of the year by a jazz musician affiliated with Kansas City.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Rashida Phillips is the new Executive Director of the American Jazz Museum.  A press release is excerpted below.

*The impetus behind Musicians Appreciation Day is addressed by Gerald Dunn in Luke Martin’s feature for KCUR.

*A performance by Marcus Lewis’ Brass & Boujee is among The Kansas City Star’s lastest concert recommendations.

*Pat Metheny received a honorary degree from the University of Missouri on December 14. (Video stream.)

*Smoke Jazz Club created a promotional video for the recently released Bird at 100 album featuring Bobby Watson.

*Kent Rausch chatted with Joe Dimino.

*Steve Kraske shared a holiday song by Karrin Allyson on KCUR’s Up To Date.

*Harold O’Neal announced the release of his next album.

*Tweet o’ the Week: American Jazz Museum- This Wednesday at 7:00 pm Kansas City Jazz Academy student combos are showcasing their talents on the Gem Theater stage. Check out the link below for more info!

*From a press release: The American Jazz Museum Board of Directors has named Rashida Phillips as the Museum’s executive director, beginning January, 2020. Phillips, an active performer and jazz vocalist, will be leaving her post as senior director, community ventures at the Old Town School of Folk Music, in Chicago, Ill., where she oversees the school’s community-based education programs.  Phillips was born and raised in St. Louis. Her previous experience includes director of education and youth initiatives at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education, the Merit School of Music, and the Chicago Children’s Museum. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and a Master’s in Jazz Studies from Rutgers University…. Ralph Caro, who has served in the interim executive director position since March 2019, will assist Phillips with the transition.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Logan Richardson: The Plastic Sax Person of the Year

The most encouraging moment of 2019 on Kansas City’s jazz scene transpired at the Ship on September 11.  Several dozen people in their twenties and thirties were transfixed by a band led by Logan Richardson.  As the saxophonist, vibraphonist Peter Schlamb, bassist Dominique Sanders and drummer Ryan Lee locked in on a mesmerizing groove, the sort of rarified sound associated with the innovative jazz hubs of Chicago, Los Angeles and London made an all-too-uncommon appearance in Kansas City.  Long based in Europe, Richardson seemed to spend more time in his hometown in 2019.  He elevated the playing of his contemporaries in his public performances in Kansas City.  He also contributed to Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s Grammy nominated Ancestral Recall album and released the bold track “Her” on December 13.  Plastic Sax has documented Richardson’s ascent for more than ten years.  His designation as the Plastic Sax Person of the Year is overdue.

The previous recipients of Plastic Sax's Person of the Year award are Peter Schlamb (2018), John Scott (2017),  Eddie Moore (2016), Larry Kopitnik (2015), Deborah Brown (2014), Stan Kessler (2013), Doug and Lori Chandler (2012), Jeff Harshbarger (2011), Mark Lowrey (2010) and Hermon Mehari (2009).  Bobby Watson was named the Plastic Sax Person of the Decade in 2009.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Now's the Time: Stanley Clarke

Plastic Sax might not exist without Stanley Clarke.  The bassist’s 1976 radio hit “School Days” enlarged the ears of the author of this blog when he was a child.  The Church of Scientology of Kansas City hosts a free concert by Clarke and Mark Isham on Tuesday, December 17.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Church of Scientology of Kansas City is presenting a free concert by Stanley Clarke and Mark Isham on Tuesday, December 17.  The posted show time is 7 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

*Stephen Martin shared insights into Kansas City’s jazz scene with Live Jazz KC.

*Tim Finn reviewed a concert by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

*The Kansas City Star previewed the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra’s annual holiday concert.

*Matt Villinger’s “Blue Trance” was hailed as one of the best tracks of 2019 on an episode of the Eight One Sixty radio show.

*Bill Frisell will return to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on March 4, 2020.  (Tip via PF.)

*Tweet o’ the Week: Dominique Sanders- If Spotify went up to 1$ per spin most of the ppl crying would still only come out with 1,200$ at the end of the year

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Plastic Sax’s Favorite Albums and Performances of 2019

Favorite Albums by Kansas City Artists
1. The Sextet- Among Friends (KCUR audio feature.)
2. Matt Villinger- All Day (Plastic Sax review.)
3. Adam Larson- Listen With Your Eyes (Plastic Sax review.)
4. Jay McShann- Live in Tokyo 1990 (KCUR audio feature.)
5. Wing Walker Orchestra- Hazel (Plastic Sax review.)
6. Norman Brown- The Highest Act of Love (Plastic Sax review.)
7. Julian Vaughn- Supreme (Plastic Sax review.)
8. Dave Scott- In Search of Hipness (Plastic Sax review.)
9. Myers Swingset- The State of This City (Plastic Sax review.)
10. Karrin Allyson Sextet- Shoulder to Shoulder: Centennial Tribute to Women’s Suffrage (Plastic Sax review.)

Favorite Albums by Artists From Elsewhere
1. The Art Ensemble of Chicago- We Are On the Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration
2. Flying Lotus- Flamagra
3. Kris Davis- Diatom Ribbons
4. Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan- Epistrophy
5. Laura Jurd- Stepping Back, Jumping In
6. G. Calvin Weston- Dust and Ash
7. Matana Roberts- Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis
8. Jaimie Branch- Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise
9. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah- Ancestral Recall
10. Terri Lyne Carrington- Waiting Game

Favorite Performances by Kansas City Artists
1. Logan Richardson’s Blues People- Capsule (Plastic Sax review).
2. The Sextet- RecordBar (Instagram clip.)
3. Bobby Watson & Horizon- White Recital Hall (Plastic Sax review.)
4. Jerry Hahn and Danny Embrey- Recital Hall at the Carlsen Center
5. Matt Otto Quartet- Black Dolphin (Plastic Sax review.)
6. Ben Tervort’s Classically Trained- Westport Coffee House (Plastic Sax review.)
7. Rod Fleeman and Gerald Spaits- Green Lady Lounge
8. Brian Scarborough Quintet- RecordBar (Plastic Sax review.)
9. Peter Schlamb Trio- Capsule (Plastic Sax review.)
10. Guitar Elation- Green Lady Lounge (Instagram clip.)

Favorite Performances by Artists From Elsewhere
1. Aaron Parks’ Little Big- Blue Room (Plastic Sax review.)
2. Ehud Ettun and Henrique Eisenmann- 1900 Building (Plastic Sax review.)
3. Tatsuya Nakatani and Assif Tsahar- 1900 Building (Plastic Sax review.)
4. Snarky Puppy- Muriel Kauffman Theatre (Plastic Sax review.)
5. Stefon Harris & Blackout- Folly Theater (Plastic Sax review.)
6. Ryan Keberle & Catharsis- Mod Gallery (Plastic Sax review.)
7. Der Lange Schatten- Blue Room (Plastic Sax review.)
8. The Chicago Plan- Blue Room (Plastic Sax review.)
9. Tatsuya Nakatani- The Ship (Plastic Sax review.)
10. Joshua Redman Quartet- Folly Theater (Plastic Sax review.)

Plastic Sax conducted similar exercises in 2018, 2017, 2016 (albums and performances), 2015, 2014 (albums and performances), 2013 (albums and performances), 2012, 2011 and 2010.

(Original image of the Peter Schlamb Trio at Capsule by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Now's the Time: The Messthetics

Many longtime associates of the man behind the curtains at Plastic Sax know that the pursuit of a viable fusion of punk and jazz is his white whale.  The Messthetics, the trio of guitarist Anthony Pirog and Fugazi’s rhythm section of Joe Lally and Brendan Canty, come tantalizingly close to achieving a convincing version of that seemingly incongruous synthesis.  Messthetics performs at RecordBar on Tuesday, December 10.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Chris Hazelton chatted with a Canadian journalist.

*The Kansas City Star previewed concerts by Julian Vaughn, the Messthetics and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

*Wynton Marsalis spoke to Patrick Neas in advance of his concert at the Midland theater.

*Wing Walker Orchestra’s Hazel and Joyce DiDonato’s Songplay, albums with ties to Kansas City, are among the 272 titles given a Best Albums of 2019 designation by Downbeat magazine.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Karen Abrams- Hit up a bit of the black music scene at 18th & Vine in Kansas City - jazz, blues and trap music bar/ Raiders Party in one block. Tomorrow is a BBQ spot. Weirdly dope so far.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Concert Review: Logan Richardson’s Blues People at Capsule

“Charlie Parker was trap.”  The declaration was among the provocative statements made by Logan Richardson during a bracing performance at Capsule on Thanksgiving.  An audience of about 60 at the free show heard Richardson, vibraphonist Peter Schlamb, bassist Dominique Sanders and drummer Ryan J. Lee honor the most important musician from Kansas City by advancing Parker’s innovations.  Defiant, confrontational and extremely loud, the plugged-in quartet ingeniously transferred Bird’s vision to a futuristic- and yes, trap-informed- setting.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)