Friday, August 28, 2020

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Eddie Moore, Hermon Mehari and Jackie Myers are among the musicians paying tribute to Charlie Parker in an episode of Eight One Sixty.

*Television news stations reported on area Charlie Parker celebrations herehere and here.

*The New York Times lists the best ways to observe the centennial of Charlie Parker’s birth.

*Marcus Lewis chatted with Joe Dimino.

*The Kansas City Star reports that Johnson County Community College is rescheduling its fall concerts.  The slate included an appearance by Larry Carlton.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Kansas City PBS- Just in case you haven't heard: On the centennial of Charlie "Bird" Parker's birth, we're taking a look back at the 21 years #Bird spent in #KansasCity and his lasting impression on present-day #KC jazz. Take our word for it, you don't want to miss this premiere! August 29!

(Original image of Gary Giddins’ Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Call Me Karen

I was taken aback when I tuned in to a livestream of a jazz gig at a Kansas City nightclub last week.  None of the musicians wore masks.  Neither did any of the six or seven members of the audience in the sightline of the stationary camera.  Aside from a mask draped around the neck of a patron, no indication of these abnormal times was evident.  I take pride in nearing or exceeding my goal of catching 365 individual music performances every year.  The past five months have been devastating on a personal level- live music is my passion- and from a financial perspective- I’m not being paid to preview and review concerts as a professional critic.  Even though it’s excruciating, I do my part by staying home.  It’s a shame so many other people abandoned the communal effort.  Thanks for prolonging the agony, jerks.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, August 21, 2020

Now's the Time: Charlie Parker

One of the most telling indications of Charlie Parker’s status as a pariah during his lifetime is the scarcity of video footage documenting the legend.  Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Hank Jones, Ray Brown and Buddy Rich pantomime to recordings in this 1950 clip.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Chuck Haddix and Jon McGraw chatted with Steve Kraske about the Charlie Parker centennial for 17 minutes.  McGraw also reviewed his initiatives with Joe Dimino.

*The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra postponed its fall concerts.

*Marc Myers published an appreciation of Charlie Parker.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Riverfront Times - <i>Miles Davis' former home in East St. Louis has been repurposed into a nonprofit museum with educational programs for children and teens. (link)

*From the American Jazz Museum: Live music is back in the Gem Theater! Social distancing will be required, with only 100 tickets available for each concert and masks mandatory.  The American Jazz Museum presents a mini-series befitting of Bird himself on August 21st, 22nd, 28th, and 29th… Friday, August 21st, 4:30pm - 7:00pm ($15): Gerald Spaits Quintet featuring Charles Perkins and Jack Lightfoot;  Saturday, August 22nd, 4:30pm - 7:00pm ($15): SearchingforCharlieParker, An Ode to Bird Featuring Houston Smith and Morgan Faw; Friday, August 28th, 4:30pm - 7:00pm ($15): Will Matthews Organ Trio; Saturday, August 29th, 7:00am - 7:00pm 12-hour jam session-- Session 1 (free), 7:00am - 11:45am: Matt Otto Quartet, Bryan Alford Quartet featuring Amber Underwood, Andrew Ouellette Trio; Session 2 (free), 12:15pm - 3:15pm: James Ward Band, Peter Schlamb Quintet; Session 3 ($15), 3:45pm - 7:00pm: Eclipse featuring Lisa Henry, Bobby Watson.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Double Dealing

The politician representing the Jazz District on the Kansas City City Council mistakenly cited the Mississippi bluesman Big Joe Williams as a local jazz hero several weeks ago.  She obviously meant Big Joe Turner.  Melissa Robinson felt obliged to cite past masters in her introduction to a publicly-funded Jazzy Jamdemic performance that attracted less than 50 live viewers. Apparently unaware of the explosion of live-streaming, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver repeatedly insisted that his Jazzy Jamedemic initiative was the world’s sole outlet for jazz performances during his appearances in the series.  In themselves, the slips aren’t a big deal, but the faux pas are emblematic of Kansas City’s fraught relationship with jazz.  De rigueur lip service without historical understanding or a genuine passion for the music results in abuse, waste and further erosion in the public’s tenuous perception of jazz in Kansas City.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, August 14, 2020

Now's the Time: Ben Kynard

I’m fairly certain the longtime Kansas City resident Ben Kynard is part of the saxophone section of Lionel Hampton’s big band in this lively clip.  I documented Kynyrd’s 2010 appearance at the American Jazz Museum here. Kynard died two years later.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Bobby Watson tells J.D. Considine a certain politician is a “jive motherf*cker” in a Downbeat profile.

*Brian Scarborough was interviewed on the Chicago Music Revealed vlog.

*Miguel Atwood-Ferguson’s subversive rendering of the 1950 album Charlie Parker with Strings at the 2012 Charlie Parker Festival at Marcus Garvey Park in New York is now available for streaming on YouTube.

*Gary Giddins will lead Joe Lovano, Charles McPherson, Grace Kelly and Antonio Hart in a discussion about Charlie Parker on August 29.

*Tweet of the Week: Howard Reich- Honoring Charlie Parker at his centennial (link)

*From Johnson County Community College: Our Recital Series are online this Fall! Our musicians are on stage right now recording their shows for your entertainment!... Now in their 32nd year, the hour-long recitals feature some of the most respected professional classical and jazz musicians in the Kansas City area… All events for this fall of 2020 will be presented VIRTUALLY with links to the previously recorded broadcast  prior to the events… Sept. 22 Doug Talley Quartet; Sept. 29 Bram Wijnands Duo; Oct. 6 Brian Scarborough Quintet; Oct. 13 Michael McClintock and Jeff Freling, guitars; Oct. 20 Adam Larson Quartet; Oct. 27 Joe Cartwright, piano; Nov. 3 Eclipse

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, August 10, 2020

Album Review: Brian Scarborough- Sunflower Song

I began tracking the steady ascent of Brian Scarborough even before I snapped the embedded photo of the young Kansas City trombonist at Homer’s Coffee Shop in 2017.  I’ve impatiently anticipated the release of his debut album since catching an astounding performance by Scarborough’s band at recordBar last year.  Released August 7, Sunflower Song is worth the wait.

Not only does the uncommonly elegant album showcase Scarborough’s talents as a trombonist and bandleader, Sunflower Song is an essential document of the artful component of Kansas City’s jazz scene.  In recruiting four of Kansas City’s most notable musicians- tenor saxophonist Matt Otto, guitarist Adam Schlozman, bassist Jeff Harshbarger and drummer Brian Steever- Scarborough is responsible for giving the rest of the world an opportunity to hear the magnificent sounds a small cadre of locally based fans of improvised music have enjoyed in recent years.  

Rather than dominating the nine tracks, Scarborough allows his bandmates equal footing.  The democratic collaboration pays homage to the cool West Coast jazz of the 1950s, an approach allowing Scarborough to honor the adventurous spirit of Bob Brookmeyer.  The late Kansas City native is Scarborough’s most obvious reference point.  The sound may be based on a venerable tradition, but there’s nothing stale about Sunflower Song.  

Serene on the surface, the album is deceptively subversive.  Otto invokes the underappreciated Jimmy Giuffre while Schlozman’s thorny solos reveal the influence of Thelonious Monk.  The stutter-step rhythms of “City Lights” highlight the synchronicity between Harshbarger and Steever.  Scarborough exhibits none of the youthful aggression you’d expect to hear on the debut album of a rising star.  

Immanuel Wilkins’ very fine Omega, the most prominent jazz album released August 7, is characterized by brash solos and innovative production tricks.  That’s clearly not Scarborough’s style.  Yet his reserved sensibility produced one of the most consequential acoustic jazz albums made entirely by Kansas City musicians in recent years.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Now's the Time: Ahmaad Alaadeen

Goofy jazz enthusiasts exclaim “Bird lives” as they celebrate the centennial of Charlie Parker’s birth this month.  The spirit of Ahmad Alaadeen also continues to resound in Kansas City.  Logan Richardson is among the late saxophonist’s notable disciples.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*KCUR surveys the Charlie Parker centennial celebration events in Kansas City this month.

*Calvin Wilson considers Charlie Parker’s legacy for KC Studio.

*Harvey Mason apparently references the conference rooms at the downtown Marriott hotel when he insists Kansas City has “lots of hotels…  with rooms named after famous jazz musicians… even streets may be named after them…” on Regina Carter’s new album
Swing States: Harmony in the Battleground.

*Tweet of the Week: ECMRecords- Finally,@PatMetheny’s complete ECM catalog of 11 albums, which includes such titles as Bright Size Life, Offramp, 80/81, is available as high-resolution masters for download and streaming: (link)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Exhibit Review: Saxophone Supreme at the American Jazz Museum

Chuck Haddix recently told me the Saxophone Supreme exhibit at the American Jazz Museum is like a CliffsNotes version of his 2013 book Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker(Plastic Sax review.)  A recent examination of the new installation Haddix co-curated with the American Jazz Museum’s Geri Sanders confirms his assessment.

Anchored by twelve handsome panels designed by Sean McCue of UMKC Libraries, Saxophone Supreme is a three-dimensional rendering of Haddix’s text.  Ephemera including album covers, biographies, performance contracts, artistic renderings and a menu from the second version of Birdland are displayed.  Several interactive sound clips are useful for visitors who bring their own headphones.  Here’s a link to a rendition of “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You”.  Haddix tells me it's otherwise unavailable.

I wholeheartedly recommend Saxophone Supreme to anyone who knows little about Parker.  Admission is free.  Yet nothing in the exhibit is new to me, nor does the array of artifacts deepen my understanding of Bird.  An edition of CliffsNotes can be an indispensable tool for an apprehensive student.  But when it comes to Parker, I insist on complete and unabridged editions in the form of a biographies such as Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)