The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra is the region’s most prominent big band, dedicated to preserving and advancing the tradition of iconic Kansas City jazz ensembles led by William “Count” Basie, Andy Kirk and Bennie Moten. Guest vocalist Marilyn Maye, after all, performed at the band's debut concert in 2003.
Currently led by artistic director and conductor Clint Ashlock, the large ensemble includes many of Kansas City’s most accomplished musicians. Longtime members of the aggregation include Jay Sollenberger, a trumpeter who has played in the groundbreaking band of Stan Kenton and with the ‘70s jazz-rock ensemble Chase; and Charles Williams, a lyrical pianist who leads a popular soul-oriented band.
The set list for Wednesday’s concert includes a variety of old and new holiday favorites, from the opening "Good Swing Wenceslas" through most of Vince Guaraldi’s "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Kathleen Holeman, the vocalist who duets with David Basse in this version of "Baby It's Cold Outside," is also scheduled to perform:
The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra's A Kansas City Christmas, 7 p.m. Wednesday, December 13, at Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway, Kansas City, Missouri, 64108; 816-994-7200. Clint Ashlock participates in a “jazz chat” at 6 p.m.
KCUR contributor Bill Brownlee blogs about Kansas City's jazz scene at Plastic Sax.