Molly Hammer is a prominent Kansas City actress and vocalist whose debut album, "Out of This World," was released on September 15. Produced and arranged by pianist Joe Cartwright, the 11-song album also features saxophonist Brad Gregory, bassist Steve Rigazzi, drummer Todd Strait and backing vocalists Molly Denninghoff and Jessalyn Kincaid.
"Out of This World" has plenty of up-tempo tracks, but Hammer excels on wrenching ballads like “Listen Here,” a penetrating song composed by Dave Frishberg (a distinctive songwriter best known for “Peel Me a Grape,” “I’m Hip” and “My Attorney Bernie”):
Profiling Hammer for KCUR ahead of her record's release, Monique Gabrielle Salazar noted that her album comes after a second diagnosis of breast cancer last year. From my perspective in the audience, Hammer's art hasn't suffered as a result of health challenges. As I wrote for The Kansas City Star in April, Hammer gave a stunning performance in "An Evening with George Gershwin" at MTH Theater. In her renditions of Gershwin, I saw a something in Hammer that I don't typically see on area jazz stages, leading me to argue she's “a worthy heir to torch singers like Rosemary Clooney.”
Molly Hammer performs at 8 p.m. on Friday, September 22 at The Black Dolphin, the new extension of the Green Lady Lounge (1813 Grand Boulevard); and at 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 23 at Repeal 18th, a new Prohibition-themed establishment is near the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport (1825 Buchanan Street).
KCUR contributor Bill Brownlee blogs about Kansas City's jazz scene at Plastic Sax.