18th and Vine

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Greg Carroll, CEO of the American Jazz Museum since 2007, has announced his resignation, effective immediately.

In a news release announcing Carroll's resignation, museum board officers praised Carroll's leadership but gave no explanation for his sudden departure.

Cody Newill / KCUR

The 2nd Annual American Jazz Walk of Fame honored six jazz musicians with medallions on the sidewalk in front of the Gem Theater off 18th and Vine in Kansas City Saturday.

Jazz figures like Coleman Hawkins, Myra Taylor and Lester Young were honored posthumously, but longtime Kansas City jazz-organist Everette DeVan was there in person to receive the honor.

Michael Schmidt / Confluence

In downtown Kansas City, Mo., the stretch along 18th Street between the Crossroads Arts District and the 18th and Vine Jazz District is roughly a little over a mile — but this span includes 52.5 acres of paved surface lots. That's more than at Arrowhead Stadium and Kauffman Stadium combined.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

On First Fridays, the Crossroads Arts District attracts a crowd to an area transformed into a mecca for artist studios, galleries, restaurants, and shops. Just about a mile away, it’s a little quieter. But the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District has cultural amenities of its own, such as the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Efforts are underway to link the two districts along 18th Street.

C.J. Janovy

Kansas City's 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival filled the air behind the American Jazz Museum with music and barbecue smoke from early in the afternoon until late at night on Saturday, Oct. 11. The jams also went on all day inside the Gem Theater and the Blue Room. 

Although the American Jazz Museum brought in national talent including Roy Hargrove, Meshell Ndegeocello, Lucky Peterson, Jessica Care Moore and Midnight Star, plenty of area acts had stage time as well.

Esther Honig

If you’ve ever driven around the historic 18th & Vine neighborhood in downtown Kansas City, Mo., you might have noticed what looks like a castle. It appears as though it housed Missouri royalty, but in fact this four-story structure, chiseled out of yellow limestone, was originally designed as the city jail.

Built in 1897 with the title of “workhouse castle,” it held mostly petty offenders, vagrants and debtors. As a part of their sentence these inmates were required to work. Female prisoners sewed prison uniforms and the men labored for the city’s Public Works Department.

Terance Williams / Facebook

When Glenn North read a poem at the grand opening for the American Jazz Museum in 1997, something clicked.

From that moment on, the poet and the museum grew in tandem.  In 2004, North officially joined the museum's staff, establishing a nationally recognized spoken word scene at the museum's Blue Room.

North recently left his post as education manager and poet-in-residence. He plans to finish his master's degree and focus on his poetry.

Upon his departure, Central Standard invited him to sit down for a talk. Among the highlights:

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

For years, the old YMCA building was an eyesore at the entrance of the 18th and Vine District. But over the last few years, the façade has been restored and the windows replaced. And, on the south wall, a giant mural has gone up of the legendary baseball player, coach and keeper of the Negro Leagues flame Buck O’Neil. 

The Negro Leagues got their start in Kansas City, when eight independent black baseball teams met at the Paseo YMCA in 1920. Buck O'Neil played for the Kansas City Monarchs, and had a major role in opening the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

For more than eighty years, the small two-story building at 1823 Highland Avenue has been the heart of Kansas City jazz. 

Singer Myra Taylor was one of the last living links to Kansas City's jazz heyday of the 1930s. Taylor died Friday, December 9, 2011 at the age of 94.

According to The Kansas City Star:

Taylor had been under hospice care at the Swope Ridge Geriatric Center, 5900 Swope Parkway, for more than three months, said her manager, Dawayne Gilley. Her final performance was July 24 at Jardine’s, 4536 Main St., where she performed with the Wild Women of Kansas City, a jazz vocal quartet.