jazz

Luke X. Martin / KCUR_89.3

Segment 1: Kansas' Third-Biggest School District Picks A New Leader

After a months-long hiring process, the Shawnee Mission School District Board of Education has decided on a new superintendent. We heard about the move, and about the future of one of the largest districts in Kansas and the metro.

Courtesy Stan Kessler

Anyone who's stepped inside a Kansas City jazz club during the past several decades has probably run into Stan Kessler, the impish trumpeter known for amusing pranks and soulful solos.

Kessler has played music in Kansas City for 40 years, serving as the jazz scene's crafty institutional memory and passionate conscience. He's seen a lot of ups and downs, but his new album, "Skywatcher," makes a career-defining statement, showcasing his formidable talent at the same time as it demonstrates the vitality of the regional scene.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Your might think combining jazz and a symphony would like trying to mix oil and water — they don't just go together. Yet jazz artists, including Kansas City's own Charlie Parker, have combined their playing with those of an orchestra to great results.

CBS Television / Paramount Pictures

You'd be forgiven for thinking a jazz club with a throwback feel would end up being a flop. You'd also be wrong. Today, we meet a local entrepreneur whose pair of nightclubs is helping the Kansas City jazz scene live on. Then, we listen to some of your favorite TV theme songs from the 1950s to today, and try to discover why the best of them stick so easily in your head. Sorry in advance for the earworms!

On our First Friday arts show: a local artist has been keeping a dream journal for over 40 years. In his new exhibit, he's brought recurring objects from his dreams to life through sculpture. Then, we talk to the star of a one-woman show about fashion icon Diana Vreeland, and a band conductor on how his group keeps the Kansas City sound alive ... and how they're taking a step to address the gender imbalance in jazz.

Guests:

Shawn CMH / Wikimedia Commons

At the turn of the 20th century, two sisters who were determined to provide medical care to Kansas City's underserved kids founded what became a local institution. Today, we learn about the women behind Children's Mercy Hospital. Then, jazz vocalist Deborah Brown reflects on her Kansas City roots and a music career that's led her around the world.

Courtesy Lonnie McFadden

A consummate entertainer, Lonnie McFadden is a Kansas City institution.

He's best known as the trumpet-playing half of the tap-dancing McFadden Brothers, in which Lonnie and his brother, Ronnie McFadden, entertain Las Vegas-style in the vein of Sammy Davis Jr. and Louis Prima.

Roberto Cabello / Flickr - CC

When jazz legend Branford Marsalis calls you "the greatest American musician that no one's ever heard of," you're doing something right (even if your P.R. may need a little work). Today, we meet that musician, Marcus Roberts, and learn about his remarkable life.

Courtesy BurnettMusic.com

Christopher Burnett is a prominent Kansas City saxophonist, band leader, instructor and raconteur. He also operates Artists Recording Collective, a record label that has released dozens of albums by jazz musicians from around the world.

Aleksey Kaznadey / kevinmahogany.com

Kevin Mahogany, the versatile and velvet-voiced vocalist who became one of the Kansas City jazz scene's more well-known exports, died Sunday. He was 59.

Mahogany had been living in Miami, but moved back to Kansas City in August after the sudden death of his wife, Allene Matthews Mahogany, over the summer, says Mahogany's sister, Carmen Julious.

The two had been married for 25 years, and Julious says Mahogany's grief had aggravated longer-term health issues.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

As always during this season, Kansas City musicians are booked for holiday gatherings.

"Christmas is the busiest time of year. We all have a million gigs," says Johnny Hamil, an area bass player and teacher (among his efforts to promote his instrument, Hamil lures esteemed bass players from around the world to town for his annual Kansas City Bass Workshop).

Courtesy Kansas City Jazz Orchestra

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.

ataelw / Flickr - CC

In August, Kansas City voters made any future streetcar expansions a little more complicated. Nevertheless, the Streetcar AuthorityKCATA and Port KC are convinced they can come up with $32 million to extend service from River Market to Berkley Riverfront Park.

The McFadden brothers are musicians, singers and tap dancers. They learned how to tap from their father, the legendary Smilin' Jimmy McFadden, and they've just received a 2017 Living Legends awards from the Tapology Music Institute, a national organization. Hear their story, which starts at 29th and Euclid.

Guests:

He's a jazz trombonist with an 18-piece big band, and he also tours with Janelle Monae. Meet Marcus Lewis, who has collaborated with two local rappers to put a new spin on their songs.

Plus: A new arts residency program on Troost, and we catch up with Sike Style, the man behind the colorful murals around town.

Guests:

Courtesy The Sextet

The Sextet is a jazz group led by bassist Robert Castillo, with saxophonist Max Levy, trumpeter Teddy Krulewich, trombonist Trevor Turla, guitarist Peter Marten and drummer Fritz Hutchison. Their penchant for soulful grooves and elements of funk will appeal to fans of like-minded Kansas City jazz groups like the Project H and Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Kansas-based singer Vanessa Thomas, who tours the country sharing a bill with Grammy Award-winning tumpeter Doc Severinson, doesn't know why she's wearing a cast in her baby pictures.

"It was a foot cast that went all the way up above my knee," she says.

The rest is lost in what she calls a no-man's land of forgotten memories. A story she knows is hers, but almost can't believe is true, except that paper files full of documentation insist that it is.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Humans tend to take time and space as a given. We are assured that in 60 seconds, a minute will have passed; after 59 more it will have been an hour. We assume our living spaces will not suddenly develop new real estate behind the closet wall. We generally understand objects' physicality and can discern area through depth perception and touch. Most of us (author not included) are aware enough of the actual reach of our limbs so as not to knock fragile objects to floors.

KCUR's Band Of The Week: Molly Hammer

Sep 20, 2017
Kevin Morgan

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.

Kevin Morgan

When Molly Hammer takes the stage in front of people who haven’t seen her, their first reaction may be curiosity.

Hammer is small, with a shock of bright red hair styled into a pageboy, her face serene under glaring white stage lights. In a venue where people know her, such as the Green Lady Lounge, her commanding presence creates an air you could manducate, and everyone in the cozy, dark booths seems to perk up a titch in anticipation.

Tory Garcia / Courtesy of Kemet Coleman

The Phantastics describe themselves as “dance floor activators.”

For the last six years, they’ve been activating local dance floors with songs that meld rap, jazz, gospel, funk and more.

“We definitely try to incorporate as many genres as possible to create not chaos, but a winding river of music,” rapper Kemet Coleman told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Courtesy Ryan Heinlein

Individual jazz musicians regularly hit multiple spots in a single night, but it’s far less common for an entire band to play three venues in a 12-hour span. But that's what The Project H, led by trombonist Ryan Heinlein, is doing in different parts of town on Saturday.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Micah Herman is a fine Kansas City jazz bassist. Although he’s not as recognized as other area jazz bassists Bob Bowman, Jeff Harshbarger, Dominique Sanders and Gerald Spaits, Herman is a similarly formidable player.

On Thursday night at The Ship, Herman leads what he promises will be “one big bebop jam session” as part of Kansas City's annual Charlie Parker Celebration, a series of performances intended to honor the legacy of the late genius from Kansas City.

Pixabay - CC

From a targeted shooting in Olathe to the president's so-called "travel ban," tensions over race, culture and religion are high. Today, we delve into two experiences in the Muslim community and learn what living in Trump's America has been like for Islamic people.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

It's been a year since the Kansas City Council approved $7 million in funding for projects in the 18th and Vine district, such as stabilizing historic buildings and adding new streetscaping. On Wednesday, city officials provided a progress report. 

Facebook / Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

The diminutive Kansas City vocalist Millie Edwards, occasionally introduced to audiences as "the little woman with a big voice," performs Sunday alongside Lori Tucker and Geneva Price as the Wild Women of Kansas City.

Edwards is equally adept at belting out cabaret, pop, blues and jazz material and performs regularly as a solo act at The Phoenix.

The Mighty Mo Combo

Today, Up To Date previews the Kansas City Fringe Festival with a look at two of this year's acts.

First, we find out what a group of Kansas City musicians are doing to bring the music of Ella Fitzgerald back to life. Then, we meet the playwright, actress, and University of Kansas professor who turned her cancer diagnosis into a one-woman comedic play.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

From the mainstreaming of social media to "fake news" indictments from the chief executive, the journalism industry is in the midst of sweeping transformation. Today, the dean of the Missouri School of Journalism explains how his school teaches new reporters to adapt to the current and future media environments.

Fantasy Records / Heinrich Klaffs / Creative Commons

Songs like Proud Mary and Midnight Train to Georgia are well-known and much-loved, but the versions that got radio play went through multiple iterations on the part of numerous song writers, musicians, and producers, whose names you may not find in the liner notes. Today, we hear the evolution stories of iconic American pop, rock, and R&B anthems with music writer and critic Marc Myers.  Then sports reporter Greg Echlin updates us on Missouri and Kansas Olympians.

Courtesy Blair Bryant

Blair Bryant is a young contemporary jazz bassist who says he's mastered more than 14 instruments.

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