jazz

Courtesy Victor & Penny

The delightful vocalist Erin McGrane and the accomplished guitarist Jeff Freling lead the Kansas City ensemble Victor & Penny.

They once described their music as “antique pop,” but now they say it's "swing-infused folk-jazz" — based on the gypsy jazz tradition, it's a nostalgic sound more closely rooted in styles associated with Paris and New Orleans than Kansas City.

Courtesy Everette DeVan

Hammond B3 organist Everette DeVan is a beloved dean of Kansas City’s jazz scene.

Though the popularity of DeVan’s good-time, organ-based jazz peaked about 50 years ago, the throwback style gets revived several times a week at the Green Lady Lounge. Organist Chris Hazelton and guitarist Matt Hopper are among the younger Kansas City musicians DeVan has mentored.

Courtesy Trombone Shorty

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect developments since its publication Wednesday afternoon.

Kansas City has another chance to get the concept of a jazz festival right — though its rollout suggested organizers were not yet ready for the national stage.

Courtesy Through A Glass Productions

The Kansas City Symphony has released an album of music it commissioned from one of America's most promising composers. We learn about that collaboration, and about the composer's creative process. Then, Langston Hughes lived in Lawrence until just after high school, but still managed to leave a legacy of activism there.

Courtesy A La Mode

A La Mode is a Kansas City hot jazz ensemble led by guitarist Clayton DeLong and vocalist Jesica “Baby J” Poell, with performances this weekend.

3 reasons we're listening to A La Mode this week:

Courtesy Dino Massa

The Dino Massa Kansas City Quintet
Echoes of Europe (Artists Recording Collective)

Echoes of Europe, a collaboration between the Italian pianist Dino Masso and jazz musicians based in the Kansas City area, is the result of a chance encounter in Naples in 1990.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com/

Mark Bedell faces a big challenge; leading Kansas City Public Schools back to full accreditation. Today, the superintendent talks about his first sixth months on the job, and his plans to improve grades and raise graduation rates. Then, jazz icon Ramsey Lewis explains how he's using his piano to commemorate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Courtesy Mbird

Mbird
MercyFlight

Megan Birdsall has long been a Kansas City jazz darling, her slight presence a contradiction to the voice that's filled the corners of almost every jazz club in town. But to peg her in such a niche would be a mistake, as she and her band Mbird prove with their new release, MercyFlight.

Courtesy A La Mode

A La Mode
C’est Si Bon

Gypsy jazz — or, probably more appropriately, Django jazz — is a booming style in Kansas City.

This sub-genre, built around the silky runs and inimitable swing of guitarist Django Reinhardt in the same way bluegrass grew around Bill Monroe’s mandolin, pops up periodically around the world, and now it’s our turn.

Steve Mundinger / jazzday.com

We air highlights of conversations with performing artists from the Kansas City area who wowed audiences here and across the country. Actress Cinnamon Schultz explains how she tackled the complex role of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire. Operatic tenor Ben Bliss recalls meeting Placido Domingo for the first time and Nedra Dixon brought Billie Holiday to life on stage. Finally, the great Bobby Watson, explains what happened when he took a wrong turn while in the White House for International Jazz Day.

Paul Andrews

The world doesn’t need any more Christmas music. But with the complex emotions of the season so unavoidable, songwriters like David George can be forgiven for succumbing to them – especially when it results in more risqué holiday tunes, which the world might be able to use.

Clint Ashlock

The Hammond B-3 organ is one of the most recognizable sounds in American music. Kansas City musician Chris Hazelton plays that instrument on his new record, Soul Jazz Fridays, recorded live with his band Boogaloo 7, at the Green Lady Lounge.

Hazelton spoke with the Fish Fry about the history of soul jazz music in Kansas City.

For two years now, Chris Hazelton’s septet Boogaloo7 has performed every Friday at the Green Lady Lounge. This Friday, they release a record documenting the sound of that residency.

3 reasons we're listening to Chris Hazelton's Boogalo 7 this week:

1. Hazelton, 31, a soul-jazz organist based in Kansas City, was mentored by the elder statesman Everette DeVan.

With the opening of relations to Cuba, and Kansas City's recent focus on Cuban photography and art, we look at Cuban influence on Kansas City culture over time. We then broaden the conversation to consider the intersecting Cuban and Afro-Latino identities in the metro area.

Guests:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Jazz is all about creativity and freedom, but casual listeners can sometimes find deciphering it a chore. Today, we learn How to Listen to Jazz. Then, they say everything's up to date in Kansas City, but are we a "world class" locale? Finally, a winded Brian McTavish presents his Weekend To-Do List.

Andrea Canter

Karrin Allyson is one of the most notable jazz musicians to emerge from Kansas City in recent decades. She returns to her former stomping grounds for a benefit concert at the Folly Theater on Friday.

3 reasons we're listening to Karrin Allyson this week:

1. Allyson was born in Great Bend, Kansas, and honed her chops in Kansas City clubs before moving to New York.

When Anthony Ladesich found his father's youthful correspondence with an old Navy friend on a stack of reel-to-reel tapes, he also found so much more: a portal into Kansas City's jazz history, and a way of keeping his dad with him a little longer.

Plus, for the first time ever, a student was admitted to UMKC Conservatory's composition program using the computer as his instrument.

This is an encore edition of Central Standard.

Guests:

Like a good story, a song changes over time as it passes through different voices. We explore the Anatomy of a Song with writer and Wall Street Journal contributor Marc Myers, who recollects the oral histories behind some of the greatest classics in the past fifty years.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

When the American Jazz Museum unveils a new mural during First Friday festivities on November 4, it won't just reflect the 18th and Vine District's lively and colorful jazz history. It's also a statement about today, its lead painter says.

"This project is an effort to show the community how important it is to work together," says lead artist Michael Toombs, the founder and director of Storyteller's Inc.

Courtesy Eddie Moore

Originally from Houston, Eddie Moore, 30, moved to Kansas City in 2010. On Saturday, he and his band the Outer Circle perform at a release party for their new album Kings & Queens.

3 reasons we're listening to Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle this week:

1. Not only is Moore one of the only keyboardists in town who can play both gospel-infused and conventional post-bop forms of jazz, Moore he can occasionally be heard playing with rock, reggae and hip-hop ensembles.

You know Chuck Haddix as host of KCUR's Fish Fry, but his day job is director of UMKC's Marr Sound Archives. He finds truly surprising audio clips while working there, and he shares some with us in this edition of Up to Date. "It's like Christmas everyday," he says.

3 Reasons We're Listening To Dan Thomas This Week

Sep 7, 2016
Courtesy Dan Thomas

Jazz saxophonist Dan Thomas opens for Marilyn Maye this weekend.

Thomas is the associate director of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance. He's also the bandleader of Voyage, whose other members are pianist Wayne Hawkins, bassist Forest Stewart and drummer Mike Warren (no relation to the KCUR contributor of the same name).

Courtesy Eddie Moore

Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle
Kings & Queens (Ropeadope Records)

Eddie Moore is diligently pulling Kansas City’s jazz scene into the 21st century. Since moving here from Houston in 2010, the 30-year-old keyboardist has done as much as any jazz-oriented musician to bring Kansas City up to date.

Charlie Parker was born on Aug. 29, 1920. For three years now, Kansas City jazz organizations have marked his birthday week with a Charlie Parker Celebration, trying to increase hometown appreciation for the influential jazz saxophonist.

Jam sessions are about more than just "noodling" on a horn or keyboard. Saxophonist Tivon Pennicott says jamming is a great way to socialize with other musicians and see how your skills stack up. He's joined by bassist Bill McKemy, who is the director of Education and Public Programs at the American Jazz Museum.

The end of Billie Holiday's musical career is infamous because of her drug and alcohol abuse, not to mention her tumultuous relationships with men. That's the Billie Holiday that actress Nedra Dixon is taking on in her latest role. Dixon says that, despite the drama, Lady Day "left a legacy of song and style unlike any other."

At the turn of the 20th Century, Kansas City was known for more than just a raucous drinking and gambling scene. The "Paris of the Plains" also served as a center for new, syncopated styles of ragtime, blues and jazz. With the music came an assemblage of composers and music publishers who called KC home.

Guest:

Charlie Parker
Unheard Bird: The Unissued Takes (Verve/Universal Music)

Sounding exasperated, someone in the studio production crew sighs “take three” after Charlie Parker’s imperfect version of “Passport,” one of 58 previously unreleased tracks on Unheard Bird: The Unissued Takes.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

As the Kansas City Council considers more than $27 million in new investments in the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District, leaders of the district’s oldest landmark want to make sure City Hall respects the special status of the Mutual Musicians Foundation.

It’s a sacred place not just because alcohol flows legally there after hours.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Theater directors who take on Shakespeare, as Sidonie Garrett does every summer, have an interesting first task ahead of them: Deciding where and when to set their plays.

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