In the course of Kansas City jazz, sometimes we end up with a month’s worth of distinctive events in the space of just one week. This is one of those weeks.
The week’s schedule is heavy on holiday-related jazz happenings but not limited to them. There’s a lot of territory to cover here, so we’ll take the major shows day by day:
Sunday, Dec. 4: Pianist Tim Whitmer is making a tradition of his Jazz Carol Fest. The 2016 edition brings together artists of different generations and genres for a memorable start on the holiday season. And you’re encouraged to sing along. The lineup features, among many others, singers Kelley Hunt, Diane “Mama” Ray, Molly Hammer and the Wild Women (Geneva Price, Lori Tucker and Millie Edwards); keyboardist Greg Meise; the Kansas City Bass Quartet (James Albright, Gerald Spaits, Ben Leifer and Tim Brewer) and a house band featuring organist Everette DeVan, guitarist Rod Fleeman, sax man Todd Wilkinson and trumpeter Stan Kessler. The event is at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Community Christian Church, 4601 Main St.; tickets are $20 in advance at community-christian.org or $25 at the door. Proceeds go to relief and development efforts of Week of Compassion, WeekOfCompassion.org.
Tuesday, Dec. 6: The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra has taken up the Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn version of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” before, but never like this. For the 2016 edition, leader Clint Ashlock and band swing the holiday favorite out even further by adding new arrangements of other numbers from the original ballet. It’s unveiled at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $20 to $55; call 816-994-7222 or check KauffmanCenter.org.
Friday, Dec. 9: Tenor saxophonist Tim Warfield isn’t a famous name, but that’s OK — he’s not a dime-a-dozen player by any means, having held his own in the company of bassist Christian McBride, trumpeters Nicholas Payton and Marlon Jordan, pianist Cyrus Chestnut and many others. Some years ago, Warfield began cooking up arrangements of holiday favorites that wouldn’t compromise either the originals or the modern-jazz integrity of his band and his playing. Now he has a whole evening of holiday material re-interpreted in a modern-jazz vein, and a fine group to play it. His Jazzy Christmas band comes to town at 8 p.m. Friday at the Gem Theater, 1615 E. 18th St. Tickets are $45. Check ticketmaster.com or call 816-474-6262.
Saturday, Dec. 10: Singer Cécile McLorin Salvant is a prime candidate for Next Big Thing among jazz vocalists, with a win in the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition and a 2016 Grammy award for Best Jazz Vocal Album to her credit. And she’s not even 30 yet. The classically trained Salvant sometimes draws comparisons to Sarah Vaughan for her range, her technique and her interpretive audacity. Kansas Citians get to experience all those things when she comes to the Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St., at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $20 to $50. Call 816-474-4444 or visit FollyTheater.org.
Saturday, Dec. 10: The Owen/Cox Dance Group’s production of “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” the most radical alternative version of the “Nutcracker” in town, has returned. The story brings back some of the darker elements of the original E.T.A. Hoffmann tale; Jennifer Owen did the choreography, several of the most creative musicians in town made the music, and Brad Cox leads the People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City. The show is at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Dec. 11 in the Polsky Theater at Johnson County Community College. Tickets are $12 to $25; check OwenCoxDance.org.
▪ Highlights at the Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., include singer Molly Hammer at 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, followed by trumpeter Stan Kessler’s Playground at 9:30 p.m.; the group BVibe at 9 p.m. Monday; organist Chris Hazelton’s trio at 6 p.m. Tuesday, followed by bassist Gerald Spaits’ trio at 9:30 p.m.; drummer Natalie Bates’ trio at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, followed by organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 9 p.m.; guitarist Matt Hopper’s trio at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, followed by Hazelton’s quartet at 9 p.m.; pianist Tim Whitmer at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by Guitar Elation downstairs at 8:30 p.m. and Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 upstairs at 10 p.m.; and OJT again from 6 p.m. Saturday to 1 a.m., with organist Everette DeVan and drummer Danny Rojas downstairs at 9 p.m.
▪ Pianist Joe Cartwright is featured on the next Spirituality and All That Jazz concert, at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 W. 47th St. Tickets are $7.
▪ The People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City also appears at 8 p.m. Sunday at the RecordBar, 1520 Grand Blvd.
▪ The Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., has tenor saxophonist Doug Talley’s quartet plus singer Kathleen Holeman at 8:30 p.m. Friday and singer Ida McBeth at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
▪ The Ship, 1217 Union Ave., has organist Dave Creighton’s Creighton Organization at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday and Greg Meise’s organ trio at 9:30 p.m. Thursday.