We’re swinging into the second week of the Charlie Parker Celebration, but this week’s events are about more than Parker. They’re about the excellence of Kansas City music in general, past and present.
Separate from the Parker celebration, this week also brings the inauguration of the Kansas City Jazz Walk of Fame. The dedication is Saturday, followed by a big concert celebration at the Gem Theater, and, of course, Parker is one of the six honorees. It wouldn’t be right any other way.
First, let’s talk about the Walk of Fame project, a Jazz District Renaissance Corp. effort to make the district an even better attraction.
The walk will start right in front of the American Jazz Museum, with six 30-inch bronze medallions honoring six individuals who have made Kansas City music influential around the world: bandleaders Count Basie and Jay McShann, pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams, Parker, guitarist Pat Metheny and alto saxophonist Bobby Watson.
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The medallions will be unveiled at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by the Gem concert. And get a load of this concert lineup: There’s the Count Basie Orchestra, directed by trumpeter Scotty Barnhart, with a guest (just added to the roster), jazz, pop and soul singer Regina Belle; and there’s Watson with his big band.
The idea behind the walk is to build a new tradition, adding a few medallions to the walk each year and keeping the celebration going. This is a really fine way to start.
Meanwhile, the Charlie Parker Celebration continues, building awareness of the hometown musical giant’s achievements and marking what would have been his 94th birthday.
The group KC Jazz ALIVE has put together a list of performances and other events all over town to honor the Bird, the Kansas City-bred architect of modern jazz:
Thursday: Brad Allen Quartet, 6:30 p.m., Zona Rosa Town Center Stage.
Friday: Bobby Watson with singer George V. Johnson, a practitioner of the art of vocalese, or placing lyrics to instrumental solos; 8:30 p.m., Blue Room.
Saturday: Singer Molly Hammer, 7 p.m., 12 Baltimore in the Hotel Phillips.
Sunday: Foundation 627 Big Band, 8 p.m., Green Lady Lounge.
Monday: New Jazz Order big band, led by Clint Ashlock, 7 p.m., Blue Room.
Tuesday: Reed man Charles Perkins and bassist Gerald Spaits in the atrium of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Johnson County Community College, at noon.
Tuesday: Trumpeter Hermon Mehari, Majestic Restaurant, 6 p.m.
Wednesday: A live recording session for a “12th Street Jump” radio show episode honoring Parker and featuring alto saxophonist Dan Thomas and pianist Joe Cartwright; Broadway Jazz Club, 7:30 p.m.
One other main event is for students of all ages: The “Bird Lives” Music Boot Camp takes place at the American Jazz Museum from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. It’s free.
The Parker celebration has a few more highlights next week, including the return of the 21-sax salute at his gravesite, not once but twice, and a creative jazz-history puppet show. We’ll tell you more next time. Meanwhile, more on the Parker celebration is at KCJazzAlive.org.
Drummer Arnold Young’s unusually configured Flavor Mixing System band, which he says is “so wrong it’s right,” plays the next show on the Jazz Underground series, at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Westport CoffeeHouse Theatre, 4010 Pennsylvania Ave.
The Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., also has singer and multi-instrumentalist Lester “Duck” Warner and his Warner Project at 7 p.m. Thursday and pianist Charles Williams plus singer Paula Saunders at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
Other highlights at the Broadway Jazz Club, 3601 Broadway, include singer Pamela Baskin-Watson at 7 p.m. Friday and singer Angela Hagenbach at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Other highlights at the Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., include tenor saxophonist Brett Jackson’s quartet at 9 p.m. Friday; organist Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 10 p.m. Friday; organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 10 p.m. Saturday and again at 9 p.m. Wednesday; the band Intuition, with tenor saxophonists Steve Lambert and Matt Otto, drummer Sam Wisman and bassist Karl McComas-Reichl at 8 p.m. Monday; and the band Sequel, with Lovern, bassist Jeff Harshbarger and drummer Brian Steever playing music of Medeski, Martin and Wood at 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Take Five Coffee + Bar, 5536 W. 151st St. in Leawood, has pianist Andrew Ouellette’s trio at 8 p.m. Friday and trumpeter Stan Kessler’s Parallax band, with the drumming tandem of Ryan Lee and Brian Steever, at 8 p.m. Saturday.