The dates are set, the contracts are signed, and now it’s in your hands. The jazz concert lineups for fall and beyond are taking shape, and this is the best time to get tickets. So let’s take a look at the musical choices that are available.
First up, a reminder of the offerings coming up almost immediately at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Tenor saxophonist Branford Marsalis and singer Kurt Elling were set to bring their collaboration to the stage there in May, but the event had to be postponed. They’ll perform instead at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 31. Tickets are $35.50-$75.50 and are available at kauffmancenter.org or 816-994-7222.
And there’s plenty of buzz around pianist Herbie Hancock coming back to town for the first time in too long. He brings a group with guitarist Lionel Loueke, keyboardist and saxophonist Terrace Martin, bassist James Genus and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 12, a Saturday. Tickets are $54.50-$159.50 at kauffmancenter.org or 816-994-7222.
Onward into the calendar we find the Folly Theater’s Jazz Series:
▪ Oct. 28: Guitarist Lee Ritenour’s smooth and breezy style is widely admired.
▪ Dec. 9: The Spanish Harlem Orchestra, a large ensemble of specialists in all styles of Latin dance music, plays jazz-inflected salsa.
▪ Jan. 19, 2018: Pianist Marcus Roberts, one of those new traditionalists who emerged in the ’80s, brings his trio to town — but just because he’s steeped in tradition doesn’t mean he plays things the way they’ve been played before.
▪ Feb. 17: Cyrille Aimee, a singer with roots in France and the Dominican Republic, plays music that freely hops from New York to Europe to Brazil.
▪ March 9: Hot Sardines, a retro-gypsy-swing outfit that has already been in Kansas City twice in the last two years, goes for No. 3.
▪ April 27: SFJazz Collective, an all-star band led by alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon, comes back to town with a program focused on music of Miles Davis and originals by the band members.
Individual tickets to the Folly series go on sale Aug. 18 at follytheater.org or 816-474-4444.
Meanwhile, the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra has pieced together a series that gently expands the notion of what we can expect a virtuosic big band to do. The shows:
▪ Oct. 6: “Jumpin’ Down Route 66,” a new look at R&B classics from Louis Jordan, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole and others.
▪ Dec. 13: A Kansas City Christmas, the traditional holiday show.
▪ March 9, 2018: “Lady Be Good,” celebrating women in jazz.
▪ May 4: “Off the Wall: Pop Hits of the ’80s,” with fresh treatments of material from Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and others.
The KCJO concerts are in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center. Tickets are available at 816-994-7222.
And one other thing you should know about is the Winterlude series at Johnson County Community College, highlighted by the all-star superband Hudson, consisting of guitarist John Scofield, drummer Jack DeJohnette, keyboardist John Medeski and bassist Larry Grenadier. They have a new album, in which they stretch out on some unlikely pop tunes and take those familiar tunes to adventurous places. They’ll be at Yardley Hall on Oct. 15.
The Winterlude series also offers an ideal showcase for some Kansas City artists to do their thing in the Polsky Theater instead of some noisy club. Hear trumpeter Hermon Mehari on Dec. 17, singer Deborah Brown on Jan. 28, 2018, pianist Charles Williams on Feb. 18 and tenor saxophonist Matt Otto on March 18.
Tickets for the Winterlude shows can be had at jccc.edu/performing-arts-series/events/index.html or at 913-469-4445.
▪ Music has been happening at the corner of Eighth and Central downtown for most of the last 30 years, and the Phoenix has certainly earned the right to celebrate. So it’s time for the eighth annual PhoenixFest, in and around the club at 302 W. Eighth St. on Saturday, July 29. There’s an outdoor stage (bring a lawnchair) with the Taylor Smith Band at noon, Jason Vivone at 2 p.m., Brody Buster at 4 p.m., the MGDs at 6:30 p.m. and J. Love at 9 p.m.; inside there’s the Stone Cutters Union at 12:30 p.m., the Wild Women at 3 p.m., Tim Whitmer and the KC Express at 5:30 p.m., Tevin Williams at 8:30 p.m. and A La Mode at 11 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 the day of the festival; kids 12 and under get in free. Check thephoenixkc.com.
▪ Pianist Tim Whitmer’s July Jazz Jam is back, for the seventh time. The Wild Women (singers Geneva Price, Lori Tucker and Millie Edwards), saxophonist Jim Mair and violinist Marvin Gruenbaum join Whitmer and the band. It’s at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 30, at the Community Christian Church, 4601 Main St. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Call 816-561-6531 or check community-christian.org.
Joe Klopus, 816-234-4751