Don’t let anybody tell you that jazz and dance are estranged. Yes, their relationship isn’t what it was in, say, 1939, but who wants to go back to the way things were then?
Here in 2017, the very danceable salsa jazz of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra is coming to the Folly Theater on Saturday, Dec. 9, to prove that the relationship is strong right now.
The SHO celebrates “salsa dura” — the thrilling hard-core salsa that’s grown from a jazz-meets-Cuban-rhythm hybrid, formed in the heat of New York nights, and merrily picked up elements of soul, rock and funk as it’s grown. It’s powerful enough, and danceable enough, to make all those elements work together.
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The band was put together about 15 years ago by pianist Oscar Hernandez, who knows his way around this music, having worked with Ruben Blades, Willie Colon, Celia Cruz and Ray Barretto. He knows how high their standards were, and he knows all the best people to call for this music. The result is a flexible, virtuosic band with two Grammys under its collective belt.
The SHO is touring with a holiday theme, “Salsa Navidad,” promising Christmas music from the Latin-American worlds, joyously swung out to the max. It’s a Christmas show like no other. It’s at the Folly, 300 W. 12th St., at 8 p.m. on Dec. 9; tickets are $20 to $55 at 816-474-4444 or follytheater.org.
Of course there are more jazz events with a seasonal theme. Here are some of the highlights:
▪ Pianist Tim Whitmer and friends get into a holiday groove with the Jazz Carolfest 2017, 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, at the Community Christian Church, 4601 Main St. The friends include singers Millie Edwards, Diane “Mama” Ray, Eboni Fondren, Havilah Bruders, Ron Gutierrez, Slim Hanson and Ron Lackey; fellow pianist Bram Wijnands; and the house band with drummer Jurgen Welge, bassist James Albright, guitarist Rod Fleeman, sax man Todd Wilkinson and trumpeter Stan Kessler. Tickets are $25 at the door.
▪ The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra presents “A Kansas City Christmas” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13, in Helzberg Hall of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The top-flight big band is directed by trumpeter Clint Ashlock, who also presents a “jazz chat” session in Helzberg at 6 p.m. Tickets are $31.50 to $66.50 at 816-994-7222 or tickets.kauffmancenter.org.
▪ One more with pianist Tim Whitmer: Violinist Marvin Gruenbaum, who’s at home playing jazz, country or classical, is the guest on the next edition of the Spirituality and All That Jazz concert series, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, at the Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 W. 47th St.
▪ The Westport CoffeeHouse Theatre, 4010 Pennsylvania Ave., has bassist Gerald Spaits’ Sax and Violins, the jazz quartet plus string quartet, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12.
▪ Some regular weekly things we haven’t mentioned in a while: Drummer Jim Lower’s big band and singer David Basse are at Californos, 4124 Pennsylvania Ave., at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, and pianist Eddie Moore and friends are there at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, with an open jam starting at 8:30 p.m.
Joe Klopus, 816-234-4751