When Wynton Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra come to Lawrence next week, it’s a jazz success story. And it’s an unusual kind of success for the music — a case of the outsider art form being nourished by generous amounts of institutional and corporate support.
Marsalis and his big band, circling the globe playing music with a heavy emphasis on swing and blues, are the most visible part of the success story. But there’s much more to it.
More than 20 years ago, the people at New York’s Lincoln Center wisely decided they needed to pay more attention to jazz. They signed up Marsalis, then the widely recognized young firebrand who was drawing attention to acoustic jazz, to help direct things.
It’s grown and grown. Today, the Jazz at Lincoln Center name adorns a concert hall on a prime piece of Manhattan real estate. There’s also a midsized performance venue and a club. There’s a lengthy schedule of jazz education events and a jazz hall of fame. They’re producing national radio and television programs. They’re presenting a jazz-in-the-schools series.
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It’s all been done with big corporate and private support — the kind jazz could use a little more of here and everywhere.
Jazz at Lincoln Center is almost a brand name at this point. And you can be sure that the brand will provide some dependably good music — in the case of the Lawrence performance, lots of Marsalis’ own music in conjunction with some older repertoire pieces, all cleanly played by this very well-rehearsed band.
Jazz is rarely this polished. It doesn’t need to be anywhere near this polished much of the time. But in its precision, the Jazz at Lincoln Center presentation, combined with the virtuosity of Marsalis himself, should appeal to fans and nonfans alike.
Of course, you really need a musical diet that balances the brand-name jazz with the homemade kind. And we have plenty of the latter this week. To wit:
▪ The jazz-and-neo-soul band Shades of Jade has a new CD, “Fingerprinted Memories,” and they’re celebrating with a release party from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd.
▪ The Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., has the Sons of Brasil at 7 p.m. Thursday and pianist Joe Cartwright’s quartet 8:30 p.m. at Friday. Celebrate the memory of organists Charles Kynard and Reginald Buckner with organists Everette DeVan and Tim Henry at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Drummer Tyree Johnson and Groove 101 are in charge of the Monday jam, at 7 p.m.
▪ Highlights at the Green Lady Lounge also include the group BVibe at 9 p.m. Thursday; singer Molly Hammer at 6 p.m. Friday, followed by organist Ken Lovern’s OJT plus tenor saxophonist Rich Wheeler at 10 p.m.; pianist Eddie Moore’s Outer Circle band at 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by OJT at 10 p.m.; the Foundation 627 Big Band at 8:30 p.m. Sunday; the band Intuition with tenor saxophonists Matt Otto and Steve Lambert, bassist Karl McComas-Reichl and drummer Sam Wisman at 8 p.m. Monday; the Sequel Trio at 9 p.m. Tuesday; and OJT again at 9 p.m. Wednesday.
▪ Highlights at the Broadway Jazz Club, 3601 Broadway, include singer Dave Stephens at 7 p.m. Friday, singer Millie Edwards at 7 p.m. Saturday and singer Eboni Fondren at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
▪ Take Five Coffee + Bar, 5336 W. 151st St. in Leawood, has tenor saxophonist James Isaac’s group with guitarist Michael Stover, bassist Jeff Harshbarger and drummer Scotty McBee at 8 p.m. Friday; tenor saxophonist Matt Carrillo’s group at 8 p.m. Saturday; and the Sons of Brasil at 5 p.m. Sunday. The current Take Five location closes at the end of the month, and the new place in Corbin Park at 135th Street and Metcalf Avenue should be ready a few weeks after.
▪ Last week we told you about the Project H, which has some good gigs coming up this weekend. The group will be at The Ship, 1217 Union Ave. in the West Bottoms, at 10 p.m. Thursday; at the Kansas City Museum, 3218 Gladstone Blvd., at 7 p.m. Friday; and on the Ink stage at the Plaza Art Fair, at Ward Parkway and Pennsylvania Avenue, at 2 p.m. Sunday.
▪ Other jazz at the Plaza Art Fair includes Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle on the Ink stage at 1 p.m. Saturday and the band Diverse on the Ink stage at 5 p.m. Saturday.