Music News & Reviews

April 16, 2014

A win-win Saturday for jazz fans

Pianist Brad Mehldau and composer Nathan Davis put on competing shows Saturday. Each is guaranteed to draw some audience away from the other. The bad part is that the jazz fan faces a difficult decision. The good part is that neither choice is wrong.

This is too much, literally — two major jazz concerts on the same night, at the same time.

They’re both important shows. Each is guaranteed to draw some audience away from the other.

The bad part is that the jazz fan faces a difficult decision. The good part is that neither choice is wrong.

Mehldau’s moods

Pianist Brad Mehldau, who’s coming to the Folly Theater on Saturday, is simply


major jazz musician of his generation, according to his sometime musical partner Pat Metheny.

Mehldau has a strongly personal style that seems to owe as much to Johannes Brahms as to Bill Evans or Keith Jarrett. And he has put it to work with a range of collaborators, from Joshua Redman and Wayne Shorter to Chris Thile of the Punch Brothers Americana band and opera singers Anne Sofie von Otter and Renee Fleming.

Still, it’s in his long-running, simpatico trio that he has made some of his most important statements. That’s the group he’s bringing to the Folly on Saturday, with (at last report) bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard.

They’re going for a long-term commitment; Mehldau and Grenadier have been in the trio since the early ’90s, with Ballard coming in about a decade ago. They’re using the familiarity that comes from playing together a long time as a bridge to explore the unfamiliar.

It’s one of the top trios in jazz. And they didn’t get there by coasting.

Mehldau’s trio performs at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Folly, 300 W. 12th St. Tickets are $50 to $15; call

816-474-4444 or go to


Lifetime achievement

The American Jazz Museum’s Lifetime Achievement Award concert, dedicated this year to tenor saxophonist and composer Nathan Davis, also takes place Saturday night, at the Gem Theater. We gave considerable space to Davis, a Kansas City, Kan., native, and his achievements as musician and educator in last Sunday’s paper. (Go to to read that story online.)

Davis, who’s probably better known abroad than in this country, has put together an all-star band for the occasion, with trombone giant Curtis Fuller, young trumpet star Maurice Brown, pianist George Cables, bassist Abraham Laboriel and drummer Winard Harper.

The concert caps off a busy week around the American Jazz Museum. The area will have an influx of students today through Saturday for the 18th and Vine Jazz Festival (not to be confused with the much bigger 18th and Vine Jazz and Blues Festival planned for the fall).

The festival is presented in conjunction with Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley. Middle schoolers, high schoolers and college musicians will perform for educators and their peers. Also, Davis and Fuller will lead an afternoon clinic on Saturday.

The capper is the concert, a rare chance to hear Davis, and he has promised to play a stack of new music written for the occasion. The show is at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Gem, 1615 E. 18th St.; call

816-474-6262 or go to

for tickets.


• The powerful pairing of tenor saxophonist Rob Scheps and veteran drummer Eliot Zigmund makes a quartet with pianist Roger Wilder and bassist Bob Bowman for two shows this weekend. They’re at Take Five Coffee + Bar, 5336 W. 151st St. in Leawood, at 8 p.m. Friday and at the Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

• The Blue Room also has a birthday bash for Bowman with his BowDog band at 7 tonight. Bassist James Ward’s band appears at 8:30 p.m. Friday, and the band Shades of Jade leads the Monday jam, at 7 p.m.

• Take Five Coffee + Bar also has Eboni and the Ivories, fronted by singer Eboni Fondren, at 8 p.m. Saturday.

• Highlights at the Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., include pianist Tim Whitmer’s trio at 5:30 p.m. Friday followed by organist Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 10 p.m.; organist Everette DeVan’s group at 9 p.m. Saturday; guitarist Jerry Hahn’s trio at 6 p.m. Sunday, followed by the Foundation 627 Big Band at 10 p.m.; and the jam led by Bob Bowman and Roger Wilder at 9 p.m. Monday.

• The Broadway Jazz Club, 3601 Broadway, has the Sons of Brasil at 7 tonight; organist Dave Creighton’s group at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by singer Molly Hammer at 9 p.m.; singer Ida McBeth at 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by pianist Mark Lowrey’s trio plus singer Shay Estes at 9:30 p.m.; singer/songwriter Barclay Martin’s jazz-flavored band at 7 p.m. Tuesday; and pianist Roger Wilder’s trio at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

• Addison Frei, a pianist and composer from Lawrence who’s now a student at the University of North Texas, gives the next show on the alternative jazz series at the RecordBar, 1020 Westport Road, at 8 p.m. Sunday.

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