Fusion seemed like a fad at first. The mixture of jazz, pop and soul emerged in the 1960s, picked up strength in the ’70s and changed with the times in the ’80s.
You can’t call it a fad now — even if they call it “smooth jazz” or something else, fusion is still with us.
Keyboardist Jeff Lorber, who brings his band to the Gem Theater today, is one of the popular players who have kept fusion from fading over the decades. His music was on the charts in the ’70s and ’80s, and he’s still a respected force in the field.
Even if you don’t care for the style (why, yes, he is often heard on the Weather Channel), you have to admit that Lorber doesn’t play as if he’s simply going through the motions. He believes in fusion.
He didn’t make it onto the charts by accident. Lorber has a great knack for finding grooves and melodies that feel good and linger in your mind after the song is over. It’s a rare gift that has held up over time.
On the Gem show he’s appearing with a band of like-minded fusion believers including bassist Jimmy Haslip, best known from his time with the Yellowjackets. Kansas City native singer and composer Carol Duboc is slated to make a special appearance. And saxophonist Everette Harp also is on the bill. That’s a genuine fusion all-star package.
The Lorber-headlined show is at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Gem Theater, 1615 E. 18th St. Tickets are $40; see ticketmaster.com.
Kansas City soon will have several chances to get acquainted with Tivon Pennicott, a young tenor saxophonist and singer from New York. He has already been hired by demanding leaders Kenny Burrell and Esperanza Spalding. He’s going around Kansas City with bassist Dominique Sanders’ group. They’ll be at the Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., at 7 p.m. Thursday; and at Take Five Coffee + Bar, 5336 S. 151st St. in Leawood, at 8 p.m. Friday.
Another player we should get to know is trumpeter and composer Marcus Hampton, who’s relatively new to Kansas City after quite a few years as a musical mover and shaker in the Tampa Bay area. He’s originally from Indianapolis, where the Hampton musical family is important, and trombone master Slide Hampton is his uncle. Marcus Hampton leads a sextet at 7 p.m. Monday at the Blue Room.
The Blue Room also has pianist Eddie Moore and his Outer Circle band at 8:30 p.m. Friday and the Jazz Disciples at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
Take Five Coffee + Bar also has pianist Mark Lowrey’s trio at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Highlights at the Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., include tenor saxophonist Brett Jackson’s quartet at 9 p.m. Thursday; organist Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 10 p.m. Friday; Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle at 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by organist Ken Lovern’s trio at 10 p.m.; organist Everette DeVan’s quartet at 3 p.m. Sunday, followed by the Foundation 627 Big Band at 8 p.m.; DeVan again at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday; and Lovern’s group again at 9 p.m. Wednesday.
The Broadway Jazz Club also has Brazilian music from Arara Azul at 7 p.m. Thursday; singer Kelley Gant at 9 p.m. Friday; singer Angela Hagenbach at 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by singer Stephanie Moore with Dominique Sanders’ group at 9:30 p.m.; and guitarist Rod Fleeman’s trio at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
An ensemble from the Elder Statesmen of Kansas City Jazz organization is performing in an event to raise awareness and donations for the musicians food pantry that the group runs with Covenant Presbyterian Church. The performance is from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Blue Room; bring canned goods or nonperishable items, or give a financial donation.