Music News & Reviews

May 28, 2014

From the mainstream to the outrageous, May 29-June 4 shapes up to be a good week for jazz

The Kansas City jazz calendar ranges from sweetly old-school swing to the funky stuff to the outrageous. The mainstream goes right through the middle of it all, but the edges are represented too.

There’s no one right way to play jazz or to hear it. You don’t have to like the stuff somebody else likes, and they don’t have to like your favorites. There’s room for everybody.

Especially this week, when the Kansas City jazz calendar ranges from sweetly old-school swing to the funky stuff to the outrageous. The mainstream goes right through the middle of it all, but the edges are represented too.

We’ll take it night by night:

Tonight: There’s Brazilian music of several stripes at the Broadway Jazz Club, 3601 Broadway, when the group Arara Azul plays at 7 p.m. There’s Latin music from Grupo Aztlan at the Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., at 7 p.m. And there’s brilliant organ jazz from Chris Hazelton’s trio, featuring veteran guitarist Danny Embrey, at 9 p.m. at the Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd. The mainstream stuff is at the Majestic Steakhouse, 931 Broadway, where pianist Mark Lowrey’s trio plays at 6 p.m.

Friday: The Blue Room has organist Everette DeVan’s Wild Men of Kansas City band at 8:30 p.m. The Green Lady has pianist Tim Whitmer at 5:30 p.m., followed by Hazelton again, this time with his Boogaloo 7 band, at 10 p.m. (Since the Green Lady decided to emphasize organ groups a few months back, we’re very well supplied with organ jazz in Kansas City.)

The Broadway has organist Dave Creighton’s bluesy band at 5:30 p.m., followed by something very different from the vocal group Book of Gaia at 9 p.m., with singers Angela Hagenbach, Pamela Baskin-Watson and Nedra Dixon. The Majestic has pianist Michael Pagan’s trio at 7 p.m.

Out south at Take Five Coffee + Bar, 5336 W. 151st St. in Leawood, is new music from vibraphonist Peter Schlamb’s group, with trumpeter Hermon Mehari, bassist Karl McComas-Reichl and drummer John Kizilarmut, at 8 p.m. It’s a regular “final Friday” thing for Take Five, and the telepathic interplay of this group could win you over even if you resist newer sounds.

Saturday: The Blue Room has a demonstration of mainstream jazz’s power from visiting guitarist Frank Potenza, a player deeply influenced by the late Joe Pass, the guitarist with perhaps the mightiest chops of all. That’s at 8:30 p.m. Meanwhile at Take Five, drummer Sam Wisman’s group is joined by singer David Rizer, a familiar figure at jams around town, at 8 p.m.

The Green Lady has new grooves from pianist Eddie Moore and his Outer Circle band at 6 p.m. Drummer Arnold Young, a veteran of many musical situations from the mainstream to way out there, brings a trio to the Green Lady at 9 p.m. Pianist Joe Cartwright leads a trio at the Broadway at 6 p.m., followed by singer Megan Birdsall at 9:30 p.m.

Sunday: Start early with the Majestic’s jazz brunch, with keyboardist and singer Rich Hill, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. DeVan’s quartet appears at the Green Lady at 3 p.m., followed by the Foundation 627 Big Band at 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, there’s a real alternative on the alternative-jazz series at the RecordBar, 1020 Westport Road. We don’t hear many true free-jazz performances in the Kansas City area, but we get a promising one when tenor and soprano saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and drummer Tom Rainey, a husband-and-wife team, drop by for some full-on improvising at 8 p.m. Laubrock is a virtuoso of saxophone possibilities that aren’t often used in mainstream jazz, finding colors and possibilities in overlooked realms. Rainey has a long list of credits from “inside” jazz and “outside” music too. Together they conjure gripping music right out of the air. Admission is $5.

Monday: Maybe a slow night, but not if you drop by the Blue Room, where trombonist Jason Goudeau, one of the best under-recognized horn players in town, leads the jam at 7 p.m.

Tuesday: This used to be the slowest night of the jazz week in Kansas City, but lately Tuesdays have evolved into something else entirely. The Green Lady has DeVan’s group at 5:30 p.m. A virtuoso of older jazz styles, keyboardist Bram Wijnands leads his B-3 Bombers at 9 p.m. The Majestic has trumpeter Mehari’s trio at 6 p.m. At Harlings Upstairs, 3941-A Main St., the New Jazz Order big band, directed by Clint Ashlock, plays at 9 p.m.

Wednesday: Not the busiest night on the calendar, but don’t consider it dull. The Green Lady has organist Ken Lovern’s seasoned trio at 9 p.m. The Majestic has Mehari’s trio again at 6 p.m.

All in all, that’s a jazz week that has the potential to lift you far above the routine.

To reach Joe Klopus, call 816-234-4751 or send email to

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