Singer Ann Hampton Callaway is one of those people who seem destined to be onstage and to own that stage. The big voice and big skills demand a big showcase.
And that’s what she’s getting when she comes to Kansas City on Tuesday to appear with the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra in their holiday concert, “A Swinging Kansas City Christmas.” The big band, directed by Clint Ashlock, presents jazzified versions of holiday favorites with its characteristic flair, and the singer will add some new dimensions.
Callaway has credentials as a cabaret performer, a Broadway performer and a composer. Most widely heard is the theme to the TV sitcom “The Nanny,” which she wrote and performed. But she’s also one tough jazz singer. So she’s ready for the challenge of soaring over a big band. And she’s ready for the challenge of making the holiday songs sound new.
“Lead bass” is not a contradiction in terms anymore. Virtuosic players on the electric bass demand to be heard, and the pop-soul-smooth jazz idiom welcomes them — and one young Kansas Citian is especially welcome.
Julian Vaughn, who leads his band on Saturday on the Jammin’ at the Gem concert series, is becoming one of the most popular lead-bass players in the country. Some of his recordings have made the charts. And he’s still a young cat just getting started.
The term “lead bass” sneaked into the jazz consciousness in the 1980s — Miles Davis described one of his bassists that way. And the very athletic bass style got a popular boost when an NBA player, Wayman Tisdale, retired from hoops to concentrate (successfully) on his bass.
Vaughn hears comparisons to Tisdale a lot, maybe not least because he’s 6-foot-7. And there’s some star quality to his playing.
Vaughn’s show, which also has a holiday theme, is at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Gem Theater, 1615 E. 18th St. Tickets are $45. Call 816-474-6262 or visit ticketmaster.com.
The Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors are throwing a party to mark Frank Sinatra’s centennial, and also to raise money for their programs to assist musicians in need, to support jazz students and to publicize the scene through Jam magazine.
This Sinatra bash features singer Dave Stephens’ band with a guest appearance by singer Frank Vigliaturo. There’s also an Italian cuisine buffet and a silent auction, and you’re encouraged to dress in Rat Pack style.
The event is on Saturday at the Uptown Theater, 3700 Broadway. There’s a dinner at 7 p.m., and showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $60 for Ambassadors members, $75 for the general public and $100 for VIPs. Check ticketmaster.com.
▪ It’s time for another live performance/recording session for the “12th Street Jump” radio program. This one features trombonist Jason Goudeau, one of the best relatively unsung players in town, and honors the music of Kansas City giant Bob Brookmeyer. It’s at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd.
▪ The Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., has trumpeter Ryan Thielman in charge of the Monday jam, at 7 p.m. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Lester “Duck” Warner is on at 7 p.m. Thursday, and the band Interstring is on at 8:30 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, it’s a friendly big-band rivalry between ensembles from the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri, at 8:30 p.m.
▪ The Green Lady also has the Foundation 627 Big Band at 8:30 p.m. Sunday; bassist Karl McComas-Reichl’s trio at 9 p.m. Monday; the group Dojo at 8 p.m. Tuesday; organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 9 p.m. Wednesday; pianist Andrew Ouellette’s trio at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, followed by organist Chris Hazelton’s trio at 9 p.m.; pianist Tim Whitmer at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by bassist Dominique Sanders at 8:30 p.m. and Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 10; and singer Molly Hammer’s quartet at 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by OJT at 9:30 p.m.
▪ The People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City, directed by Brad Cox, plays at 8 p.m. Sunday at the RecordBar, 1020 Westport Road. It marks the end of the band’s highly productive 7 1/2 -year run at the venue, which is closing soon. It’s also a fundraiser for the newly created New and Improvised Music Foundation of Kansas City, dedicated to helping musicians secure funding for creative projects.
Joe Klopus: 816-234-4751