This year’s edition of Jazz in the Woods, the huge and free summer music event, might also be called a jazz homecoming.
Among the headliners are two former Kansas Citians, guitarist Norman Brown, who plays Friday, and pianist Eldar Djangirov, who appears Saturday in a special jam with alto saxophonist Bobby Watson, a meeting of two masters from different styles who are bound to make the sparks fly.
It’s said to be the 25th year for the event, held at Antioch Road and College Boulevard in the open spaces of the Corporate Woods office park and put together by the Overland Park South Rotary Club. Admission is free, but you’re encouraged to spend money while you’re there, because a portion of it goes to charity. (The event raised more than $50,000 last year.)
The full musical lineup looks like this. On Friday:
Saxophonist Vincent Ingala, 6:15 p.m. He’s one of those ridiculously talented people, and he made a hit album playing every instrument himself and producing. Don’t envy, just enjoy.
The Elders, 7:35 p.m. Local Celt rockers, veterans of other bands, who found tremendous success in this venture at the time in life when other rockers go looking for other jobs.
Norman Brown, 9 p.m. As a kid he went from venue to venue in Kansas City, impressing people with his virtuosity and taste. Then in 1992 he signed with a subsidiary of Motown Records. He has been in fast musical company since.
Singers Angela Hagenbach and Lauren Braton, 6:20 p.m. Two of the reasons the musical scene in Kansas City is so strong. But they’re also a contrast in styles: Hagenbach in the jazz idiom, Braton active in musical theater. This could be an exceptional one-two musical punch.
Bobby Watson and Eldar Djangirov, 7:45 p.m. And this is the knockout punch. Djangirov was already a virtuoso when he came to Kansas City when he was 10 to learn the language of jazz, and now he’s on the world stage where he belongs. Watson’s excellence is also known on the world stage, and we’re lucky to have him back in our midst. Watson is head of the jazz program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City conservatory.
Mindi Abair, 9:10 p.m. A smooth-jazz saxophonist with a strong top-40 background. She has been heard with Lee Ritenour, Jonathan Butler and Rick Braun, but also with the Backstreet Boys and Aerosmith.
That’s a lineup that should draw a lot of music fans from across the spectrum. Enjoy, and spend some money for those charities to keep this festival going and keep it free.
The festival site is off College Boulevard, west of Antioch Road but east of U.S. 69. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair, but leave the food, drinks and pets at home.
And did we mention that it’s free?
99 and counting
The Mutual Musicians Foundation is planning a centennial celebration for next year, but the warmup, starting right now, is spectacular in its own way.
It starts Thursday morning with a jazz tour, spotlighting the Underground Railroad, the civil rights movement and, of course, the rich history of 12th, 18th and Vine streets. It begins at 10 a.m. at the foundation, 1823 Highland Ave., and ends there a couple of hours later with a talk about the area’s future. (Space is limited; RSVP at mutualmusiciansfoundation.org.)
Later Thursday is the long-anticipated event “The Books of Bird,” putting both authors who last year published Charlie Parker biographies on the same stage. The dialogue involving Stanley Crouch (“Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker”), Chuck Haddix (“Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker”) and the spirit of a great American musical innovator takes place at 5:30 p.m. at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center, 3700 Blue Parkway.
The foundation’s building was once the union hall for Musicians Local 627, the black union in the days of segregation. On Friday, the foundation building is the scene of a panel discussion on “What Happened to the Black Musicians Local Unions?” from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The panelists include Dick Albrecht from the current Local 34-627 and renowned bassist and educator Larry Ridley. In addition, they’ll also showcase the youth from a jazz and blues apprenticeship program.
The foundation has one other thing going on: a bloggers tour. Six national and local writers have been invited to write about the Mutual Musicians Foundation, to raise awareness of the centennial, and about their Kansas City experiences.
The Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., has two other jazz homecomings. Drummer Matt Kane is back in town for a minute to check in with some of those who helped him get started; he’s put together his KC Generations Band, which plays at 7 p.m. Thursday. Lyrical trumpeter Dave Scott is also back for a moment, leading a sextet with trombonist Scott Whitfield at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Bassist Bob Bowman’s Bowdog band appears at 8:30 p.m. Friday. Multi-instrumentalist Dwight Foster runs the Monday jam at 7 p.m.
Take Five Coffee + Bar, 5336 W. 151st St. in Leawood, has the Sons of Brasil at 8 p.m. Friday and a CD release party for tenor saxophonist Doug Talley’s new disc, featuring the music of Wayne Shorter, at 8 p.m. Saturday. Talley’s gig features his long-running quartet plus trumpeter Joe Parisi.
The Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., has organist Everette DeVan at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, followed by organist Chris Hazelton at 9 p.m.; pianist Tim Whitmer at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 10 p.m.; pianist Eddie Moore and his Outer Circle band at 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by Hazelton at 10 p.m.; DeVan at 3 p.m. Sunday, followed by the Foundation 627 Big Band at 8 p.m.; bassist Karl McComas-Reichl’s trio at 8 p.m. Monday; DeVan at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, followed by a tribute to Medeski, Martin and Wood at 9 p.m.; and organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 9 p.m. Wednesday.
The Broadway Jazz Club, 3601 Broadway, has the Sons of Brasil at 7 p.m. Thursday; organist Dave Creighton’s Organization at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by singer Eboni Fondren at 9 p.m.; singer Ida McBeth at 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by singer Shay Estes at 9:30 p.m.; the trio of bassist Gerald Spaits, guitarist Rod Fleeman and reed man Charles Perkins at 7 p.m. Tuesday; and stride pianist Bram Wijnands and his Swingtet at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The Ship, at 1217 Union Ave. in the West Bottoms, is no longer a by-invitation-only joint. Tenor saxophonist Rich Wheeler’s quartet appears there at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Trumpeter Stan Kessler’s Crossroads Quartet plays the next show on the alternative-jazz series at the RecordBar, 1020 Westport Road, at 8 p.m. Sunday.