Jazz Town: Pat Metheny finds his way to KC, with Bruce Hornsby coming along

07/23/2014 7:00 AM

08/06/2014 4:57 PM

This looks like fun.

Guitarist Pat Metheny is coming home to Kansas City to show off his newish band, the Pat Metheny Unity Group, and keyboardist, singer and songwriter Bruce Hornsby is also on the bill.

The homecoming, at Crossroads KC on Saturday, corrects one oversight. Eyebrows were raised when a tour by the Unity Group earlier this year took them to Topeka but skipped KC. It’s better to have them here.

The pairing with Hornsby isn’t as odd as it may appear at first — Hornsby has plenty of experience in jazz and improvisational music, and Metheny and Hornsby have even worked together a few times. Early reports from the tour (it began last week) say that they are indeed playing a few tunes together in their shows.

About the Unity Group: A few years back Metheny wanted to put together a hard-charging improvising unit, something more interactive than the solo projects he had been pursuing. He signed on tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Ben Williams and drummer Antonio Sanchez. That unit seemed to take on a life of its own, so it acquired a name: It became the Pat Metheny Unity Band.

But remember the old Pat Metheny Group, the guitarist’s long-running collaboration with keyboardist Lyle Mays? It was Metheny’s most famous vehicle in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s and for a while in the Aughts. But the PMG was on-again, off-again, with many breaks for solo projects. Its last break began about a decade ago and hasn’t ended.

Metheny was looking to make music on a slightly bigger canvas, something like the old PMG. But his desire to keep the Unity Band together was also strong. So with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi, the tested-and-true Unity Band morphed into the present Pat Metheny Unity Group.

Good vibes will surround their (slightly belated) first appearance in Kansas City. And Hornsby brings some good vibes, too.

Noteworthy

The Phoenix, 302 W. Eighth St., celebrates local blues and jazz six or seven nights a week, but its fifth annual PhoenixFest, with music indoors and outdoors, kicks things up a few notches on Saturday. The outside stage has FEO at 1 p.m., the Brody Buster Band at 4 p.m., Brother Bagman at 6:30 p.m. and the MGDs at 9 p.m. The inside stage has the Wild Women at 3:30 p.m., Tim Whitmer and the KC Express at 6 p.m., Jason Vivone and the Billy Bats at 8:30 p.m. and the Stone Cutters Union at 11 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 the day of the event. Bring a lawn chair; kids are welcome.

Pianist Tim Whitmer presents his fourth annual July Jazz Jam from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday at Community Christian Church, 4601 Main St. This year it’s a saxophone summit with the horns of Todd Wilkinson, Terry Peffer and Nick Rowland, plus guest vocalist Monique Danielle, and a strong house rhythm section with Whitmer, guitarist Rod Fleeman, bassist James Albright and drummer Jurgen Welge. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door; visit communitychristian.org.

Reed man Tim Doherty’s 9 Plus 1 band performs at 7:30 p.m. Thursdayat Homer’s Coffee House, 7126 W. 80th St., Overland Park.

The Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., has tenor saxophonist Steve Lambert’s quartet at 7 p.m. Thursday,, pianist Joe Cartwright’s group at 8:30 p.m. Friday and bassist James Ward’s band at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Vibraphonist Peter Schlamb runs the Monday jam at 7 p.m.

The Broadway Jazz Club, 3601 Broadway, has a birthday hang with pianist Mark Lowrey and singer Shay Estes from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday. Pianist and singer Rich Hill performs for happy hour at 4:30 p.m. Friday, followed by singer Sharon Andrews at 7 p.m. Singer Eddie Charles performs at 7 p.m. Saturday. There’s a Sunday brunch with pianist Michael Pagán’s Pagarazzi band from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The vocal group Book of Gaia, with singers Angela Hagenbach, Nedra Dixon and Pamela Baskin-Watson, performs at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

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; pianist Eddie Moore and his Outer Circle band at 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 10 p.m.; organist Everette DeVan at 4 p.m. Sunday, followed by the Foundation 627 Big Band at 8 p.m.; the group Intuition, with tenor saxophonists Matt Otto and Steve Lambert, bassist Karl McComas-Reichl and drummer Sam Wisman, at 8 p.m. Monday; trumpeter Stan Kessler’s group at 9 p.m. Tuesday; and OJT again at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Take Five Coffee + Bar, 5336 W. 151st St. in Leawood, has its “final Fridays” fling with vibraphonist Peter Schlamb’s quartet at 8 p.m. Friday. Bassist Gerald Spaits’ quartet with reed man Charles Perkins, trumpeter Jack Lightfoot and drummer Arny Young performs at 8 p.m. Saturday.

San Francisco Bay area trumpeter Erik Jekabson brings his horn and his compositions, and joins the People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City for a unique show at 8 p.m. Sunday at the RecordBar, 1020 Westport Road.

To reach Joe Klopus, call 816-234-4751 or send email to jklopus@kcstar.com.

 

Saturday

The Pat Metheny Unity Group and Bruce Hornsby appear at 8 p.m. at Crossroads KC, 417 E. 18th St. Tickets are $40-$86.50. See crossroadskc.com.

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