We jazz people like the appeal of the underdog — the unrecognized name, the little-known player or singer, the outsider.
But no matter how many underdogs we enthuse about, the highly recognized artists and the name-brand performers still have considerable appeal.
In present-day jazz, there’s no bigger brand name than Marsalis. And the biggest name in that distinguished jazz family, trumpeter Wynton, is bringing his big band to Kansas City this week.
The trumpeter and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra appear Thursday at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland in a holiday-themed show on the Harriman-Jewell Series. Yes, there will be no shortage of holiday-themed jazz events in December, but this one offers more than the usual attractions.
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Marsalis and his big band will play the holiday classics with a combination of New Orleans flavor and New York spit-and-polish. It’s exactly what you expect from this name-brand band.
But there’s another reason to attend this show — they’ll be joined by singer Catherine Russell, herself a member of a distinguished jazz family. (Her father, Luis Russell, ran one of the most important big bands of the late ’20s and early ’30s and served as Louis Armstrong’s musical director; her mother was in the International Sweethearts of Rhythm band.)
The Marsalis tour touches down at the Midland, 1228 Main St., at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $30 to $85. Check HJSeries.org.
▪ Highlights at the Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., include the Boulevard Big Band at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, followed by saxophonist Ernest Melton’s quartet at 9:30 p.m.; keyboardist Max Groove’s trio at 4:30 p.m. Monday, followed by the Crossroads Quartet at 9 p.m.; alto saxophonist Mike Herrera’s quartet at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday; drummer Natalie Bates’ trio at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, followed by organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 9 p.m.; organist Chris Hazelton’s quartet at 9 p.m. Thursday, followed by reed man Charles Perkins, bassist Gerald Spaits and drummer Todd Strait at 12:30 a.m.; pianist Tim Whitmer’s quartet at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by vibraphonist Peter Schlamb’s Electric Tinks at 9 p.m. downstairs and Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 10 p.m.; and a performance-recording session for Whitmer’s work-in-progress radio show at 3 p.m. Saturday, followed by OJT at 6 p.m. and Hazelton’s quartet at 9 p.m.
▪ Pianist-composer Brad Cox leads an octet at 9:30 p.m. Thursday at The Ship, 1217 Union Ave.
Joe Klopus, 816-234-4751