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Jazz pianist Mark Lowrey is bringing the year to a busy close

Musician Mark Lowrey
Musician Mark Lowrey

Mark Lowrey is not ending 2014 quietly. The Kansas City jazz pianist recently released a live album, collaborated with Kansas City rapper Tech N9ne and organized a music benefit.

Saturday night, the Mark Lowrey Trio and other jazz musicians will perform at a benefit for the music department of Holy Cross Catholic School, 121 N. Quincy Ave. Lowrey performed for fourth-graders at the school this year as part of Take the Stage, an outreach program by the Owen/Cox Dance Group.

“I was the accompanist, assisting Rebka Sakati, a former Kansas City ballet dancer, in a creative movement class that incorporated choreography, rhythm and expression through dance,” he said. “Owen/Cox offers this service most often to schools who don’t have extra funding for supplemental arts programs.”

While he was there, Lowrey noticed the school’s music department was in need.

“They needed more and better classroom instruments and materials, even a new electronic keyboard,” he said. “So wheels started turning. I remembered how much I enjoyed and appreciated having a decent elementary school music program in my life, so I decided to do something about it.”

He called Rusty Sneary, who owns the Living Room, a theater and performance space near 18th and McGee streets, and booked a benefit. Lowrey will perform with bassist Bill McKemy, who has two children enrolled at Holy Cross, drummer John Kizilarmut and other guest musicians. Showtime is 7 p.m. A minimum $10 donation is requested.

“All the artists are donating their time,” Lowrey said. “All proceeds go to the Holy Cross music department, and the school will decide the best use of the funds as long as they are related to music or the arts.”

The benefit comes about a week after the Mark Lowrey Trio (Lowrey on piano, Karl McComas-Reichl on bass and Sam Wisman on drums) released “Waltzes and Consolations,” a live album recorded at the Majestic.

“It is somewhat of a concept record,” Lowrey said. “As the title suggests, there are many tracks in 3/4 time, mostly originals but a few covers, including ‘Between the Bars’ by Elliott Smith and a post-modern arrangement of the ‘Gymnopedies’ by Erik Satie.

“The ‘Consolations’ part of the concept is based on a few short pieces by Franz Liszt, pieces that were meant to comfort or console both the listener and pianist in times of melancholy. Those (pieces) are not on the record, but that same intention of healing, if you will, was put into some of the compositions and execution.”

Lowrey will also appear on the next Tech N9ne project, “Sound Effects.” He said the experience was an exceptional one.

“I worked mostly with producer Seven (born Michael Summers),” he said. “I played Fender Rhodes on one track at Strange Music Studio, and on the other two tracks, I made a ‘field recording’ at the Majestic.

“The process was really rewarding. Seven and I talked conceptually about each song quite a bit. I would improvise and hone an idea, then we would record it, do several variations, and Seven took that away to add beats and sound design. The tracks I did with Seven are pretty much built off the initial piano recordings.

“On the song I played the Rhodes, they actually took the recording of me and other musicians, pressed it to vinyl and then recorded the sound of a record player playing the record. Several live musicians are on this record, including my friend Steve Lambert on flute.”

Copies of “Waltzes and Consolations” will be available at the Living Room benefit and at Vinyl Renaissance, 1415 W. 39th St. Tech N9ne’s “Sound Effects” is scheduled to be released in March.

Christmas night

There are a few options for those looking to get out of the house Thursday night and catch some live music:

▪ KC’s other world-famous rapper, Mac Lethal, is putting on his third annual Christmas Extravaganza at the Riot Room, 4048 Broadway. Mac Lethal, who performed on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and amassed 15 million YouTube hits this year, will perform all new material and welcome special guests onstage. Showtime is 9 p.m. Tickets are $10-$15. It’s a 21-and-older show.

▪ The RecordBar, 1020 Westport Road, is presenting Jesse Harris and the Gypsy Sparrows, a country trio. Evin Brady opens at 10 p.m. Admission is $7. It’s an 18-and-older show.

▪ The Tank Room, 1813 Grand Blvd., is hosting a Christmas night open mic. All singer/songwriters are welcome. Showtime is 8 p.m.

To reach Timothy Finn, call 816-234-4781 or send email to tfinn@kcstar.com. Follow the Back to Rockville blog on Twitter @kcstarrockville.

SATURDAY

The Mark Lowrey Trio and other jazz artists will perform at 7 p.m. at the Living Room, 1818 McGee St. The show is a benefit for the music department at Holy Cross Catholic School, 121 N. Quincy Ave. A minimum $10 donation at the door is requested.

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