Life in KC

UMKC student is all about that KC jazz

University of Missouri-Kansas City student Macy Layne says her goal is to bring Kansas City jazz into the 21st century.
University of Missouri-Kansas City student Macy Layne says her goal is to bring Kansas City jazz into the 21st century.

Macy Layne is into all things local, but local music has a special place in her heart above the shops and restaurants and sports teams. Blues, swing and jazz are favorites.

“Live music is really my passion,” Layne said on a recent Monday morning over coffee at Mud Pie Vegan Bakery and Coffeehouse, 1615 W. 39th St.

“I just love being in front of local musicians at local venues in Kansas City. You know, buy a drink, listen to some music,” she said. “It’s a great night.”

For the love of jazz

Layne, a 22-year-old University of Missouri-Kansas City student working on a major in interpersonal and public communications, moved to Kansas City from Joplin, Mo., about four years ago for school — that’s when she really fell in love with jazz.

But she didn’t go all-in until she started working for the Main Street Corridor Development Corporation and volunteering as communications director for KC Jazz Alive, a nonprofit that promotes and supports the local jazz community.

Layne says her goal is to help bring Kansas City jazz “to the 21st century.”

One of her duties is acting as social media coordinator for the Charlie Parker Celebration, which runs through Aug. 27.

In the eight months Layne’s been working with KC Jazz Alive, she’s built a Facebook following of more than 700 followers.

She uses the handle “KCJazzAlive” for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Getting Out

Layne says she’s found that going to clubs is the best way to meet people and make connections within the jazz community.

“There’s a big upswing in millennials and people my age attending stuff like this, and it’s a lot of fun. I’ve met so many people just traveling around the city and listening to music,” Layne says.

One of her go-to spots is Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd.

“I mean, it’s like a real jazz club, you know, it’s dark, it’s spacious, it’s a lot of fun,” she says.

“I also really enjoy Cafe Trio. It’s completely different from Green Lady. ... They have a grand piano in the main room, and there are pianists who are there several nights a week.”

Her heroes

As far as local musicians go, pianist Tim Whitmer and trumpeters Hermon Mehari and Stan Kessler are her faves.

But Layne’s main focus right now is on Charlie Parker, the legendary jazz saxophonist and composer who pioneered bebop. Parker was born in Kansas City, Kan., on Aug. 29, 1920, and raised in Kansas City, Mo. Parker died in 1955; his 96th birthday would have been Monday.

The third annual Charlie Parker Celebration is all about honoring Parker’s legacy with live jazz, a birthday celebration at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center and a tour of the American Jazz Museum led by Chuck Haddix, a jazz history expert who hosts “The Fish Fry” on KCUR.

Layne says, “In so many ways, Charlie Parker made jazz what it is today. His influence still lingers in Kansas City’s vibrant jazz scene. He will always be known as one of the greatest musicians in jazz history.”

The tour is the only ticketed part of the 10-day celebration. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased on It starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at the museum, 1616 E. 18th St., and ends at the Lincoln Cemetery, where Parker is buried, with a 21-sax salute.