Music News & Reviews

Jazz Town: KC Jazz Orchestra opens season with Broadway favorites

Lori Tucker will join Tim Whitmer for the next Spirituality and All That Jazz concert on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at the Unity Temple on the Plaza.
Lori Tucker will join Tim Whitmer for the next Spirituality and All That Jazz concert on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at the Unity Temple on the Plaza. Submitted photo

No matter how much jazz players or their audiences may value a good original composition, there is always appreciation for a familiar tune. And familiar tunes sound especially good in sharp arrangements played by a fiery big band.

That’s where the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra comes in. Its season opener on Friday, Oct. 7, is a program titled “Classic Big Band Broadway.” The batch of popular show tunes, from the boisterous “There’s No Business Like Show Business” to the pensive “Maria,” will take on slightly different hues in the hands of the big band and its leader, trumpeter Clint Ashlock.

The orchestra, going since 2003, promises Rodgers and Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, Lerner and Loewe and more — played to the hilt by an enthusiastic crew of some of the best musicians in town.

They’re also playing in one of the best halls in town. The show is at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $20-$55; call 816-994-7222.


▪ Ensemble Ibérica, a project of guitarist Beau Bledsoe and friends, explores the music of Spain and Portugal and their many influences. Their next program, “Cubanissmo,” looks into one such legacy that’s still growing: the Cuban son, a music where Iberia and Africa intersected, creating a style that helped give birth to Afro-Cuban jazz and many other things.

The program has several jazz players, including tenor saxophonist Rich Wheeler, trumpeter Hermon Mehari and percussionist Brandon Draper. And it importantly features two guests: vocalists Mireya Ramos and Shae Fiol from the Latin Grammy-nominated Mariachi Flor De Toloache. The program will be given twice: at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St. in Lawrence, and at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, at the Heim Building (above Rieger whiskey distillery), 2700 Guinotte Ave. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at

▪ The Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., has alto saxophonist Mike Herrera leading the jam at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Lester “Duck” Warner performs at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6. The Sons of Brasil appear at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, and the Jazz Disciples are on at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8.

▪ The next concert in the Spirituality and All That Jazz series features singer Lori Tucker with Tim Whitmer and band. It’s at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, at the Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 W. 47th St.

▪ The Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., has singer Molly Hammer at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, followed by trumpeter Stan Kessler’s Cornerstone at 9:30 p.m.; Mark Lowrey on solo piano at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3, followed by the group B Vibe at 9 p.m.; organist Chris Hazelton’s trio at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4, followed by bassist Gerald Spaits’ trio at 9:30 p.m.; drummer Natalie Bates’ trio at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, followed by organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 9 p.m.; guitarist Matt Hopper’s trio at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, followed by Hazelton’s quartet at 9 p.m.; pianist Tim Whitmer at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, followed by vibraphonist Peter Schlamb’s Electric Tinks at 9 p.m. and Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 10 p.m.; and the return of the Foundation 627 Big Band at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, followed by Hammer at 6 p.m., drummer Danny Rojas’ quartet at 8:30 p.m.

▪ The Westport CoffeeHouse Theatre, 4010 Pennsylvania Ave., has bassist Gerald Spaits’ Sax and Violins project, with a jazz quartet and a string quartet truly interacting, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5.

▪ Trumpeter Hermon Mehari’s quartet plays the next show on the midday jazz series at Johnson County Community College, at noon Tuesday, Oct. 4, in the Polsky Theatre.

Joe Klopus, 816-234-4751