Pianist Cyrus Chestnut wouldn’t be ashamed to say it — he makes jazz to entertain people. He’s a man of dazzling chops, sly skills and deep roots in both jazz and gospel, who came up with the “young lions” of the 1980s and has never lost that roar in his playing.
But when he comes to the Folly Theater on Saturday, there’s another name on the marquee next to his, a young vibraphonist named Warren Wolf.
Wolf has been grabbing attention all over the jazz scene by playing with pretty much everybody — he’s been in Bobby Watson’s band and Christian McBride’s band, and he’s also been associated with Wynton Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Ron Carter and many more. (You might also have seen and heard him as a pianist.)
Wolf brings enthusiasm to the stage that matches Chestnut’s. The chemical combination of the two is bound to heat up the Folly.
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The Cyrus Chestnut trio featuring Warren Wolf performs at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 4, at the Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St. Tickets are $20 to $50; check FollyTheater.org or call 816-474-4444. The artists will participate in a question-and-answer session for ticketholders at 7 p.m.
Big band rocks out
The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra won’t be pigeonholed. Its next performance highlights the sounds of the brassiest rock and soul bands of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s: Blood, Sweat and Tears, Chicago, Tower of Power and Earth, Wind and Fire among others. That music was built on a strong foundation of jazz, and leader Clint Ashlock and his big band will use that foundation to build new renditions of these durable favorites.
The concert, “Hard Habit to Break,” happens at 8 p.m. Friday, March 3, in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $20 to $55; check KCJazzOrchestra.org or KauffmanCenter.org or call 816-994-7222.
Looking to the west
The University of Kansas Jazz Festival is back this week, with daytime clinics and master classes for the students and evening performances for everybody. Those evening performances sound especially promising this year for the presence of guitarist and composer Anthony Wilson, second-generation jazzman (the West Coast bandleader and composer Gerald Wilson was his dad) and core member of Diana Krall’s band.
Wilson and KU’s assistant director of jazz studies, tenor saxophonist Matt Otto, go way back, and the two have made some very distinctive music together.
The first one is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 3, in Woodruff Auditorium at the Kansas Union, featuring Wilson with the KU Jazz Festival All-Star Big Band, also the KU Jazz Ensemble and the festival’s outstanding high school ensemble. The second is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 4, also in Woodruff Auditorium, featuring a Wilson group, Otto’s band and the festival’s outstanding college ensemble.
Tickets are $15, $10 for students and seniors, for each night. Get them at the door or call 785-864-7469.
▪ The band Alaturka, self-described as a “musical handshake” between American jazz and Turkish classical music, plays the next show in the Jazz Winterlude series at Johnson County Community College. The band has Beau Bledsoe on oud (a lute-type stringed instrument), tenor saxophonist Rich Wheeler, percussionist Brandon Draper and bassist Jeff Harshbarger, and violinist Zsolt Eder will be a guest. The show is at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, in the Polsky Theatre; tickets are $20.
▪ The next concert in the Spirituality and All That Jazz series matches guitarist Rod Fleeman with pianist Tim Whitmer’s band, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 1, at Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 W. 47th St.
▪ The next live performance-recording session for the “12th Street Jump” radio show honors the music of pianist Tommy Flanagan. It takes place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 1, at the Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd.
▪ The Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., has the Louis Neal Big Band at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27. March is a month saluting women in jazz, starting with singer Shay Estes and a special guest whose name just might be elsewhere in this column joining Matt Otto’s quartet at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 2; singer Charlotte Fletcher at 8:30 p.m. Friday and singer Lisa Henry at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
▪ The Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., has pianist Roger Wilder’s trio at 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, followed by tenor saxophonist Steve Lambert’s quintet at 10:30 p.m.; guitarists Danny Embrey and Rod Fleeman at noon Monday, Feb. 27, followed by guitarist Matt Hopper’s trio at 6 p.m. and tenor saxophonist Steve Martin’s trio at 10:30 p.m.; organist Chris Hazelton’s trio at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, followed by bassist Gerald Spaits’ trio at 11:30 p.m.; organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 1, followed by saxophonist Ernest Melton’s quartet at 10:30 p.m.; Guitar Elation at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 2, followed by pianist Joe Cartwright with bassist Tyrone Clark and drummer Todd Strait at 10:30 p.m.; Cartwright, Clark and Strait again at 2 p.m. Friday, followed by pianist Tim Whitmer’s quartet at 5:30 p.m., the band Dojo at 8:30 p.m. downstairs and Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 upstairs at 10 p.m.; and Wilder at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by OJT again at 6 p.m., Strait’s quartet at 9 p.m. downstairs and Hopper’s trio at 10:30 p.m. upstairs.
▪ The Westport Coffeehouse Theater, 4010 Pennsylvania Ave., has trombonists Eric Chapman and Emmett Starkey at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28.
Joe Klopus, 816-234-4751