Music News & Reviews

KC jazz singer Deborah Brown is back in town for a Blue Room gig

Kansas City-produced jazz singer Deborah Brown has a gig at the Blue Room on Saturday, March 11.
Kansas City-produced jazz singer Deborah Brown has a gig at the Blue Room on Saturday, March 11. The Kansas City Star

This week brings a dramatic demonstration of Kansas City jazz’s renown with a show by singer Deborah Brown, one of the best modern jazz singers the city has produced and one of the most fearless vocal improvisers you’ll ever hear.

Brown, who’s not as well-known in her hometown as she should be, has built most of her career overseas. But she has a relatively rare homecoming gig at the Blue Room on Saturday, March 11.

With that gig comes a bit of news. She’s celebrating the release of a new CD, “Kansas City Here I Come,” which, despite its name, was made in Poland, one of the countries that have been especially beneficial to her career.

The recording features Brown with a solid cast of European and American musicians. Singer Kevin Mahogany, another Kansas City product on the world stage, makes a guest appearance. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a chamber orchestra. Obviously, Brown’s friends in Poland wanted to see that this recording was done right.

Her Blue Room appearances also tend to be occasions where Brown and her friends get it right. Hear them at 8:30 p.m. Saturday; tickets are $10.

Watson’s way

Speaking of Kansas City artists being heard around the world via recordings, alto saxophonist Bobby Watson has a new one coming soon. This one, called “Made in America,” is due April 21 from the Smoke Sessions record label, allied with Smoke Jazz Club in New York.

Watson’s “Made in America” is a history lesson in sound, following, if you will, the line of thinking that led to “Hidden Figures” — the compositions honor nine African-American achievers who aren’t in all the history books. The list includes Sammy Davis Jr., Butterfly McQueen and Madam C.J. Walker.

The disc was made with a first-class New York rhythm section including bassist Curtis Lundy, Watson’s musical partner since the ’70s, pianist Stephen Scott and drummer Lewis Nash.


▪ RecordBar, 1520 Grand Blvd., has the People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City, directed by Brad Cox, at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 5.

▪ The Blue Room salutes women in jazz this month. Trombonist Karita Carter leads the Monday jam on March 6 at 7 p.m. Singer Megan Birdsall performs at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 9. The vocal group Book of Gaia, with Angela Hagenbach, Nedra Dixon and Pamela Baskin-Watson, performs at 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 10.

▪ The Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., has organist Everette DeVan, drummer Danny Rojas, guitarist Matt Hopper and singer Eboni Fondren at 6 p.m. Sunday, March 5, followed by tenor saxophonist Steve Lambert’s quintet at 10:30 p.m.; singer Molly Hammer at noon Monday, followed by Hopper’s trio at 6 p.m. and trumpeter Stan Kessler’s Crossroads Quartet at 10:30 p.m.; a showcase for the University of Missouri-Kansas City jazz program at 6 p.m. Tuesday, followed by bassist Gerald Spaits and reed man Charles Perkins at 10:30 p.m.; organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 6 p.m. Wednesday, followed by saxophonist Ernest Melton’s quartet at 10:30 p.m.; Guitar Elation at 6 p.m. Thursday, followed by pianist Joe Cartwright’s trio at 10:30 p.m.; a matinee by Fondren and Cartwright at 2 p.m. Friday, followed by pianist Tim Whitmer’s quartet at 5:30 p.m., Hammer at 8:30 p.m. downstairs and organist Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 10 p.m. upstairs; and pianist Roger Wilder at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, March 11, followed by OJT at 6 p.m., drummer Natalie Bates’ quartet at 9 p.m. downstairs and the New Transition Quartet at 10:30 p.m. upstairs.

▪ The midday jazz series at Johnson County Community College is back. And this week’s show is a jazz organ summit of sorts, with Everette DeVan and Chris Hazelton on the Hammond B3. It’s at noon Tuesday, March 7, in the Polsky Theatre, and it’s free.

▪ Looking ahead a little: Singer Eboni Fondren headlines the next Kansas City Jazz Vespers, at 6 p.m. March 12 at the First Baptist Church of Kansas City, at Wornall and Red Bridge roads. There’s a free-will offering.

Joe Klopus, 816-234-4751