Yes, there are food vendors, craft offerings and activities for the kids. But the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival wouldn’t mean a thing without music, lots of music. And it’s here in abundance, on five stages.
Here’s a rundown of the schedules as of press time, broken down by stage.
18th and Vine Stage, on the Paseo
▪ Lalah Hathaway, 7 p.m. Friday: A second-generation soul-singing explorer whose music is like the past, present and future in one.
▪ Brandy, 10 p.m. Friday: The singer and TV star gets back to where it all started for her, the music.
▪ Yazz, 5 p.m. Saturday: Rapper and “Empire” star (he plays Hakeem Lyon).
▪ Kevin Mahogany, 7 p.m. Saturday: The singer is a former Kansas Citian who is now raising standards for male jazz singers around the world.
▪ Hot Sardines, 10 p.m. Saturday: The old songs, the old swing, with a new vibe.
▪ Will Downing, 5:30 p.m. Sunday: A neo-soul/R&B singer with deep jazz roots.
▪ Oleta Adams, 8:30 p.m. Sunday: A Kansas City singer with some 1990s hit records, but that warm sound is much more than nostalgia.
The main stage also has a uniquely Kansas City act, the singing, dancing, horn-playing McFadden Brothers, at 4:45 p.m. Friday.
Charlie Parker Stage, on the Paseo
▪ Chick Corea, 5:45 p.m. Friday: The prolific pianist and composer comes to town with a trio, a format that always seems to bring out the best in him.
▪ John Scofield, 8:30 p.m. Friday: One of the world’s leading guitarists, with taste and authority to match the formidable chops.
▪ Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, 5:30 p.m. Saturday: A big band full of the best musicians in town, led by trumpeter Clint Ashlock.
▪ Bobby Watson, 8:30 p.m. Saturday: The alto saxophonist and composer demonstrates why he’s the present-day leader of the Kansas City jazz tribe.
▪ Logan Richardson, 4:15 p.m. Sunday: A Kansas City-bred alto saxophonist and composer, gaining attention on the world stage and running with the world’s best players.
▪ Regina Carter, 7 p.m. Sunday: Jazz violinist extraordinaire, a sweet sound that digs in and doesn’t let go.
Gem Theater stage, 1615 E. 18th St.
▪ Karrin Allyson with Houston Person, 5:15 p.m. Friday: The former Kansas City singer makes a special appearance with Person, the best tenor sax accompanist a singer can have today.
▪ Pablo Sanhueza and the Kansas City Latin Jazz All Stars, 7 p.m. Friday: Percussion-driven music that reaches for the stars.
▪ Soul Rebels, 9 p.m. Friday: A New Orleans-based outfit that mates the brass-band sound with a hip-hop vibe.
▪ Queen Bey, 5:15 p.m. Saturday: A welcome-home gig for the former Kansas City singer, now based on the West Coast.
▪ Ida McBeth, 7 p.m. Saturday: A good day for singers at the Gem just got even better.
▪ Angela Hagenbach, 9 p.m. Saturday: And there’s no letdown at the end of the day.
▪ Deborah Brown, 5:15 p.m. Sunday: A bebop-inspired Kansas City singer who’s better known abroad than at home.
▪ Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle, 7 p.m., Sunday: Young Kansas City pianist and composer is getting noticed far and wide for his mellow but deep music.
▪ Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band, 9 p.m. Sunday: Blade, drummer for some of the musicians who matter most, such as Wayne Shorter, puts the experience to work in his own compositional and leadership thing.
Blue Room stage, 1600 E. 18th St.
▪ Greg Tardy, 8:30 p.m. Saturday: Among all the jazz stars in the festival lineup, tenor saxophonist Tardy might be the one most likely to be overlooked. Don’t do that.
The full Blue Room lineup has the Elder Statesmen of Kansas City Jazz at 2:30 p.m. Friday, followed by saxophonist Ernest Melton at 4 p.m., the band BMW at 5:30 p.m., singer and guitarist Cedd the Light at 6:30 p.m., vibraphonist Peter Schlamb at 8:15 p.m., saxophonist Charles Perkins with organist Rich Hill at 10 p.m. and tenor saxophonist Matt Otto at 11:30 p.m.
On Saturday, the Blue Room has guitarist Will Matthews’ B3 Organ Project at 2:30 p.m., tenor saxophonist Steve Lambert at 4 p.m., blues man Millage Gilbert at 5:30 p.m., bassist Dominique Sanders at 7 p.m., Tardy at 8:30 p.m. and trombonist Marcus Lewis at 11 p.m.
On Sunday, the Blue Room has organist Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 2:30 p.m., bassist James Ward’s band at 4 p.m., singer Lady D at 5:30 p.m., pianist Charles Williams featuring singer Baby Lee at 7 p.m. and singer Delynia Jannell at 9 p.m.
Kansas City Showcase stage, 18th and Highland
Admission to this stage is free.
Friday’s lineup has neo-soul from Lee Langston and Prototype at 3:15 p.m., blues man John Paul Drum at 5 p.m. and Da Truth at 6:45 p.m.
Saturday has singer Charlotte Fletcher and Soigne at 4 p.m., followed by bassist Blair Bryant at 6:45 p.m.
Sunday has the Vine Street Rumble big band, playing in the 1930s Kansas City style, at 4 p.m. and keyboardist Max Groove at 5 p.m.