Music News & Reviews

Folly Jazz Series’ new season lineup includes veteran virtuosos, exciting newcomer

Arturo Sandoval will perform April 27, 2019.
Arturo Sandoval will perform April 27, 2019.

Get ready to renew acquaintances with some old friends and make a new one in the deal.

The Folly Theater’s jazz series lineup for 2018-19 is complete, and there’s a comfortable air of familiarity about it. Most of the shows feature headliners who aren’t strangers to this series or to Kansas City audiences. There might be some nice surprises, though.

The schedule goes like this:

Ramsey Lewis and Urban Knights will open the Folly Jazz series season on Sept. 27.

▪ Ramsey Lewis and Urban Knights, Sept. 27 (a Thursday): The groove master pianist, a Kansas City favorite, returns with his Urban Knights band, with guitarist Henry Johnson as instrumental foil. Lewis was last on the Folly series in 2004, but he has also been at the Gem three times in the last decade, including twice in 2017.

Larry Carlton will perform Oct. 12.

▪ Larry Carlton, Oct. 12: You know this guitarist’s work even if you don’t know his name; he estimates he has been on thousands of recording sessions. Check out his solos on Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne” one more time. His runs with the Crusaders, Fourplay and others have added to his popularity, and his solo career continues to thrive.

▪ Yellowjackets, Jan. 18, 2019: This band stepped out from behind another artist in the ’80s and hasn’t had any reason to play second fiddle to anybody since. They’re Folly favorites, having been on the series in 2011, 2007 and 2002.

▪ Kandace Springs, Feb. 15: This young singer and pianist, headlining in Kansas City for the first time, came up on R&B and hip-hop but found the musical freedom and power she was really looking for in jazz.

▪ Kurt Elling, March 9: The singer’s awesome vocal chops serve all kinds of material well, and his hipster-poet persona can lead his music to some surprising places. He was on the Folly series in 2007, at the Gem in 2013 and at the Kauffman Center with Branford Marsalis in 2017.

JR Square FB
Joshua Redman will be back in Kansas City on April 11, 2019.

▪ Joshua Redman, April 11: The second-generation tenor saxophonist who gave up law school for music brings a quartet to town. He was last at the Folly in 2007 and was at the Gem with The Bad Plus in 2016.

▪ Arturo Sandoval, April 27: The Cuban exile is one of the world’s top trumpeters, with chops that continue to amaze. He was on the Folly series in 2011, at an 18th and Vine festival in 2012 and at Johnson County Community College in 2014.

Individual tickets to the Folly series will be available at 816-474-4444 or

The bigger band

The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, now 15 years old, is powering its way into another season under the guidance of trumpeter Clint Ashlock. The band, with one of the best players in town in every position, has a four-show regular season of themed concerts at Helzberg Hall in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts:

▪ Autumn in New York, Oct. 12: Another dive into the Great American Song Book, with familiar songs presented in surprising arrangements.

▪ Winter Wonderland, Dec. 4 (a Tuesday): The annual holiday concert.

▪ Spring Fever, March 22, 2019: The big band expands with a string section to play love songs, familiar and not-so-familiar.

▪ Summer in the City, May 3: Anyone who says big band plus Motown hits won’t work together will be proved wrong.

Tickets are available at 816-994-7222 or


▪ Organist Chris Hazelton and his Boogaloo 7 are having a record release party for their newest, called “The Basement Beat.” Celebrate with them at 8 p.m. Sunday, July 22, at the Black Dolphin, 1813 Grand Blvd.

▪ The Black Dolphin is also the scene of the next live performance/recording session for the “12th Street Jump” radio show. That’s at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 25.

▪ The Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., has the KC Latin Jazz Orchestra at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 26; bassist Tyrone Clark’s quartet at 8:30 p.m. Friday, July 27; and singer Ida McBeth 8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 28.

▪ The Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., has the RSS Trio at 10:30 p.m. Sunday, July 22; Chris Hazelton’s trio at 6 p.m. Monday, July 23, followed by the Villinger-Schlamb trio at 10:30 p.m.; guitarist Matt Hopper at 6 and 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 24, followed by Tyrone Clark’s trio at 11:30 p.m.; OJT at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, followed by Clark’s quartet at 10:30 p.m.; Hazelton’s trio at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 26, followed by the RSS Trio at 10:30 p.m.; Tim Whitmer’s quartet at 5:30 p.m. Friday, July 27, followed by Embrey, Lovern and Strait at 8:30 p.m. downstairs, the Boogaloo 7 at 9 p.m. upstairs and organist Matt Villinger’s trio after midnight; and organist Ken Lovern’s trio at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 28, followed by Guitar Elation at 8 p.m., keyboardist Mitch Towne’s trio at 8:30 p.m. downstairs and tenor saxophonist Stephen Martin’s quartet at 11:30 p.m.

▪ Pianist Tim Whitmer breaks up the summer doldrums with his eighth annual July Jazz Jam on Sunday, July 29. The bill includes singers Molly Hammer, Havilah Bruders and Danny Cox (happy 75th, Danny!), guitarist Rod Fleeman, saxophonist Jim Mair, bassist James Albright and drummer Jurgen Welge. The show is at 4 p.m. July 29 at the Community Christian Church, 4601 Main St.; tickets are $20 in advance at the church ( or $25 at the door.