Music News & Reviews

Jazz Town: Kansas City’s jazz chemistry on display this week

Trio Red — one Briton, one Scot and one Norwegian — will play at the Blue Room Thursday, June 25.
Trio Red — one Briton, one Scot and one Norwegian — will play at the Blue Room Thursday, June 25.

Jazz thrives on interaction, the chemistry in the ways musicians combine their ideas and efforts. And we’re lucky that there’s so much chemistry going on in the Kansas City jazz scene, all the time.

Especially in weeks like this.

At first glance, the week’s jazz calendar appears fairly ordinary. But looking deeper, running through the listings night by night, it’s striking how little repetition there is. That’s the depth and breadth of our scene, as it thrives despite all the distractions that can keep an audience away. That’s the Kansas City jazz chemistry at work.

Really, this “routine” list, which isn’t complete, has plenty of freshness and plenty of promise. Just take a look:

▪ Sunday: Start early with the brunch at Take Five Coffee + Bar out south. Guitarist Michael McClintock is the host, with the Brazilian-oriented group Mistura Fina. It’s at 10 a.m.; the venue is at 6601 W. 135th St., Suite A-21, in Overland Park, behind the Von Maur store.

Later, the Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., has the Foundation 627 Big Band, co-led by tenor saxophonist Steven Lambert and trumpeter Ryan Thielman, at 8:30 p.m.

▪ Monday: The traditional Monday jam at the Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., is led this week by the Jazz Disciples, the long-running band that practically owns the place. It’s at 7 p.m.

The superb pianist Pat Coil, who’s originally from Jefferson City, lives in Nashville, Tenn., now. But he gets back to Missouri from time to time to jam with old friends and make some new ones. He’ll be at the Green Lady at 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, singer Millie Edwards and guitarist Tom DeMasters host an open-mic night at the Phoenix, 302 W. Eighth St., at 7 p.m.

▪ Tuesday: There’s more jamming, as guitarist Matt Hopper leads a session at the Phoenix at 7 p.m. Trumpeter Hermon Mehari’s group plays at the Majestic, 931 Broadway Blvd., at 6 p.m. The Sequel Trio performs at the Green Lady at 9 p.m.

The New Jazz Order big band, led by trumpeter Clint Ashlock, performs at 9 p.m. at Harlings, 3941 Main St.

▪ Wednesday: It’s time for another edition of the “12th Street Jump” radio show to be recorded live. This one honors the great blues composer Willie Dixon, and singer Tom “Trashmouth” Baker is along for the ride. It’s at 7 p.m. at the Broadway Kansas City, 3601 Broadway.

The Green Lady has guitarist Adam Schlozman’s Earth Trio at 7:30 p.m., followed by organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 9 p.m. Meanwhile, the Majestic has Mehari’s group at 6 p.m. again.

▪ Thursday: Trumpeter Dave Scott, a former Missourian, has a long friendship with tenor saxophonist Matt Otto, a former West Coaster. And when they get together, the music is unstoppable. Their quartet appears at 8 p.m. on the Jazz Underground series at the Westport CoffeeHouse Theatre, 4010 Pennsylvania Ave.

There’s trans-Atlantic jazz in town when Trio Red — one Briton, one Scot and one Norwegian — lands at the Blue Room at 7 p.m. Their repertory is said to span from Jeff Buckley to Ornette Coleman.

The newish big band in town, the Broadway Jazz Orchestra, led by drummer Jim Lower, performs at 7 p.m. at the Broadway. The Green Lady has saxophonist Brett Jackson’s group at 9 p.m. The Majestic has pianist Mark Lowrey at 6 p.m.

▪ Friday: The Blue Room features the reigning boss of KC organists, Everette DeVan, at 8:30 p.m. He’s noted for working with singers, and his collaborator on this night, Sharon Thompson, is one of his best associates.

The Friday fun can start early. The Phoenix has singer/trumpeter/dancer Lonnie McFadden at 4:30 p.m., followed by singer Shay Estes at 9 p.m. The Green Lady has pianist Tim Whitmer at 5:30 p.m., singer Molly Hammer at 8:30 p.m. and organist Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 10 p.m. The Broadway has Steven Lambert’s quartet with singer Megan Birdsall at 8:30 p.m.

The Majestic has pianist Bram Wijnands, cultivator and guardian of the old stride style, at 7 p.m.

▪ Saturday: It’s a good night for vocalists. Singer Lisa Engelken, a former Kansan with a delightfully unconventional approach to pretty much every aspect of her art, swings back through town for a gig at 8 p.m. at Take Five. And Ida McBeth, one of the best Kansas City has ever had, is onstage at the Blue Room at 8:30 p.m.

You can start early with a brunch at the Phoenix with cornetist Alex Abramovitz and his band from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by singer Kelley Gant at 4:30 p.m. The Majestic has Wijnands again, at 7 p.m.

The Broadway has Schlambert, vibraphonist Peter Schlamb’s collaboration with Steven Lambert, at 8:30 p.m. The Green Lady has guitarist Myles Gorham at 6 p.m., followed by OJT at 9:30 p.m.

So, you see, that full week of music is bubbling with the potential for reactions that will stand out in your mind for a long time to come. No lab coat is necessary — just enjoy.