Music News & Reviews

Julian Lage trio highlights the week’s jazz offerings

The jazz world, like the pop-culture world, has seen plenty of young prodigies over the years. And just as with pop-culture prodigies, once jazz prodigies aren’t so young anymore, the world tends to forget about them.

Guitarist Julian Lage, who’s bringing his trio to the Folly Theater on Saturday, is the glorious exception. This prodigy at 27 appears to be fulfilling all that early promise and then some. He’s a player with a wealth of experience rare for his age and an abundance of imagination and skill rare for any age.

He’s probably tired of hearing the “prodigy” stuff, but to say that Lage got his music together early would be an understatement. Somebody made a documentary film about him and his playing when he was all of 8. He recorded with mandolin master David Grisman at 12. He was on the Grammy television broadcast at 13. He was teaching at the Stanford Jazz Workshop at 15 and working with vibraphonist Gary Burton at 16.

All of that is probably ancient history to him now, because Lage hasn’t stopped to rest on his already considerable laurels. He’s still expanding his style, putting his jazz, blues, folk and classical influences to work in collaborating with an ever-expanding array of artists including Chris Eldridge from the Punch Brothers and Nels Cline from Wilco. Not to mention the improvising trio he’s bringing to the Folly.

He’s moving ahead, quickly, and right now he’s walking in nobody’s footsteps but his own.  


▪ The next live performance-recording session for the “12th Street Jump” radio show is an auspicious one, with singer Kevin Mahogany coming back to his hometown to sing a collection of his favorite songs. It’s also celebrating the show’s move to another venue, a good one — the Orion Room downstairs at the Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd. The show is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; tickets are $20 at the door or $15 in advance by calling 816-421-7500.

▪ Speaking of singers, Brenna Whitaker, a former Kansas Citian who’s been on the West Coast for a while, now has a self-titled album available on the Verve label.

▪ The Sons of Brasil perform at 8 p.m. Friday on the Fall Jazz Series at the Art Factory, 5621 W. 135th St., Overland Park.

▪ The Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., has the Jazz Disciples in charge of the Monday jam, at 7 p.m. Organist Everette DeVan is on at 7 p.m. Thursday, and bassist Bob Bowman’s band with tenor saxophonist Matt Otto is on at 8:30 p.m. Friday. Tenor saxophonist Rick DiMuzio’s quartet performs at 8:30 p.m. Saturday; the band features pianist Jo Ann Daugherty (whose Blue Room sets were highlights of Kansas City’s 18th and Vine Jazz and Blues Festival last month) and singer Lisa Henry.

▪ Other highlights at the Green Lady Lounge include the Foundation 627 Big Band at 8:30 p.m. Sunday; guitarist Matt Hopper’s trio at 9 p.m. Thursday; pianist Tim Whitmer’s quartet at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by singer Molly Hammer at 8:30 p.m. and organist Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 10 p.m.; and organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

▪ It may seem at times that there aren’t enough chances being taken in present-day Kansas City jazz, but you can’t accuse bassist Gerald Spaits of playing it safe with this one. His new Sax and Violins venture is a double quartet, teaming Spaits, saxophonists Charles Perkins and Rich Wheeler and drummer Brian Steever with a string quartet. “The strings are not just added to the jazz quartet for background but are interactive within the ensemble,” he says in an email.

Spaits promises original music along with arrangements of pieces by Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington and the Beatles. The double quartet makes its public debut at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Westport CoffeeHouse Theater, 4010 Pennsylvania Ave. Tickets are $10.

Joe Klopus, 816-234-4751


The Julian Lage Trio performs at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St. Tickets are $50 to $20; call 816-474-4444 or visit Lage will participate in a question-and-answer session for ticketholders at 7 p.m.