Music News & Reviews

Jazz Town: Guitarist Bill Frisell will return to Kansas City

Guitarist Bill Frisell, who brings his latest project to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on Sunday, has long delighted in crossing musical boundaries.

And the graceful way he’s done it has made him popular and widely influential.

Yes, he’s a “jazz” player, but there’s rock, country and folk in his playing, along with perhaps every other music he’s ever experienced. It’s a very contemporary conception, but the thing that lingers in the ear is the lonesome backwoods wail in his sound. He can fit that wail into a variety of settings — and Frisell keeps things fresh by changing the setting often. Each new project he takes up has a surprisingly different focus.

Last year, he came to town on the Harriman-Jewell Series to play open-ended improvisations on material associated with and inspired by Woody Guthrie. The same series is bringing him back this year, and the theme is utterly different: the show, called “When You Wish Upon a Star,” explores the songs from classic Disney movies — the sweet songs and the not-so-sweet songs.

This time, Frisell is bringing a different band, with violist Eyvind Kang, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Kenny Wollesen. And the words of those songs will be explored by singer Petra Haden, daughter of jazz giant Charlie Haden.

The show is at 5 p.m. Sunday in the Atkins Auditorium at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Tickets are $15 to $30 and were nearly sold out at press time. Check

Even if you saw and heard Frisell last year, this show is guaranteed to be a completely different kind of experience. And speaking of Frisell’s ability to make things new each time, know that the Harriman-Jewell series already has booked him at the Nelson again on April 22 of next year.

“British invasion”

The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra is going a little bit outside the box for its next show, and that’s all for the good. The orchestra is taking on the challenge of playing jazz treatments of songs we associate with British pop of the ’60s and ’70s — from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Tom Jones, the Zombies. The well-loved tunes are getting fresh new arrangements from bandleader Clint Ashlock.

Also on the show is a new collaborator, singer/songwriter Jessica Paige, usually heard around town in the folk idiom. This performance will definitely show the KCJO in a different light, and its members are some of the best players in town, so they’re up to the challenge.

The show is at 8 p.m. Friday in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $20 to $55. Call 816-994-7222.

Don’t be alarmed by the presence of those rock and pop tunes — the KCJO is not straying from its jazz mission. The next concert, in April, celebrates the sound of New Orleans.

Basse and Cartwright Inc.

Something happens when singer David Basse and pianist Joe Cartwright get together. Each one is very much his own man, as both have demonstrated on the Kansas City scene for nearly 40 years. But there’s a certain chemistry in the combination.

They’ve recorded a CD together, just keyboard and voice, in the Pilgrim Chapel in midtown. And now they’ve scheduled a CD release celebration concert, also to be held at the chapel, 3807 Gillham Road. The event is at 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 and can be had at The CD, amazingly called “Live at Pilgrim Chapel,” is $15 and will be available at the show.


▪ The Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., has the Jazz Disciples running the Monday jam, at 7 p.m. The Kansas City Latin Jazz All-Stars are on at 7 p.m. Thursday. Singer Charlotte Fletcher and her band appear at 8:30 p.m. Friday, and the Wild Men of Kansas City appear at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

▪ The Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., has the Foundation 627 Big Band at 8:30 p.m. Sunday; trumpeter Stan Kessler’s Force 5 band at 7 p.m. Monday; organist Chris Hazelton’s trio at 7 p.m. Tuesday, followed by the band Sequel at 10:30 p.m.; the New Jazz Order big band at 7 p.m. Wednesday, followed by organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 9 p.m.; guitarist Matt Hopper’s trio at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, followed by saxophonist Brett Jackson’s quartet at 9 p.m.; pianist Tim Whitmer at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by Sequel downstairs and Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 upstairs, both at 10 p.m.; and saxophonist Todd Wilkinson’s Unusual Suspects at 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by OJT at 9:30 p.m.

▪ Guitarist Ron Carlson’s quartet performs at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Art Factory, 5621 W. 135th St., Suite 2630, in the Prairiefire development in Overland Park.

Joe Klopus, 816-234-4751