Maturity in jazz is a tricky thing. Some good musicians never really get there, even in long careers. But some seem to get there quickly.
That’s the case of Kansas City-bred alto saxophonist Logan Richardson, who this week is paying a visit to his old stomping ground, the Blue Room. Not all that many years ago, it seems, he was part of a batch of deeply gifted musicians who came up in the Paseo Academy, and he benefited from some Bobby Watson mentoring as well as time at the New School in New York. Now he’s on the world stage and thriving.
By the time Richardson was 21, he was playing and writing like someone who was going to make things happen in the future of jazz. Now he’s 35, touring in support of a new album on a major label and playing with an expressive focus that relatively few players ever find.
The new album on Blue Note, “Shift,” features his horn amidst a cast of giants, including pianist Jason Moran, drummer Nasheet Waits and a KC-area master who reached the world stage 40 years ago, guitarist Pat Metheny (playing with audible enthusiasm throughout the album). Richardson writes strong compositions that seem to get the best out of every soloist, and his horn rides the high waves kicked up by Waits with power and confidence.
The touring band he’s bringing to the Blue Room includes musicians whose names aren’t as recognizable as those on the album, but there’s no compromise in terms of the imagination and skills they bring.
At last report the band had guitarist Mike Moreno, one of the players other guitarists look to for inspiration; pianist Sam Harris and bassist Harish Raghavan, who recently rocked the Blue Room as part of trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire’s band; and drummer Tommy Crane, a St. Louisan who has been an associate of Richardson’s for well over a decade.
Richardson has been living in Paris and refining his style. If the playing and writing on “Shift” are any indication, he’s finding ways to say even more with fewer notes. That’s one of the best signs of real jazz maturity. And it sounds good on him.
The show is 7 p.m. Monday at the Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St. Tickets are $15, $10 for students. Check AmericanJazzMuseum.org.
▪ Another of those talented Kansas City kids who have gone on to shake things up wherever they go is singer/songwriter Krystle Warren. She could tear the place up as a standard jazz singer if she wanted to but prefers to tear it up with a more eclectic approach.
Hear what she and her band have been up to with jazz, soul, folk and even country. They perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Polsky Theatre in Carlsen Center at Johnson County Community College. Tickets are $25. Call 913-469-4445.
▪ The Blue Room also has the Kansas City Latin Jazz All-Stars at 7 p.m. Thursday; pianist Charles Williams and his Genre band at 8:30 p.m. Friday; and singer Ida McBeth 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; guitarist Matt Hopper’s trio at 5:30 p.m. Monday, followed by trumpeter Stan Kessler’s Force 5 at 9 p.m.; the band Sequel at 9 p.m. Tuesday; organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 6 p.m. Wednesday; Hopper’s trio again 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 Guitar Elation at 8:30 p.m. and organist Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 10 p.m.; and singer Molly Hammer at 3 p.m. Saturday, followed by OJT again from 6 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., with vibraphonist Peter Schlamb’s Electric Tinks downstairs at 9 p.m.
▪ The Art Factory, at 5621 W. 135th St., Suite 2630, in Overland Park’s Prairiefire development, has the band HoraceScope, playing the music of Horace Silver, at 8 p.m. Friday.
Joe Klopus, 816-234-4751