News Column

KC's major jazz concert series name their stars

July 3, 2013


July 03--The results are in, the contracts are signed, and we're ready. The lineups for our city's two major jazz concert series are in, and there's bound to be something that interests even the most jaded soul.

We'll start with the roster for the Folly Theater's jazz series:

-- Gretchen Parlato Quartet, Oct. 5: She's one of the most acclaimed singers to emerge in recent years. In a previous Folly appearance in a supporting role, she was impressive -- but this one is bound to be better, because this time it's her music, her way.

-- Kenny Barron Trio, Nov. 22: The piano master is at the very center of the New York scene, as performer and composer, as a recording artist who's supported just about everyone, as a teacher and mentor. He's one of the most solid and sure-footed players anywhere, and the depth of his knowledge and experience come through every time.

-- Jonathan Batiste and Stay Human, Jan. 17, 2014: This pianist is heir to another New Orleans musical dynasty. His band name signals his intention to stay connected to the tradition yet do things a little differently.

-- Tierney Sutton Band, March 7: While other singers might have more name recognition, Sutton has stuck to the business of being simply one of the best there is for a couple of decades now. Her equally reliable band plays a big role in the ongoing excellence.

-- Brad Mehldau Trio, April 19: The pianist has become one of the most discussed artists of the last 20 years. Sometimes he collaborates with the likes of Pat Metheny or Joshua Redman, or even opera singers -- but his main focus continues to be the trio format, and some people think he's the best thing to happen to the trio in decades.

-- John Scofield Organic Trio, May 10: The superguitarist, one of the world's finest, is back. Jazz guitarists have long tested themselves in groups with organists, and this time Scofield is in a lean, mean trio with organist Larry Goldings and drummer Gregory Hutchinson.

Single tickets for the Folly series go on sale Aug. 23.

And, at the Gem

And don't forget the Gem Theater's Jammin' at the Gem series, which booking guy Gerald Dunn says is primarily a season of tributes this year:

-- Poncho Sanchez, Sept. 6, 2014: Watch out for dancers in the aisles. The conguero, one of the top names in Latin jazz, and his band make a return appearance.

-- Najee, Feb. 15: Jazz "purists" like to make fun of people like this successful saxophonist, usually saying something like "he can't play." Funny, you don't hear them saying that about this guy.

-- Newport Jazz Festival 60th Anniversary, March 22: The long-running festival celebrates itself by sending an all-star package on the road. This one reportedly has clarinetist Anat Cohen, trumpeter Randy Brecker, guitarist Mark Whitfield -- and, most significantly for her fans in these parts, singer Karrin Allyson.

-- Lifetime Achievement Concert, April 19: Nathan Davis, the former Kansas Citian who found success first in Europe and later in academia, fronts a band of fellow masters. Also on the list are trombone giant Curtis Fuller, pianist George Cables, bassist Abraham Laboriel and drummer Winard Harper.

-- Jazz at Massey Hall tribute, May 17: Pianist Bill Charlap has put together a quintet to celebrate the music played by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus and Max Roach at the great 1953 concert.

Give the Gem a call, 816-474-6262 or buy online at


--Join the People's Liberation Big Band, directed by Brad Cox, as the band celebrates the fifth anniversary of a longstanding gig on Jeff Harshbarger's alternative jazz series at RecordBar. Cox promises a review of the band's new work over the last year, plus some older favorites. Singer Shay Estes is on board. It's at 8 p.m. Sunday at 1020 Westport Road.

--Singer Jackie Allen, a distinctive artist who deserves to be better known, comes back to town for a show at the Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

--The Blue Room has two out-of-town guests this weekend. Pat Kelley, a Los Angeles guitarist who's originally from Oklahoma (the land of Charlie Christian and Barney Kessel, where they do guitar right), sits in with organist Everette DeVan's group at 8:30 p.m. Friday. Trumpeter Darryl White, a jazz thinker who's also a trumpet guru at the University of Nebraska, leads a quartet at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Sax man James Isaac's quartet appears at 7 p.m. Thursday. The Jazz Disciples are in charge of the Monday jam at 7 p.m.

--Take Five Coffee + Bar, 5336 W. 151st St. in Leawood, has the Sons of Brasil at 8 p.m. Friday and bassist Jeff Harshbarger's quartet at 8 p.m. Saturday; that quartet features New York trumpeter Erik Jekabson alongside tenor saxophonist Matt Otto and drummer Brian Steever.

To reach Joe Klopus, call 816-234-4751 or send email to


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