American Jazz Museum | KCUR

American Jazz Museum

How Kansas City Inspires Artist Sanford Biggers

Sep 26, 2018

Sanford Biggers is not a Kansas City native, but the city's history and culture has inspired a few of his multi-media works. As a part of Open Spaces, he has another installation coming up on October 5th. We'll hear about how he's getting ready for that performance, the ways he encourages viewers to take a second look at his art, and how he found a love of painting after a run-in with the law. 

Donna Moore seated in front of a microphone in the KCUR studio
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Grassroots organization looks to bring legislative reform to Missouri statehouse.

When states fail to promote a culture of transparency, some organizations believe it falls on voters to bring about the needed change to their government. We learned about the Clean Missouri Initiative, which will appear on the state's November ballots, and calls for open records, a reduction of partisan gerrymandering and the elimination of lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly.  

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Kansas City likes to boast that it’s internationally recognized for jazz. A concert at the Gem Theater on Thursday provides some evidence.

“Our musicians are everywhere in the world. We are pretty famous for our musicians,” says vocalist Deborah Brown, a Kansas City native and one of the instigators of Jazz Sister Cities, a partnership between musicians in Kansas City, Missouri, and Szczecin, Poland.

Kansas City already has civic relationships with 13 sister cities around the world, but this is the first purely musical relationship, unrelated to City Hall.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Acting to exert greater control over the financially strapped American Jazz Museum, the Kansas City Council's Finance and Audit Committee Wednesday approved two ordinances that would halt any new city money going to the museum, remove Third District councilpeople from the board and, eventually, clear the way for Mayor Sly James to name a new board of directors.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include developments at Thursday's City Council meeting.

This week marked the deadline for Kansas City's troubled American Jazz Museum to respond to the city's request to change its staff and board leadership in order to be eligible for city funds.

Clint Ashlock

Musicians have a lot at stake when it comes to the future of the American Jazz Museum.

"Please take the artist into consideration first, and foremost," bandleader and percussionist Pablo Sanhueza urged members of the Kansas City Council's finance and governance committee at an April 25 hearing to chart a course forward for the troubled museum.

Segment 1: How people in the Midwest cope when they have a fear of storms.

Spring in the Midwest means blooming flowers and warmer weather ... and also tornado siren tests and scary storms. What is it like for someone with a phobia of severe weather?

Meet a Leawood fifth grader who is one of five finalists in a nationwide contest for her invention, The Storm Sleeper. However, kids aren't the only ones afraid of storms; we hear about astraphobia and the adults who suffer from it.

CJ Janovy / KCUR 89.3

More than 50 people, including artists, musicians, former American Jazz Museum employees and volunteers packed a Kansas City Council committee meeting on Wednesday to voice their concerns or support for the troubled museum.

The council's finance and governance committee had a lot of ground to cover during the three-hour session.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Two Kansas City Council members on Thursday introduced very different resolutions in response to a consultant's report suggesting drastic measures to address financial and other problems at the American Jazz Museum. 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A day after a consultants' report suggested that the American Jazz Museum is "in need of complete rethinking, akin to starting a new museum" and suggested a temporary closure, the museum's board of directors met at the Gem Theater to parse the critical assessment of the museum's finances, leadership and exhibits.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Consultants hired by the city of Kansas City, Missouri, to assess the wellbeing of the American Jazz Museum on Monday recommended closing the museum temporarily.

The museum, according to the consultants' report, is "in need of complete rethinking, akin to starting a new museum." The report called for a "complete rebirth, starting with its leadership, but continuing with a revamped financial model, visitor experience, and operational infrastructure."

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Update: The Kansas City Council approved this proposal on Thursday, October 26.

The Kansas City Council’s finance and governance committee on Wednesday approved a proposal for the city manager to take a closer look at the assets and management of the American Jazz Museum. The ordinance also requests a $250,000 boost for the museum, which faces an estimated $1 million shortfall. 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Council member Jermaine Reed introduced a proposal on Thursday to turn oversight of the American Jazz Museum over to the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department, including assets managed by American Jazz Museum, Inc., such as the Blue Room and the Gem Theater.

Council members Quinton Lucas and Scott Wagner co-sponsored the ordinance. It now goes to the Council’s finance and governance committee. 

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

It's been a year since the Kansas City Council approved $7 million in funding for projects in the 18th and Vine district, such as stabilizing historic buildings and adding new streetscaping. On Wednesday, city officials provided a progress report. 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The American Jazz Museum still has about $150,000 in outstanding vendor bills. That’s despite catching up on payments to the musicians who played at the Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival over Memorial Day weekend.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Financial woes at the American Jazz Museum aren't sitting well with city and state officials. 

"I'm concerned, like a lot of other people, about what's going on," says Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. "I don't think we ought to ignore this, ignore the problems, or dismiss them lightly."

Courtesy Blair Bryant

Blair Bryant is a young contemporary jazz bassist who says he's mastered more than 14 instruments.

CJ Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Update: This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. to include a city funding update. 

After experiencing "a cash flow issue" following the inaugural Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival over Memorial Day weekend, officials with the American Jazz Museum say all performers have been paid — after some musicians complained on social media earlier this week.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City's inaugural Jazz and Heritage Festival accomplished something rarely seen in town: A genuinely diverse crowd of people enjoying themselves.

For three days over the Memorial Day weekend, that audience was perhaps most diverse in its musical tastes.

Courtesy Oleta Adams

A popular lounge singer in Kansas City in the 1980s, Oleta Adams had a massive pop hit in 1991 with the heartfelt ballad “Get Here.” She's back in town on Sunday for a main-stage performance at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Robert Drózd / Wikimedia Commons

John Scofield continues to make strides in the music world. His latest album, Country For Old Men, won the 2016 Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. Today, the renowned guitarist recalls playing with the likes of Miles Davis and Charles Mingus.

Courtesy Lalah Hathaway

Six weeks after stumbling over the roll-out of a major new jazz festival scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, leaders of the American Jazz Museum made the announcement again Thursday, this time joined by Kansas City Mayor Sly James and City Councilman Jermaine Reed.

Courtesy Everette DeVan

Hammond B3 organist Everette DeVan is a beloved dean of Kansas City’s jazz scene.

Though the popularity of DeVan’s good-time, organ-based jazz peaked about 50 years ago, the throwback style gets revived several times a week at the Green Lady Lounge. Organist Chris Hazelton and guitarist Matt Hopper are among the younger Kansas City musicians DeVan has mentored.

Courtesy Trombone Shorty

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect developments since its publication Wednesday afternoon.

Kansas City has another chance to get the concept of a jazz festival right — though its rollout suggested organizers were not yet ready for the national stage.

City of Kansas City Missouri

Kansas City officials kicked off the redevelopment of Kansas City’s historic 18th and Vine Jazz district on Monday with the demolition of the old Black Chamber of Commerce Building at the corner of 18th and Paseo.

The building was vacant and not historic. 

The demolition marks 150 days since the Kansas City Council approved $7 million for the first phase of re-development, which includes renovating historic buildings and building a new streetscape and street lighting to better connect the jazz district to the Crossroads district.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Jazz is all about creativity and freedom, but casual listeners can sometimes find deciphering it a chore. Today, we learn How to Listen to Jazz. Then, they say everything's up to date in Kansas City, but are we a "world class" locale? Finally, a winded Brian McTavish presents his Weekend To-Do List.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

When the American Jazz Museum unveils a new mural during First Friday festivities on November 4, it won't just reflect the 18th and Vine District's lively and colorful jazz history. It's also a statement about today, its lead painter says.

"This project is an effort to show the community how important it is to work together," says lead artist Michael Toombs, the founder and director of Storyteller's Inc.

Courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

In a new unique three-venue exhibition, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art brings photography of the late, Cuban-born Jesse A. Fernández to Kansas City. The curator of the exhibition joins us to talk about the work and the life of the artist.

Guest:

Recently, Google Maps started showing "areas of interest" in an orange color on the app. KC's areas of interested included the Plaza and Crown Center. Not included: 18th and Vine or the ruins of Quindaro in KCK.

We explore the ways that computer algorithms could reflect someone's prejudice or assumptions — or perhaps just reinforce our own.

Guests:

Charlie Parker was born on Aug. 29, 1920. For three years now, Kansas City jazz organizations have marked his birthday week with a Charlie Parker Celebration, trying to increase hometown appreciation for the influential jazz saxophonist.

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