Arts & Culture | KCUR

Arts & Culture

KCUR’s Arts & Culture Desk covers arts news from music to visual art to dance and theater, with a focus on Kansas and Missouri.

Our reporters explore the behind-the-scene stories about newsmakers and emerging artists. We also take a look at the intersections of arts and technology, science and creativity, and present profiles of creative people. 

The Kansas City Ballet marks its 50th anniversary with a season full of choreography new to the company. This weekend's fall performance includes the Kansas City premiere of three works. It also provides an opportunity to examine the company's past and its future.

Kansas City, MO – October 11 - 14, Lyric Theatre

Kansas City Ballet's Fall Performance:

Mozartiana
Choreography: George Balanchine
Music: Peter Tchaikovsky

In almost six decades as a professional musician, Kansas City saxophonist Ahmad Alaadeen has performed with jazz greats like Billie Holiday and Miles Davis and Motown stars like Gladys Knight and Smokey Robinson. In his most recent album -- And the Beauty of It All -- Alaadeen is working with a group of musicians most of whom are less than half his age.

Kansas City, MO – KCUR's Lee Ingalls spoke with Ahmad Alaadeen about the new album and its somewhat deceptive subtitle: Ballads.

Note: This is an extended version. When more than 200 guests gathered in September for a party celebrating Richard Harriman's 75th birthday, conversation at the event focused as much on the performing arts series Harriman founded in 1965, now called the Harriman-Jewell Series.

Sony Classical

The pre-teen prodigy that wowed audiences in the late 90s is back with a new release that demonstrates his expanding concept of jazz piano.

Kansas City, MO – Eldar Djangirov wowed jazz audiences in Kansas City as pre-teen prodigy in the late 90s. Now 20, the Russian-born pianist is turning heads again with his third album.

Photo by Crackerfarm

The Russian-born jazz piano prodigy returns to his former home for a pair of concerts.

ASR Records

Up to Date host Steve Kraske welcomes KCUR morning news anchor and Up to Date jazz critic Lee Ingalls for their regular discussion of the latest jazz. This time around, jazz with Kansas City connections and Louis Armstrong, captured in concert at the 1958 Monterey Jazz Festival.

Kansas City, MO – New releases featured in this month's jazz update:

"Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival" - Louis Armstrong and The All-Stars (Monterey Jazz Fest)

"Step Lightly" - Charles Gatschet

The American Jazz Museum kicks off three days of events to mark its first decade.

The American Jazz Museum kicks off a three-day celebration of it 10th anniversary today. The museum first opened to public in 1997. Events include a symposium tonight on the history of the 18th and Vine historic district and series of performances by local and national acts. on Friday the museum holds its annual gala fundraiser at the Gem Theater.

The sold-out concert is headlined by singer Patti LaBelle and the Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band.

Soon after choreographer Mary Pat Henry moved to Kansas City to teach at UMKC's Conservatory, she suggested a friend move here too. Leni Wylliams was in his early 30s and already an accomplished veteran of the modern dance world. Together they founded a company to perform not only their own work, but pieces by some of the country's premier choreographers. Their collaboration was cut short in 1996, when Wylliams was brutally murdered.

Once again, the music of Charlie "Bird" Parker echoed through Lincoln Cemetery, in the wooded hills of Blue Summit, Missouri, just outside the Kansas City city limits.

Everlasting Universe

Aug 24, 2007
Laura Spencer/KCUR

The Civic Opera Theater of Kansas City presented two new works recently, including a world premiere called Everlasting Universe exploring the relationship between the early Romantic poets Byron and Shelley.

Kansas City, MO – The Civic Opera Theater of Kansas City presented two new works recently, including a world premiere called Everlasting Universe exploring the relationship between the early Romantic poets Byron and Shelley.

Kansas City jazz unit brings free improv to the Jazz and Beyond series weekend. Special guests include Jeffery Ruckma, Patrick Alonzo Conway and the All Souls Hand Bell Choir.

Up to Date host Steve Kraske welcomes KCUR morning news anchor and Up to Date jazz critic Lee Ingalls for their regular discussion of the latest jazz. This time around, new releases from the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, Kansas City's James Ward Band, Charles Mingus Septet with Eric Dolphy and Bruce Hornsby (with Christian McBride and Jack DeJohnette).

Kansas City, MO – New releases featured in this month's jazz update:

photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

Kansas City Snapshot is a project created by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects to celebrate the organization's 150th anniversary. As discussions continue about the future of the metropolitan area - from downtown Kansas City to Metcalf Avenue - organizers say this "yearlong experiment" could provide an opportunity to take a look at where we are now...and how we live, work and play.

Up to Date host Steve Kraske welcomes KCUR morning news anchor and Up to Date jazz critic Lee Ingalls for their regular discussion of the latest jazz. This segment features new music outstanding female jazz artists: Sarah Gazarek, Anat Cohen, Deborah Cox, and Hiromi.

Kansas City, MO – Note: this segment has been edited to comply with current music webcasting restrictions.

The new executive director of the American Jazz Museum settled in to his office last week. Greg Carroll is a percussionist and a longtime jazz educator who most recently served as director of education for the International Association for Jazz Education, one of world's premier jazz organizations.

Rhyme Records records Bengali and North Indian artists who perform around the world. When Pro Ghosh moved to Kansas City from upstate New York to work for Sprint, he brought the idea for creating an Indian music record label with him.

photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

African-American modern dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey died nearly 20 years ago. But, until recently, his personal collection of photographs, costume sketches, stage notes and letters had not viewed by the public.

KCUR's Alex Smith visited the home of Llewellyn Thompson, who's a member of a team called the Immigrant Smokers. They're competing in this week's Rhythm and Ribs Festival.

Versatile singer Ida McBeth has been serving up jazz, blues, soul and funk to Kansas City audiences for 30 years. Note: Ida McBeth kicks off MAAA's Live in the Crossroads series on June 1, 7 - 9 pm at 2018 Baltimore.

photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

One of the foremost authorities in Spanish dance is in Kansas City helping stage flamenco choreography for the Kansas City Ballet's world premiere of Carmen, choreographed by artistic director William Whitener.

Kansas City, MO – SPRING PERFORMANCE 2007
May 3-6, Lyric Theatre (11th & Central)

Thursday, May 3, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 4, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 5, 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 6, 2:00 p.m.

photo courtesy of the Unicorn Theatre

This weekend, the voice of a writer with deep Kansas roots, James Still, will be heard in two very different Kansas City theater venues.

Kansas City, MO – Olathe South High School, Secret History of the Future, April 26 - 28, 7:30 pm.

Unicorn Theatre presents Iron Kisses, April 27 - May 20 (previews April 25 and 26).

Yo La Tengo is an indie rock band, based in Hoboken, New Jersey. The group is famous for creating a lush mixture of pop music, punctuated by looping organs and bursts of feedback. Yo La Tengo performed this week in Lawrence.

St. Louis, MO – Over the last 20 years Yo La Tengo has released 12 studio albums; the latest is called I am not afraid of you?and I will beat your ass".

Alex Smith / KCUR

Jazz vocalist Kevin Mahogany spoke and sang at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy.

Kansas City native Nikki Skies was in town to perform at the Blue Room's monthly Jazz Poetry Jams in March. She plans to return to Kansas City in May; hopefully for another performance and a book signing for her latest book of short stories, Mississippi Window Cracks.

At last month's Mardi Gras, partiers marched all the way down 18th Street from YJ's Snack Bar in the Crossroads to the Mutual Musicians Foundation at 18th and Vine. These are spiritual centers of two of Kansas City's favorite arts districts, but there's not a whole lot connecting them.

KCUR's Chuck Haddix welcomed funk singer Marva Whitney to The Fish Fry, where she talked about her start in Kansas City Kansas and working with the late great James Brown.

Kansas City jazz musician Russ Long died of heart failure on New Years Eve, a few weeks after releasing a CD of original compositions covering more than 4 decades.

Jay "Hootie" McShann tells the story of how he first came to Kansas City, and put together his first band.

Kansas City, MO – Jay McShann said he discovered the blues as a young man, listening to the radio and records by Bessie Smith and James P. Johnson. He was a self-taught pianist - he just picked out the songs he heard on the family piano.

Legendary jazz and blues musician Jay "Hootie" McShann died Thursday, December 7 at the age of 90. A pianist, vocalist, composer and big band leader in the 1930s and 40s, McShann was one of the last of a generation who helped create the Kansas City style.

Photo courtesy of the Marr Sound Archives, UMKC

Saxophonist Ahmad Alaadeen grew up down the street from Jay McShann. Here, Alaadeen tells a story from his childhood about walking down the street, disobeying his mother to hear McShann play.

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