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jazz

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Most people agree access to pre-K needs to be expanded. Not everyone agrees on how to pay for and oversee it.

Days after Kansas City Mayor Sly James made public the particulars of his plan to fund expanded early childhood education, opposition to the proposal is piping up. Today, we heard educators and community organizers explain why they think the mayor's scheme to get more 4-year-olds into pre-K needs work.

University of Kansas

Brandon Draper will not be getting a summer vacation this year.

Draper is a percussion and music business instructor at the University of Kansas, and this month, for starters, he's touring Italy and France with KU's top jazz ensemble.

Kansas Secretary of State in the hallway of KCUR.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach looks to step up to governor.

As one of two Republican frontrunners in the Kansas gubernatorial election, Kris Kobach brings his reputation for controversy with him. Case in point, last month his campaign made national headlines for using a faux machine gun during a parade appearance in a Shawnee, Kansas. Today, he outlined his plans for higher office, and compared his style of leadership and that of President Donald Trump.

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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.

Wikimedia Commons

People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City doesn’t intend to inspire a revolution with their upcoming performance. They’re not even aiming for civil unrest.

No, the band’s leader, Brad Cox (piano and accordion) says they just wanted to compose a new score for a really beautiful old film, “Battleship Potemkin,” but in the band’s own style, what Cox describes as “modern freaky jazz.”

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.

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.

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Though it's firmly rooted in jazz, The Project H also appeals to fans of rock and R&B.

At the end of March, a flurry of sales briefly placed their new record, "Everyday, Forever" in the top ten of iTunes' jazz album chart; they celebrate its official release on Wednesday.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

At Union Station Tuesday morning, city and community leaders unveiled the official logo for Kansas City's "Creative City of Music" designation from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Designed by Hallmark artist John Wagner, the logo features a trombone, with the letters 'KC' formed out of a drum and drumsticks. The image was inspired by James Weldon Johnson's poetry book 'God's Trombones,' which he wrote after being moved by a church sermon during a 1918 visit to Kansas City.

LeAnn Mueller / Wikimedia Commons

Segment 1: High-energy ensemble re-imagines jazz music for a younger generation.

The combination of french fries and Champagne, casual and sophisticated, is an accurate representation of The Hot Sardines' lively music. (It's also the title of their latest album.) Today, we talked with members of the group about their younger audiences, their resident tap dancer and how they fill old tunes with new energy.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR_89.3

Segment 1: Kansas' Third-Biggest School District Picks A New Leader

After a months-long hiring process, the Shawnee Mission School District Board of Education has decided on a new superintendent. We heard about the move, and about the future of one of the largest districts in Kansas and the metro.

Courtesy Stan Kessler

Anyone who's stepped inside a Kansas City jazz club during the past several decades has probably run into Stan Kessler, the impish trumpeter known for amusing pranks and soulful solos.

Kessler has played music in Kansas City for 40 years, serving as the jazz scene's crafty institutional memory and passionate conscience. He's seen a lot of ups and downs, but his new album, "Skywatcher," makes a career-defining statement, showcasing his formidable talent at the same time as it demonstrates the vitality of the regional scene.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Your might think combining jazz and a symphony would like trying to mix oil and water — they don't just go together. Yet jazz artists, including Kansas City's own Charlie Parker, have combined their playing with those of an orchestra to great results.

CBS Television / Paramount Pictures

You'd be forgiven for thinking a jazz club with a throwback feel would end up being a flop. You'd also be wrong. Today, we meet a local entrepreneur whose pair of nightclubs is helping the Kansas City jazz scene live on. Then, we listen to some of your favorite TV theme songs from the 1950s to today, and try to discover why the best of them stick so easily in your head. Sorry in advance for the earworms!

On our First Friday arts show: a local artist has been keeping a dream journal for over 40 years. In his new exhibit, he's brought recurring objects from his dreams to life through sculpture. Then, we talk to the star of a one-woman show about fashion icon Diana Vreeland, and a band conductor on how his group keeps the Kansas City sound alive ... and how they're taking a step to address the gender imbalance in jazz.

Guests:

Shawn CMH / Wikimedia Commons

At the turn of the 20th century, two sisters who were determined to provide medical care to Kansas City's underserved kids founded what became a local institution. Today, we learn about the women behind Children's Mercy Hospital. Then, jazz vocalist Deborah Brown reflects on her Kansas City roots and a music career that's led her around the world.

Courtesy Lonnie McFadden

A consummate entertainer, Lonnie McFadden is a Kansas City institution.

He's best known as the trumpet-playing half of the tap-dancing McFadden Brothers, in which Lonnie and his brother, Ronnie McFadden, entertain Las Vegas-style in the vein of Sammy Davis Jr. and Louis Prima.

Roberto Cabello / Flickr - CC

When jazz legend Branford Marsalis calls you "the greatest American musician that no one's ever heard of," you're doing something right (even if your P.R. may need a little work). Today, we meet that musician, Marcus Roberts, and learn about his remarkable life.

Courtesy BurnettMusic.com

Christopher Burnett is a prominent Kansas City saxophonist, band leader, instructor and raconteur. He also operates Artists Recording Collective, a record label that has released dozens of albums by jazz musicians from around the world.

Aleksey Kaznadey / kevinmahogany.com

Kevin Mahogany, the versatile and velvet-voiced vocalist who became one of the Kansas City jazz scene's more well-known exports, died Sunday. He was 59.

Mahogany had been living in Miami, but moved back to Kansas City in August after the sudden death of his wife, Allene Matthews Mahogany, over the summer, says Mahogany's sister, Carmen Julious.

The two had been married for 25 years, and Julious says Mahogany's grief had aggravated longer-term health issues.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

As always during this season, Kansas City musicians are booked for holiday gatherings.

"Christmas is the busiest time of year. We all have a million gigs," says Johnny Hamil, an area bass player and teacher (among his efforts to promote his instrument, Hamil lures esteemed bass players from around the world to town for his annual Kansas City Bass Workshop).

Courtesy Kansas City Jazz Orchestra

The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra is the region’s most prominent big band, dedicated to preserving and advancing the tradition of iconic Kansas City jazz ensembles led by William “Count” Basie, Andy Kirk and Bennie Moten. Guest vocalist Marilyn Maye, after all, performed at the band's debut concert in 2003.

ataelw / Flickr - CC

In August, Kansas City voters made any future streetcar expansions a little more complicated. Nevertheless, the Streetcar AuthorityKCATA and Port KC are convinced they can come up with $32 million to extend service from River Market to Berkley Riverfront Park.

The McFadden brothers are musicians, singers and tap dancers. They learned how to tap from their father, the legendary Smilin' Jimmy McFadden, and they've just received a 2017 Living Legends awards from the Tapology Music Institute, a national organization. Hear their story, which starts at 29th and Euclid.

Guests:

He's a jazz trombonist with an 18-piece big band, and he also tours with Janelle Monae. Meet Marcus Lewis, who has collaborated with two local rappers to put a new spin on their songs.

Plus: A new arts residency program on Troost, and we catch up with Sike Style, the man behind the colorful murals around town.

Guests:

Courtesy The Sextet

The Sextet is a jazz group led by bassist Robert Castillo, with saxophonist Max Levy, trumpeter Teddy Krulewich, trombonist Trevor Turla, guitarist Peter Marten and drummer Fritz Hutchison. Their penchant for soulful grooves and elements of funk will appeal to fans of like-minded Kansas City jazz groups like the Project H and Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Kansas-based singer Vanessa Thomas, who tours the country sharing a bill with Grammy Award-winning tumpeter Doc Severinson, doesn't know why she's wearing a cast in her baby pictures.

"It was a foot cast that went all the way up above my knee," she says.

The rest is lost in what she calls a no-man's land of forgotten memories. A story she knows is hers, but almost can't believe is true, except that paper files full of documentation insist that it is.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Humans tend to take time and space as a given. We are assured that in 60 seconds, a minute will have passed; after 59 more it will have been an hour. We assume our living spaces will not suddenly develop new real estate behind the closet wall. We generally understand objects' physicality and can discern area through depth perception and touch. Most of us (author not included) are aware enough of the actual reach of our limbs so as not to knock fragile objects to floors.

KCUR's Band Of The Week: Molly Hammer

Sep 20, 2017
Kevin Morgan

Molly Hammer is a prominent Kansas City actress and vocalist whose debut album, "Out of This World," was released on September 15. Produced and arranged by pianist Joe Cartwright, the 11-song album also features saxophonist Brad Gregory, bassist Steve Rigazzi, drummer Todd Strait and backing vocalists Molly Denninghoff and Jessalyn Kincaid.

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