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jazz

A tribute to the Kansas City tax attorney who spent 40 years hosting a music show devoted to rock and roll.

Bill Shapiro recently died at the age of 82. To remember him, we rebroadcasted his final episode of Cyprus Avenue, the "smart" rock and roll show he hosted on KCUR on Saturday nights. His abridged final broadcast includes snippets of some of his favorite tunes and reflections on his personal relationship with music.

Segment 1: Will new leadership mean a new chapter for the American Jazz Museum?

The American Jazz Museum just welcomed a new executive director, and she's already in the thick of it. She discussed the current state of the struggling museum and where she sees it going under her direction.

KCUR 89.3

Bill Shapiro, a Kansas City tax attorney by day who spent more than four decades hosting a Saturday-night radio program devoted to rock-and-roll, died on Tuesday. He was 82.

"The name of the program is Cyprus Avenue, and I’m Bill Shapiro," he said each week in a deep, gravelly voice over the show's opening music, which was not Van Morrison's "Cyprus Avenue" but rather Matthew Fisher's "Interlude."

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Holiday traditions sometimes start in unlikely ways.

Case in point: Gerald Dunn and Kansas City's Musicians Appreciation Day, which these days offers live music for the public and free health screenings and fresh produce for musicians of all genres.

It started years ago as a chance encounter between Dunn, director of entertainment at the American Jazz Museum and Blue Room general manager, and tenor saxophonist Eddie Saunders, who died in 2012.

Segment 1: Annual Kansas City event encourages musicians to eat better and focus on their health.

Segment 1: Reporters unravel the dysfunction that plagues government in one Missouri county.

Clay County, Missouri, residents want answers as to how their commissioners are making decisions. The county is currently embroiled in legal wrangling with the state auditor and the county sheriff, and citizens are complaining their voices are not being heard. Journalists covering the situation say they've "never seen a series of actions quite like this."

Silvia Ines Gonzalez

Rashida Phillips, a St. Louis native who has worked with a range of cultural organizations, has been named the new executive director of the American Jazz Museum. She is also a jazz singer.

In a letter, the museum's board of directors said that "after a thorough and thoughtful" national search process, Phillips "rose to the top" of the field of more than 25 candidates. 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Saxophonist Bobby Watson has loved teaching at the University of Missouri-Kansas City conservatory, but he is ready to concentrate on the touring and recording that have made him an international jazz legend.

“It’s been a great 20-year chapter,” Watson says of his two decades as the first endowed jazz studies professor at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. “I think life is divided like chapters, so I’m ready to fly again.”

Segment 1: What the junior senator from Missouri can gain from the issues he chooses to tackle.

Freshman Sen. Josh Hawley has been vociferous in his opposition to Facebook's influence, has ripped Democrats for their impeachment inquiry and, after visiting the Hong Kong protests, suggested in a tweet the city's chief executive should resign. Hear analysis of Hawley's political moves and how much they matter to Missouri voters.

Jen Harris

Kansas City poet Jen Harris has 2,200 followers on Facebook, and she's open with them about her sexuality and her relationships. So they didn't hesitate to let her know when they saw her fiancée with someone else.

"People were messaging me on Facebook saying, 'Do you know your partner is at this bar with this person? Look.' It was pretty brutal," Harris says.

thesextetjazz.com

"Music is always evolving," says Robert Castillo, a Kansas City jazz-band leader who is broadening his city's signature sound.

It's not as if he doesn't know the rules. As a bass player, he's in demand all around town as a sideman in other people's bands, proving that he knows how to play by jazz's strictest conventions. Yet as the leader of his own band, The Sextet, Castillo is dedicated to expanding the art form's possibilities.

Peep Game Productions

To underline that music really is the universal language, a classically trained violinist from Kansas City, Kansas, has blended musical languages on her first solo recording.

Musician Katina Bilberry, known on stage as K’Tina (pronounced Kay Tina), had an epiphany on a visit to Kenya during her time as an undergraduate at William Jewell College.

Segment 1: The Kansas City Public School Board prepares for a new school year

Both new and returning school board members are preparing for the start of the school year next week. They talked about the timeline for accreditation, the inefficiency of charter schools and how the Jackson County reassessment issues are making an impact on the district. 

Segment 1: Normally obscure ballots in Kansas county drawing greater attention

Without a high-profile race for governor or Congress, the Johnson County, Kansas, primary elections are usually on the sleepy side. Not so this time around as controversies have made even the community college's open seats on its Board of Trustee highly-contested.

At 74 years old, Kansas City pianist Jay McShann was still performing the joyous music that had entertained audiences around the world for decades.

One of those concerts was in Tokyo, Japan, in 1990, where a woman named Yoko Takemura was in the audience.

“People should know Jay McShann much more,” says Takemura, a devotee of Kansas City jazz.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Ragtime is big with the kids in Sedalia.

One day this spring, about 100 of them cheered for William McNally, a two-time winner of the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest. His performance at Sacred Heart School quickly won them over with the lively music that was all the rage 120 years ago.

“It’s kind of like making you want more," said Thomas Jenkins, 11, who had been taking piano lessons for about a year.

Segment 1: Supreme Court decision involving Wayfair.com has lawmakers looking at making online retailers collect state sales tax.

With the state revenue in Missouri short by about $300 million, legislators are considering making online retailers, not residents, calculate, collect and remit the sales tax for purchases made on their websites. Brick-and-mortar businesses in the Show-Me State could benefit from the move as well by having a more level playing field on which to compete.

Parlophone Records Ltd

When opera singer Joyce DiDonato decided to try her hand at singing jazz, the idea wasn't as much of a stretch as it might seem. She says the two genres have one key thing in common: improvisation. 

"The expectation (in Italian Baroque music) is that the singer and the orchestra would come and improvise the harmonies and the vocal style," DiDonato told Kansas Public Radio's Michael Keelan. "So in that element, it's exactly what happens in the world of jazz, it's just the chord structure is a little different."

Segment 1: Kevin Willmott delivers his acceptance speech. 

Kevin Willmott won an Oscar for BlacKkKlansman in the category of Best Adapted Screenplay. But he did not give an acceptance speech at the awards ceremony. We've remedied that.

Segment 2, beginning at 10:14: Jazz trumpeter Hermon Mehari comes home.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: The only mayoral candidate from the Northland thinks he brings "a unique perspective in getting us moving forward."

Scott Wagner is in his last months as a city council member. Now his sights are set on occupying the mayor's office. Wagner spoke of his plan to fund affordable housing, explained what he sees as a barrier to reducing violent crime, and observed that, "at the end of the day, I'm still that neighborhood guy, and that position and that perspective needs to be reflected in City Hall."

Segment 1: How black cultural institutions can serve as a place for community healing.

It's no secret that Kansas City still bears scars of redlining and segregation, but it's not exactly something you bring up at a party either. So how do we have these important discussions to help our community move forward? A local poet has ideas.

Daniel Hogans

Kansas City pianist Eddie Moore describes his music like this: "rolling down a hill on a bike with no brakes. You just have to weave through everything that gets in your way or jump over it."

Originally from Houston, he thought he might need to move to a coastal city to make a life in music work. But that changed after he auditioned at the University of Missouri Conservatory of Music and Dance for a graduate degree in music. 

Seg. 1: What Is Populism? Seg. 2: Eddie Moore

Feb 19, 2019

Segment 1: The word 'populism' is being used more and more in national headlines. So what does it mean?

Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Donald Trump are all running for president in 2020. While these candidates may not have much in common, media outlets use one word to describe all of them again and again: populist. In this conversation, we look at what defines populism, and what that word means for politics in both America and abroad.

UMKC Conservatory

American composer Harry Partch lived an unconventional life. A dreamer and a traveler, he devised an original system for making music and built dozens of instruments to bring that dream to reality.

“My music and my instruments are an expression of an ancient tradition in which sight and sound unite toward the achievement of a single dramatic purpose,” Partch said in the documentary “Music Studio.”

Michael Rubenstein / damiensneed.com

Segment 1: Kansas City mayoral candidates face future voters in student-hosted debate. 

Last December students at Kansas City East High School asked mayoral hopefuls about issues concerning violence, policing, and economic development in their communities. Now that the race is in full swing, we revisited our conversation with three of the student organizers of that debate to hear how they spent a semester organizing the event and their impressions of the candidates.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

After more than two years of litigation, a leadership fight over a Kansas City jazz landmark wrapped up Wednesday morning with nearly two hours of closing arguments.

But the verdict on who will lead the Mutual Musicians Foundation is not out yet. Circuit Court Judge Charles McKenzie said Wednesday he was taking the case under advisement. 

Justin Wilson

Justin Wilson is engaged in a consequential fight against irrelevance.

As the owner and operator of Sound 81 Productions, a recording studio in Riverside, Missouri, his life's work is imperiled by a pair of existential threats.

Wikimedia Commons

Segment 1: Missouri has had three governors in the last three years. Soon, a new class of state lawmakers will take their seats in the Statehouse.

Missouri lawmakers will next week begin revisiting proposals on more than a few issues previous legislatures were unable to resolve. A gas tax that would have financed road and bridge projects was rejected by voters in November, leaving state lawmakers wondering how else to find the funding. Other issues like Clean Missouri and a prescription drug-monitoring program are likely to be taken up. 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Initiative to improve neighborhoods east of Troost Avenue calls for $13 million but fails to identify a source for the needed funds.

Ambitious in its scope, an ordinance approved by the Kansas City Council looks to remediate blight, help with home improvement and economic development, and combat gentrification in the eastern parts of the city. We heard what implementing the plan could mean for residents, and where the money could be found to make it happen.

A white haired man with a scarf on stands in front of a microphone. A black man in a yellow shirt stands behind him with a guitar.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Kansas City mayoral candidates attended a debate to address the concerns of future voters.

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