Jazz Town: American Jazz Walk of Fame to honor six on Saturday
The American Jazz Walk of Fame in the 18th and Vine district became a reality last year, with six bronze medallions that honor musical giants appearing in front of the American Jazz Museum. And the organizers promised to keep the effort going and the Walk of Fame growing.
They’ve stayed true to their word. The developing attraction gets six more medallions next weekend in an unveiling set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The ceremony is followed by a concert featuring singer Kevin Mahogany and guitarist Norman Brown. This year’s well-chosen honorees are:
▪ Bennie Moten, the most famous Kansas City bandleader before Count Basie (who in his younger years said his ambition was to become a Moten sideman).
▪ Claude “Fiddler” Williams, a wonder of swing and a fountain of musical youth and invention into his 90s.
▪ Coleman Hawkins, the man who placed the tenor saxophone in the very center of jazz, and one of the first standard-setters for saxophonists in general.
▪ Myra Taylor, Kansas City singer and songwriter who entertained from the era of FDR to the time of Obama.
▪ Lester Young, tenor saxophonist whose rhythmic and harmonic fearlessness helped open the way for modern jazz.
▪ Everette DeVan, reigning king of the Hammond B-3 organ in Kansas City, and mentor to musicians all over town.
The unveiling is followed by a 7 p.m. concert featuring Mahogany and Brown, two brilliant artists who learned their stuff in Kansas City. It’s in the Gem Theater, 1615 E. 18th St. Tickets are $30. They’re available at the Gem box office, 816-474-6262, or at Ticketmaster.com.
(For the record, last year’s honorees were Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Mary Lou Williams, Jay McShann, Pat Metheny and Bobby Watson.)
Grab the calendar. The area’s two biggest jazz concert series have unveiled what they’ll be presenting over the next year.
Folly Theater’s jazz series:
▪ Sept. 18: Alto saxophonist Bobby Watson’s quartet, with his longtime musical partner bassist Curtis Lundy.
▪ Nov. 21: Guitarist Julian Lage’s trio.
▪ Dec. 18: Pianist and composer David Benoit, in a themed show they’s calling “A Christmas tribute to Charlie Brown,” featuring singer Jane Monheit.
▪ March 11, 2016: The Folly Spotlight show, featuring a deserving artist who’s relatively unknown, this year presents singer Alicia Olatuja, who made a splash singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” at the 2013 presidential inauguration.
▪ April 9: Bassist Christian McBride returns, this time with a trio.
▪ May 21: Singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, with trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra.
Single tickets for the Folly series go on sale Aug. 17.
Jammin’ at the Gem (Theater):
▪ Dec. 12: Bass phenom Julian Vaughn.
▪ Feb. 13, 2016: “Urban adult contemporary” saxophonist Kim Waters.
▪ March 26: Singer Patti Austin.
▪ April 16: The Bad Plus with tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman.
▪ May 21: A showcase for two hometown originals, the singing, dancing, horn-playing McFadden Brothers and singer Ida McBeth.
For tickets, call 816-474-6262 or check Ticketmaster.com.
There’s also the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra’s season at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts:
▪ Oct. 2: “A Night at the Cotton Club,” sounds of the ’20s and ’30s.
▪ Dec. 8: “A Swinging Kansas City Christmas,” with singer Ann Hampton Callaway.
Feb. 26, 2016: “British Invasion,” songs from World War II to the ’60s.
April 29: “From New Orleans to Chicago,” exploring the early evolution of jazz.
Single tickets for the KCJO go on sale Aug. 1. Call 816-994-7222 or visit KauffmanCenter.org.
▪ Highlights at the Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., include the Foundation 627 Big Band at 8:30 p.m. Sunday; B Vibe at 9 p.m. Monday; Dojo at 8 p.m. Tuesday; organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 9 p.m. Wednesday; organist Chris Hazelton’s trio at 9 p.m. Thursday; bassist Dominique Sanders’ trio at 8:30 p.m. Friday, followed by Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 at 10 p.m.; and singer Molly Hammer at 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by OJT at 9:30 p.m.
▪ Tenor saxophonist James Isaac’s group is featured on the next show in the Jazz Underground series, at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Westport CoffeeHouse Theatre, 4010 Pennsylvania Ave.
▪ The Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., has drummer Tyree Johnson and his Group 101 in charge of the Monday jam at 7 p.m. The Band Oasis appears at 7 p.m. Thursday and singer Lee Langston is on at 8:30 p.m. Friday. St. Louis drummer Montez Coleman brings his quartet across Interstate 70 for a show at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
▪ Take Five Coffee + Bar, 6601 W. 135th St., Suite A-21, Overland Park, behind the Von Maur store, has organist Everette DeVan’s group at 8 p.m. Friday and bassist Bill McKemy’s group at 8 p.m. Saturday.