Fall Season Lookahead: Jazz

Critic’s Picks

A saxophonist who brings a vast imagination to jazz, Branford Marsalis broke through to the mainstream playing sideman to Sting and leading the “Tonight Show” band. His acoustic, post-bop quartet ranks among the music’s best. Don’t miss the Folly Jazz Series concert, An Evening with Branford Marsalis, Oct. 4 at the Folly Theater.

Vibraphonist Stefon Harris is hugely skilled at straight-ahead jazz, but he also has his ears open to the Zeitgeist. And that’s where Blackout comes in, with sounds influenced by rock and funk. If you’re into jazz fusion, Stefon Harris & Blackout is as good as it gets. The concert, part of the Folly Jazz Series, is Oct. 26 at the Folly Theater.

Pianist Gerald Clayton, whose dad is well-regarded bassist John Clayton, carries on the family tradition with music that’s rooted in post-bop values. And he’s made a name for himself on the keys. The Lied Center at the University of Kansas in Lawrence presents Gerald Clayton, piano Sept. 23 and 24.


Top Venues

Jazz recordings have their merits, but the music is arguably best appreciated in live performance. And atmosphere — influenced by the size and nature of the venue — plays a significant role in that experience. There’s no shortage of places to hear jazz in the Kansas City area, but the following venues are particularly worth seeking out.

Intimacy and enthusiasm go hand in hand at The Blue Room at the American Jazz Museum, a venue that has showcased national names as well as up-and-coming local artists. It’s a great place to settle back with a drink and let the music happen to you.

The Folly Theater, which recently received a $2.5 million renovation, is a jazz standby that has played host to some of the biggest names in the music, including drummer Max Roach, saxophonist Frank Morgan and pianist Ramsey Lewis. It’s a welcoming space with old-school warmth.

The grandeur of the Lied Center at the University of Kansas matches the talent of the artists it presents. Since opening in 1993, the 2,000-seat venue has welcomed top jazz musicians to its stage, including trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and singer Sara Gazarek.


Jazz Calendar

Karnell Robinson, Monday
Night Jam Session
Sept. 1, 7 p.m.
American Jazz Museum, Blue Room
www.americanjazzmuseum.org

Desmond Mason
Sept. 13, 5 p.m.
American Jazz Museum, Blue Room
www.americanjazzmuseum.org

Delynia Jannell
Sept. 20, 5 p.m.
American Jazz Museum, Blue Room
www.americanjazzmuseum.org

Gerald Clayton, piano
Sept. 23 and 24, 7:30 p.m.
Lied Center
www.lied.ku.edu

KC Latin Jazz Orchestra
Sept. 26, 7 p.m.
American Jazz Museum, Blue Room
www.americanjazzmuseum.org

Doug Talley Quartet featuring Julie Turner
Sept. 27, 8:30 p.m.
American Jazz Museum, Blue Room
www.americanjazzmuseum.org

An Evening with Branford Marsalis
Oct. 4, 8 p.m.
JazzTalk begins at 7 p.m.
Folly Theater
www.follytheater.org

KC Jazz Orchestra: Cotton Club Revisited
Oct. 11, 8 p.m.
Kauffman Center
www.kcjo.org

Stefon Harris & Blackout
Oct. 26, 8 p.m.
JazzTalk begins at 7 p.m.
Folly Theater
www.follytheater.org

Carlsen Center Presents: Pablo Ziegler Jazz Tango Trio
Oct. 26, 8 p.m.
Carlsen Center, Johnson County Community College
www.jccc.edu/CarlsenCenter

Carlsen Center Presents: Harlem 100 – Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance
Nov. 10, 7 p.m.
Carlsen Center, Johnson County Community College
www.jccc.edu/CarlsenCenter

Folly Frolic with the Hot Sardines
Nov. 16, 8 p.m.
Folly Theater
www.follytheater.org

Kansas City Jazz Orchestra All Star Holidays
Dec. 10, 7 p.m.
Kauffman Center
www.kcjo.org

Pedrito Martinez Group
Dec. 13, 8 p.m.
JazzTalk begins at 7 p.m.
Folly Theater
www.follytheater.org

About The Author: Calvin Wilson

Calvin Wilson

Calvin Wilson is an arts writer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He is also host and creator of the jazz program, “Somethin’ Else,” on 107.3 FM and 96.3 HD2 in St. Louis.

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