Ask anybody what Kansas City is known for, and most will answer, “Jazz and barbecue!” You’ve probably had a lot of barbecue, but how often do you go listen to live jazz in Kansas City? Well, the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra’s upcoming season is the perfect opportunity to get a taste!
As we embark on our 17th season, we are geared up for another slate of great concerts at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The season, “Study in Jazz: A Retrospective,” is chock-full of exciting music, engaging themes, and some monumental guest artists, unlike anything we’ve put forth until now.
The Retrospective begins by paying homage to one of the great eras in American History: The Harlem Renaissance. With art and literature, this social explosion of African American culture spanned the 1920s, and is represented here through diving into the genre-altering music coming out of the infamous Cotton Club. We will be telling the story through great Black American Music by Duke Ellington, Lena Horne, Cab Calloway and others, with our fantastic band and vocalist Eboni Fondren. Also joining us will be a true jazz legend. We are so excited to present Benny Golson: a tenor titan if there ever was one. An alum of Lionel Hampton and Dizzy Gillespie, founder of the Jazztet, and one of the most important jazz composers of all time, Mr. Golson will join us for a number of his classic hits, on October 11th.
On December 10th, we are going to swing the holiday classics, Kansas City style. The infectious grooves and toe-tapping big band sounds are sure to warm up a chilly December night. Please prepare to take off your scarves as we cook it out at Helzberg. Joining us will be a few of KC’s local superstars – you won’t want to miss it!
The excitement doesn’t let up in March, either. Some of the greatest, most loved jazz of all time emerged south of the border, and we’re taking you on a cruise from Cuba to Brazil, exploring the Afro-Caribbean mambos of Dizzy Gillespie, Poncho Sanchez, and Tito Puente, and then to the beautiful, serene beaches of Rio, to dive into the sensual bossas of Gilberto and Jobim. Joining us on March 7th will be special guests Stan Kessler and Adam Larson.
Finally, what would the world be without the sounds of gospel, and heart-soaring soul music of the 60s and 70s? A duller place, for sure! Well, on May 1st, prepare to be uplifted – for the first time, we are bringing a gospel choir to shout it out along with the big band. Aretha, Ray, Mahalia, and others will be represented, and you’ll never hear the Kauffman rock like this! Plus, if that weren’t enough, we will be joined by arguably the best trumpeter alive, the great Sean Jones. Sean is EVERYWHERE right now, and is a true leader of jazz and jazz education in the 21st century.
So, come and join us. What we’re doing this season is unlike anything else happening in your city – in OUR city, Kansas City. Tickets available on www.kcjo.org. We can’t wait to bring you this great music!
–Clint Ashlock, KCJO Artistic Director