(from the artist)
The young Kansas City vibraphonist, a 2023 Riff Generation Resident Artist with the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, has been hailed as “a rising star”
In a March 2022 interview on the jazz website bluestemjazz.org, internationally renowned vibraphone instructor, festival headliner and composer, Ted Piltzecker, singled out two up-and-coming young vibraphonists in the country: Oliver Mayman of Ann Arbor and Isaiah Petrie of Kansas City, Missouri.
That corroborated what many jazz lovers here already knew. Annette Luyben, daughter of the Luyben family of the iconic music store on Main Street, set up a percussion scholarship after hearing Petrie perform. “He blew my mind,” she said. “I saw this musician play and he’s remarkable.”
Petrie studies with Peter Schlamb at UMKC’s Conservatory under the direction of Carl Allen. He was a 2023 Riff Generation Resident Artist with KC Jazz Orchestra. He’s played with jazz greats Ernest Melton, Ryan Lee, Eddie Moore, DeAndre Manning and others at various local venues, including The Blue Room, Westport Coffee House and The Ship. He also plays restaurant gigs and corporate events.
And he has formed his own band, the DJ Quartet, including Dougan Smith, Nsikoh Bebe Lala and Jaylen Ward, which released a recording, “Vision External,” this summer. Plasticsax.com wrote that the recording “seems destined to be the unofficial debut showcase of Isaiah Petrie. The young vibraphonist is a rising star in Kansas City’s music community.” The review went on to praise the whole quartet for bringing “refreshing vitality to Kansas City’s mainstream jazz scene.”
Clearly Petrie’s career is taking off. Unlike the experience of many performers, for him, Petrie says, the pandemic period was a very creative, productive one. He spent it practicing, improving his craft, getting “deeper in music” and immersing himself in the vibraphone. “It was only recently that I felt a strong connection to the instrument,” he said in a recent interview. “I was more concerned about finding a way to learn and transmit my voice. The vibraphone was just a tool to meet that need.”
Petrie was born in Phoenix and his family moved to Overland Park in 2013. He remembers first feeling the impact of music at age 11, during a visit from his drummer cousin. Until then, Petrie’s musical upbringing had all been within the church, where, he said, “My father, Jacob L. Porter, plays organ, keyboard, drums, and has a strong voice. He has led multiple choirs as a music minister. My mother, Latonya Petrie-Porter, was a lead singer in churches most of her life.”
In high school Petrie dabbled with classical music and the marimba; the move to the vibraphone was a natural progression. He joined the high school jazz band and began composing for percussion ensembles. Petrie describes his development as “learning by ear and feeling it,” rather than adhering to standard forms. He listened to and analyzed the phrasings of Milt Jackson and Bobby Hutcherson and was drawn to the music of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
Petrie is inspired by KC’s music scene — the diversity of the musicians and all the styles represented — R&B, hip hop, jazz and fusion, standards and originals. He cites Marcus Lewis and his Brass and Boujee Big Band as singularly innovative — that sound is not found anywhere else.
“My ultimate dream is to be able to play for audiences around the world, sharing music that brings joy and hope to all. Regardless of musical background, I want the person who has never heard jazz and the most seasoned musicians to get equal value from my music.”
With his composition skills and vibraphone wizardry, Petrie looks likely to fulfill that dream. He may just revitalize jazz along the way.