Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival Boasts a Star-Studded Memorial Day Weekend

The Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival will feature a one-of-a-kind lineup of today’s greatest jazz and music performers. The festival celebrates Jazz and Kansas City’s music heritage by featuring national and local artists and highlighting Kansas City’s significant role in the national and global development of Jazz. The festival will take place over Memorial Day weekend, May 25 – 29, 2017, in Kansas City’s Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District.

The newly revised Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival features a full three days of live music, community activities and local eats. The Festival will honor and celebrate Jazz and Kansas City’s music heritage by featuring local and national artists, a one-of-a-kind lineup of today’s greatest performers, including Grammy award winners, and movie and television celebrities. Several stages set up across the festival grounds will highlight music in such varied genres as pop, R&B, blues, traditional and contemporary jazz and more. Headliners for the weekend include Grammy award winners John Scofield and Brandy; MacArthur Fellowship “genius grant” awardee Regina Carter; and New York-based sensation The Hot Sardines.

Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner, executive director of the American Jazz Museum, states, “We want to celebrate Kansas City’s role as one of the key pillars of jazz in the nation and honor the great and talented musicians in and from our wonderful city. This festival is to build pride in who we are as Kansas City and our role in the heritage of jazz in the nation and the world.”

John Scofield embodies stylistic diversity in his masterful improvisation and music, which generally falls somewhere between post-bop, fun-edged jazz and R&B. The Grammy-winning guitarist, composer and bandleader has allowed his musical eclecticism to be his guiding compass to explore a spectrum of idioms of genres, ranging from electric fusion to modern bop, from greasy R&B to drum-n-bass, and from rock to blues and gospel.

The multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning R&B/pop singer, songwriter and actress Brandy has come roaring back with a fearless and inspired attitude. Born into a musical family, Brandy became one of the most successful multi-media stars of the ’90s. This included a constant presence on both the pop and R&B charts, a popular hit sitcom “Moesha,” and the classic made-for-TV movie phenomenon “Cinderella,” which attracted more than 60 million viewers and broke new ground with its multi-cultural cast.

Violinist Regina Carter is considered the foremost jazz violinist of her generation — a designation that still does not seem to do her justice. Because of her curiosity, passion and quest for beauty, brought to every stop taken on her full musical journey, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (a “genius grant”). Carter’s 2010 album, Reverse Thread, celebrates the tradition of African music re-imagined for violin, accordion, bass, drums and kora.

In the talented hands of New York-based ensemble The Hot Sardines, music first made famous decades ago comes alive through their brassy horn arrangements, rollicking piano melodies, and vocals from a chanteuse who transports listeners to a different era with the mere lilt of her voice. On French Fries & Champagne, The Hot Sardines’ new album, the jazz collective broadens its already impressive palette, combining covers and originals as they effortlessly channel New York speakeasies, Parisian cabarets and New Orleans jazz halls.

The festival also honors Kansas City’s rich heritage in jazz by featuring local musicians and international phenomena Bobby Watson, Logan Richardson, Eddie Moore, Queen Bey, Angela Hagenbach and Oleta Adams. Throughout the weekend panel discussions will also take place with cast members of the hit Fox show Empire.

Though the main stage will require a paid ticket for admission, there are plenty of free activities available for all ages, including a marketplace highlighting African American and Kansas City vendors, kid zone, and multiple music stages. Tickets are available at www.kcjazzfest.com or by calling (816) 474-8463. Tickets can be purchased in person at the American Jazz Museum box office.

Support for the Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival includes the National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Kansas City, and Hall Family Foundation. Media Sponsors of the Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival are WDAF Fox 4 and The Pitch.

Sign up at www.kcjazzfest.com to receive updates on the latest information and lineup.

–Marissa Baum

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