Nothing beats some hot jazz and cool blues in the 18th and Vine District and Kansas City’s 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival will deliver both. The festival, Oct. 11, includes national and local performers on four stages. Again this year, Kansas City’s 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival will feature multiple stages with more than 22 artists or groups performing. In addition, fans can enjoy a food and arts court anchored by the top food, arts and crafts vendors in Kansas City, the Jazz Links Education Workshops, jazz film screenings, panel sessions, theKidz Zone and several other activities.
Last year, the festival drew more than 10,000 and this year, American Jazz Museum President and CEO Greg Carroll is hoping to top that number. “We need to support the legacy that is jazz and blues,” he says. “The history of jazz is intrinsically woven into Kansas City and it’s important that all of us in the community step up and support it. By doing so, we allow this art form to thrive. Plus it’s a great time. It’s a chance to spend time with other music lovers. You can learn about up-and-coming talent while seeing some legends in the blues and jazz world.”
Carroll extols the musical virtues of Roy Hargrove, a Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter who has played with Wynton Marsalis and Herbie Hancock. He was the bandleader of the progressive group, RH Factor, which combined elements of jazz, funk, hip-hop, soul, and gospel music. “I am really excited to bring him to the festival. At one point he was part of a group of ‘young lions’ … they were the next forerunners, but now he has definitely established himself in this world. He is one of the masters of the genre now. Those who are hardcore fans know Roy, but for those who don’t, I am excited to introduce him.”
Along with Hargrove, another legend coming in is Lucky Peterson. He’s a contemporary blues guitarist and keyboard player, who fuses soul, R&B, gospel and rock and roll into his music. He has recorded 18 solo albums. He’s one of the most versatile blues musicians in the international scene: blazing lead guitarist, fantastic organist and a first-class singer.
Then there is Meshell Ndegeocello, an American singer-songwriter who has been credited for having “sparked” the neo-soul movement. She has earned 10 Grammy nominations. She is known as a singer and bassist. Her biggest hit is a duet with John Cougar Mellencamp, a cover version of Van Morrison’s Wild Night, which reached No. 3 on the Billboard charts. The last stellar act to come in is Midnight Star. This high-energy R&B band came onto the scene in the mid-1970s and had several hits in the 1980s. Formed at Kentucky State University in 1976, Midnight Star continues with passion and a love of music that is sure to make anyone want to dance.
Trey Runnion, the board chairman for the American Jazz Museum, is thrilled that the desire to visit the 18th & Vine area began in August with the Charlie Parker Celebration through the last half of the month of August; the induction of local and national jazz legends to the American Jazz Walk of Fame Aug. 23; the Changing Gallery’s exhibition called Jazz Then and Now opens Oct. 1; and all this culminates into the festival Oct. 11. “When we renamed the festival last year to the Kansas City’s 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival, we re-established the festival to keep its historic roots even stronger.” This year’s poster artwork continues the theme of building the jazz ensemble and features a drummer.
“Jazz and blues has imprinted on American music and international artists,” Carroll says. “As we grow, we would love to be mentioned in the same breath as the Detroit Jazz Festival or the Montreal Jazz Festival. We need to be seen as a comparable festival. That’s worth aiming for in my mind.”
Visit festival.americanjazzmuseum.org for more information. Order tickets by calling the Box Office at (816) 474-6262.