Monday, April 26, 2010

Remembering Milton Morris

Surprisingly, to me, one of the most searched-for terms on this blog is Milton Morris. Embarrassingly, to me, one of the most anemically-written entries on this blog is the one on Milton Morris.

Time to do something about that.

We’ll start at the end.

When Milton Morris died, on November 21, 1983, his family received a telegram which read: “Deepest regrets at the passing of a real true longtime friend. Love, Count Basie.”

Basie told a reporter at the time, “He gave everybody a break when they were down and really needed it. Including Bill Basie.”

Milton's early joints hired then-local names like Basie, Lester Young, Jo Jones, Ben Webster. He said: “Basie got $5 a night and the rest of the band got $3 each. And we knew women with a rooming house who’d give them room and board for $8 a week. So we knew people had a place to eat and sleep. But nobody ate. Nobody slept. There was too much going on.”

Born in 1911 to immigrant parents, the second of six children (five boys, one girl), Milton’s father abandoned the family. His mother, unable to earn enough to support them, placed the boys in an orphanage. As each brother reached his teens, he worked the streets to make a buck where, said Milton’s niece, “They weren’t ever really out-and-out crooks, but at times I guess they were the next thing to it.”

While in those teens, the story goes (I’ve seen variations placing him at 13, 17 or 18 years old), Milton bought a bankrupt drugstore at 26th and Troost and filled Prohibition-era prescriptions for medicinal whiskey at $2 a bottle. Another story describes a store-front gambling joint near 27th and Troost which bankrolled his early ventures, perhaps including bootlegging.

While in his early 20s, Prohibition ended and, Milton said, that day he turned the soda taps into beer taps. He owned the Hey-Hay Club at Fourth and Cherry, a converted barn where patrons sat on haystacks. Other nightspots followed, including the Novelty Club at 16th and McGee and Milton’s Tap Room at 35th and Troost. And then the club most of us around today remember, Milton’s Tap Room at 3241 Main Street, where he held forth from 1951 until his death. And where so many of us heard the stories.

Walk in and as your eyes adjusted – the darkest bar in town, Milton called it – you’d usually find a five-and-a-half foot tall man sitting on a bar stool near the door, scotch (Cutty Sark) and water in hand, cigar nearby. Jazz filled the room (after the move to Main Street, his collection of hundreds of albums provided the music). And you listened to stories about the years Tom Pendergast and jazz ruled Kansas City. One article described his speaking style as a hip W.C. Fields. Milton was the sum of his tales, (most of) which (probably) grew from a kernel of truth before (almost certainly) marvelous embellishment.

Like the one about New Year’s eve, 1932, when he paid vice officers $10 each to raid his club at 12:30 and 3:30 a.m., to clear the place out and turn the crowd.

Or about his visit to Harry Truman in the White House in 1948, with Julia Lee and Baby Lovett: “Truman’s got his bar in the White House. They’ve got Secret Service men. They’ve got Danny Kaye, Arthur Godfrey, Julia Lee, Baby Lovett and myself and Truman. And he’s still drinking Pendergast whiskey. So I have a few shots, and I say to myself, ‘Look at this little Jew from an orphan home, standing here with the president of the United States. I wonder what words of wisdom he’s got to say.’ He turns around to me, and he says, “Milt, they still got all those whores down around 14th and Cherry?’”

Or his slogans, such as: “Drive fast, talk back to the cops…and tell ‘em you know me.”

We remember that age wasn’t necessarily an impediment to drinking at Milton’s. Or that occasionally, after a phone call to the bar, Milton’s wife, Shirley, might walk around telling drinkers not quite the right age yet that they needed to leave, and that a short time later police would visit.

We remember that Milton facetiously ran for governor four or five times, on a platform of legalizing casino gambling, horse racing at the downtown airport and 4 a.m. bar closings (we’ve since done some of that; he was right).

We remember a prankster who printed play money that he would leave on the floor and which, in the dark after a few drinks, looked real. Pick it up, stuff it in your pocket, and the next morning you’d pull it out to find a caricature of Milton staring right at you.

We remember that he was one of the only white club owners to campaign for public accommodations laws which mandated integration.

And we remember a genuinely nice man who ran large tabs for his regulars and knew Kansas City at its best.

“ Let me tell you,” Milton said. “You see Vegas today? Paris? They were nothing compared to what it was right here. We were wide open and swinging. It wasn’t just a livable city. It was a swinging city.

“And all the musicians all over the country heard about what was going on here, and they all drifted in here, all the musicians, to challenge our musicians, And when they got here and heard the people we had here, they set their horns down. Because we had the greatest.”

There’s a story with more than a kernel of truth.


The stories and quotes above are from articles which ran in the The Kansas City Star and The Kansas City Times around the time of Milton’s death in 1983, and from a remembrance in the The Kansas City Star’s Sunday Star Magazine in December, 1989. The Star’s web archives currently date back only to 1991. So maybe this adds a smidge to the online record.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Other Jazz Museums That Weren't, 5

Fits and starts, excitement over plans, then failed plans, excitement over announcements, then withdrawn announcements. They all litter Kansas City’s path to a jazz museum as recounted in parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of this series. Then, in March, 1989, the announcement that all competing groups had come together for an International Jazz Hall of Fame and a plan, described in my post The Jazz Museum That Wasn’t, would be built in Kansas City.

Let’s revel in the excitement of the moment.


“The dream goes something like this:

“You drive south on Vine Street from the historic 18th and Vine District, turn right on 21st Street, and pull into the parking lot behind the new International Jazz Hall of Fame.

“You might be dropping your kids off for music lessons in one of the facility’s studios or attending a jazz performance in the building’s 535-seat theater.

“You could be a jazz lover who wants to soak up the historic atmosphere, or you might be a tourist who leaves with a souvenir from the memorabilia shop.

“After you’ve explored what the hall of fame has to offer, you may take a colorfully decorated walkway east across Vine Street, where statues of Count Basie and Charlie Parker rise from a courtyard. Just beyond, in a building that looks like a movie-set castle, is a black history museum….

“Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, who performed before a sell-out crowd at the Folly Theater on Saturday night and is scheduled to perform again at 2 p.m. today, gave his blessing to the project at a press conference Saturday at the Allis Plaza Hotel.

“‘My heart has always been in Kansas City,’ Gillespie said. ‘I think no other place on the planet deserves to be (the home of) the International Jazz Hall of Fame, and I say that graciously, because I’m from South Carolina. Kansas City has always been the place for the development of our music.’”

The Kansas City Star, March 12, 1989


“If all goes well with fund raising, the hall of fame will be in the former city water works building and stables that have been vacant for decades at 2018 Vine St. The buildings are across the street from the Black Archives of Mid-America Inc….”

“[Organizers] estimated that renovation of the buildings will cost nearly $5 million, with money coming from contributions and endowments, and will take place in three phases.

“Organizers expect the building to be home to a museum housing the John Baker Film Collection and to numerous jazz academies, including the Parker-Gillespie Institute of Jazz Masters, the Count Basie Academy of Performing Arts, the Count Basie Jazz Band headquarters and the Mahalia Jackson Academy of Gospel Music….

“[Organizers] said the Baker Film Collection, purchased by the city in 1984, would be included in a museum that would house other jazz artifacts….

“Hall of fame plans also call for space for the world renowned Count Basie Orchestra.

“Aaron A. Woodward III, son of Count Basie and chief executive officer for Count Basie Enterprises Inc., recently wrote a letter to [Eddie] Baker, executive director of the Charlie Parker Memorial Foundation in Kansas City, congratulating him on the jazz hall of fame.

“‘With the support of Berkley, Hazley, the Hallmark Company and the Kansas City community, there is no way that jazz cannot and will not flourish in Kansas City, the United States and throughout the world,’ the letter said. ‘The opening of the Basie Academy of Performing Arts will enable young people from all over the world to learn what Kansas City Jazz is all about.

“‘We hope and pray that with the opening of the International Jazz Hall of Fame the Count Basie Orchestra will finally have a home to help keep the legacy alive.’

“The decision to put the hall of fame on Vine Street came after much discussion….

“‘Everybody involved finally came to realize that it would be better to have the project in the 18th and Vine area because it had the historical significance there, [organizers said]….

“The water works building and stables are still owned by the city. Project organizers are working on an agreement with the city under which the buildings could be leased for $1 a year, city officials said.

“‘We’ve dreamed that this would happen for a long time, [Horace Peterson, director of the Black Archives of Mid-America] said. ‘It will help the entire area. When people go to the Black Archives they’ll go across the street to the International Jazz Hall of Fame, and when they go to the hall of fame, they’ll go to the Black Archives.’”

The Kansas City Times, March 10, 1989


“…Six weeks ago, the hall’s financial plan received…a public-assisted jump start in a big way. That’s when 5th District councilman the Rev. Emanuel Cleaver introduced what he calls his ‘107 Plan,’ known officially as Res. No. 64698. The plan calls for a city-funded $109 million capital improvements appropriation that includes a $20 million allocation for the hall and the surrounding area.”

The KC View, a now-defunct alternative weekly, November 15, 1989


“Start-up money for the hall is to come out of a $100-million-plus capital improvements program adopted earlier this month by the Kansas City Council. About $20 million from the improvements program will go to revitalizing the 18th and Vine Histroric District, which could include a black archives museum and a Negro League baseball hall of fame. About $8 million of that goes directly to the jazz hall….

“The cost for the jazz hall presented to the City Council was $10.325 million. Financing not provided by the city will be made up by major grants and gifts….

“‘It’s not going to be supported by the citizens of Kansas City,’ [an organizer] said. ‘The percentages of people who love jazz aren’t there….’”

The Kansas City Star, December 21, 1989


Fits and starts, plans, failed plans, announcements, withdrawn announcements.

Surely you don’t think the pattern was about to change.

Details, in another blog post, when this series continues next month.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Other Jazz Museums That Weren't, 4

A couple more installments this week, recounting Kansas City’s efforts to establish a jazz museum. Parts 1, 2 and 3 began telling the tale, dating to the 1960s, though quotes from news articles, studies and documents accumulated during my years with the Jazz Commission and the Jazz Festival.

While Kansas City interests fought over where a Jazz Hall of Fame/museum should be located, people in other cities were working to build one before we did.


“Jazz legend Charlie ‘Yardbird’ Parker, a master of the tenor [sic] saxophone who was born in Kansas City, Kan., and raised in Kansas City, was to be inducted today into the National Jazz Hall of Fame in Charlottesville, Va. Pianist Art Tatum will also be inducted.

“The hall of fame was founded in 1982 and includes on its advisory board musicians Benny Goodman and Chick Corea and critic Leonard Feather. Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington were the first to be inducted last year.

“[The] president of the organization said the group was trying to raise $1.5 million to construct the first phase of a permanent facility in the Charlottesville area.”

The Kansas City Star, November 16, 1984


“The 18th and Vine District of Kansas City is rich in Jazz History and was the Jazz Area of Kansas City in the 1930’s, 1940’s and the 1950’s. In the fall of 1982 [this is incorrect; it was in October, 1983] the City Council passed a resolution to establish a National Jazz Hall of Fame in this Historic District….

“PGAV was retained by the Kansas City, Missouri Office of Housing and Community Development to develop a space program, study adaptive use buildings and to determine a feasible concept for a Jazz Hall of Fame in the 18th and Vine District….

“One of the major motivations to identify a suitable site and building was the acquisition by the City of a large collection of jazz films and the need to have a facility to store, catalog, edit and show this rare collection.

“The potential adaptive use buildings identified by the City for analysis were:

“a.  17th and Woodland Parks Department Building;
“b.  YMCA Building at 18th and Paseo Boulevard;
“c.  GEM Theater Building on 18th between Vine and Highland;
“d.  Jackson Property adjacent to GEM Theater at 18th and Highland;
“e.  Armory Building at 18th and Highland;
“f.  Roberts Eblon Building at 19th and Vine;
“g.  Workhouse Castle at 20th and Vine; and
“h.  The Public Works Building at 20th and Vine.”

Jazz Hall of Fame Facility Analysis and Concept Plan, September 26, 1984

The study establishes a need for at least 27,000 square feet of space. It then evaluates each location on condition, suitability, visibility, parking, architectural appeal, expansion potential, availability and cost. It includes floor plans for each building.


“4.2.2  GEM Theater plus a new structure

“The GEM Theater with a new structure could be implemented in a variety of schemes. One would be to construct a new facility across the street to house all of the programmed functions except the auditorium. The new structure would give a sense of commitment to the area and the project. The new structure could be built on the northwest corner of 18th and Vine, on the north side of 18th Street across from the GEM or on the northwest corner of 18th and Highland, all vacant properties.

“The utilization of vacant properties removes them from commercial development which may be more productive to the economy of the area.

“The Jazz Facility with parking could take all of the property mentioned above….”

Jazz Hall of Fame Facility Analysis and Concept Plan, September 26, 1984

There it is, option 4.2.2, the form that the jazz museum would take 13 years later.


“The Kansas City Jazz Commission on Friday formally endorsed the concept of an international jazz hall of fame.

“Commissioners also pledged to work with the Black Economic Union to transform the old Gem Theater near 18th and Vine streets into a jazz center where the John Baker Film Collection owned by the city could be housed.

“[The] co-chairman of the commission said the hall of fame action represented the beginning of a new era because it put to rest bickering between opposing factions on where the hall of fame should be.”

The Kansas City Star, April 21, 1985


Now fast forward to March, 1989 and the plan and press conference described in my post, The Jazz Museum That Wasn’t. That announcement would be the next major public push, and the one that would directly lead to the American Jazz Museum we know today. But not smoothly.

Details in the next post, up later this week.

Monday, April 12, 2010

In Lieu of 1000 Words: Junior Mance at The Blue Room

It’s not every day you see a drummer in high heels.

And how does that drummer work the drum pedals? Why, by removing her shoes and drumming barefoot, of course.

At least, that’s how pianist Junior Mance’s drummer kept time during his wonderful show at The Blue Room on April 4th.

I’ve heard Junior Mance on numerous recordings (he’s on my iPod backing Dizzy Gillespie and Jimmy Witherspoon, for starters) but this was my first chance to catch him live. And what a joyous night it was, a mix of ballads, blues and swing. You can find the Kansas City Star's review here.

Junior even came with midwest connections. His tenor saxophonist, Ryan Anselmi, is from KC and played while in high school with Jay McShann. And that high-heeled drummer, Kim Garey, hails from Hutchinson, Kansas.

In the photos below you’re going to see smiles. Because that night, everyone – musicians and audience – left The Blue Room with a wide one on their face.

Here’s a visual sampling of what we enjoyed (clicking on a photo should open a larger version of it):

Junior Mance playing piano

Junior and the saxes

Ryan Anselmi on tenor sax

Junior Mance on piano

Andrew Hadro on baritone sax

Junior Mance, enjoying a solo

The rhythm section

Hide Tanaka on bass

Junior Mance, more great piano

Kim Garey on drums

Junior Mance

Thursday, April 8, 2010

This 'n That 'n New Metheny (Not That One)

1987, and we were looking for headliners for the Kansas City Jazz Festival. We needed at least two, one to cap each night of the event. I was an organizer back then. I don’t remember who we signed first, but we found a pair of outstanding trumpet players were available: Wynton Marsalis and Mike Metheny.

I do remember we were thrilled to grab both. Wynton’s celebrated group included pianist Marcus Roberts. And Mike hadn’t lived in the KC area for over a decade, had released a new CD the year prior, and around here was plenty well known.

On the festival stage, Wynton’s performance was clinical. A friend later told me that his wife turned to him during the show and asked, “When does this get fun?”

Nobody asked that during Mike’s performance. His EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument) was new to us, the first time most at the fest had heard it live. We were enthralled. And trumpet and flugelhorn kept the crowd equally captivated.

I’m remembering this now because now we have the delight of a new Mike Metheny CD, the just-released 60.1.

Some of the album’s music trends a bit more electronic than my personal old-fashioned taste. But there’s variety here. Old-fashioned me gravitates first towards the lively blues, C.C. and Water. Then Mike’s haunting EVI draws me into and leads me through the film-noire-ish Blue Smoke. And I’m entranced by both piano and horn on the lyrical ballad Laurie.

Besides, with sidemen like pianists Roger Wilder and Paul Smith, bassist Bob Bowman, guitarist Danny Embry and drummer Brandon Draper, this is a collection of KC talent I treasure.

I understand Mike’s little brother has a new CD out, too. I hear it’s some fancy thing that he’s doing shows all over the world to support. Mike’s CD, on the other hand, was recorded right here with some of Kansas City’s best musicians.

If I could only afford one, I know which I’d choose.

60.1 can be ordered from Mike’s web site, here.


At last, a way to find out who’s playing at The Majestic each night! And the lineup is better than I thought.

Their apparently abandoned Twitter account is again active with tweets, including a few each day announcing that night’s talent. On my one weekend visit, several months back, the jazz club music was a rather sorry lounge sound. But the tweets are listing combos well worth a new look (Bram Wijnands and Steve Lambert last week, for instance, I’m sorry I missed).

Sadly, their web site as yet offers no calendar, so there’s little way to plan in advance. If you added one, Majestic, I’d gladly link to it. Because your tweets show that many nights you’re featuring more legit jazz than is sometimes found in a certain other downtown jazz spot.

The Majestic’s tweets can be found here.


Speaking of online calendars, why, when I go to R Bar’s, do I first find reviews from 2009? Am I the only one looking at an entertainment calendar for a current listing of entertainment? Why make us scroll past praise and last week’s schedule for the info we seek? Why not put it front and center on the page where it’s promised?

And maybe the listing could be complete? This week I can see who’s playing Thursday and Saturday but not Friday. Why?

R Bar doesn't feature jazz every night, but often enough that it's worth checking who's there. I know I’d enjoy drinks and a meal while hearing David Basse, then Millie Edwards (next week) or Shay Estes (the week after). In fact, I see on Shay’s web site she’s booked there each month through July. It’d be nice to be able to find that out on the venue’s site, too.

I feel another post ranting about marketing coming on.


For a couple of our sterling young jazz musicians, a scraggly look seems to be in vogue. That doesn’t work for me, guys. I don’t expect coat or tie, but a respectable appearance is merely showing respect for the audience. I’m not naming names – I have no desire to embarrass anyone – but I’ll bet they know who they are.

If I left a bigger tip, would you guys consider a haircut?


So how do I remember who played the jazz festival 23 years ago? Well, there may not be many other jazz fans with a fest poster autographed by both Wynton Marsalis and Mike Metheny on their wall.

(Mike’s new CD, 60.1…it's at his web site, here.)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Our Once-Every-30-Years Snapshot

Now we know. It’s once every thirty years.

Once every thirty years, apparently, we are given the chance to revel in a new documentary on Kansas City jazz.

1980 saw the premiere of The Last of the Blue Devils, the so far seminal film on Kansas City’s jazz history. The movie is also a lively snapshot of so many of our then-living jazz legends, captured reminiscing and performing.

On May 6th we get a new filmed snapshot of KC jazz, this one circa 2010: Sue Vicory’s Kansas City Jazz and Blues; Past, Present and Future.

I had the pleasure of meeting Sue about a month back. Why did she make this film? Same reasons I write this blog: Joy of the music, adoration of the musicians, infatuation with our jazz and blues culture and institutions. And a loving desire to document it all, today, in Kansas City.

The hour long documentary is split in thirds: KC jazz and blues yesterday, today, and the promise of the future. She’s filmed interviews and performances with our musical stars, ranging from Myra Taylor to Hermon Mehari, from Cotton Candy to Leon Brady’s Youth Jazz students. Also Bobby Watson, Marilyn Maye, Karrin Allyson, The McFadden Brothers, Stan Kessler. And I’m just scratching the surface and ignoring the blues side.

But Sue isn’t just some fan with a camera man. She’s a film making professional, through her nonprofit production company, Heartland Films.

For KC jazz and blues, she’s scoured the city. She’s filmed in jazz and blues clubs and halls and foundations all over town. She’s generally been graciously welcomed, but occasionally evicted (despite first obtaining the requisite permission). She’s been greeted by some with warmth, by some with skepticism, and by some with skepticism then warmth. She’s searched Union Station and UMKC and libraries and more for photos and footage. For three years, she’s done this.


Joy of the music, adoration of the musicians, infatuation with the culture and institutions. And a loving desire to document it all.

So, Kansas City, here’s what I say we owe her: Attend the premiere, May 6th, 6 to 9 p.m., at the Gem Theater in the 18th and Vine district. And you’ll see and hear far more than just a film.

For instance, Marilyn Maye will be there – her pianist is flying in from New York – giving us the wonderful opportunity to hear her sing on stage a month-and-a-half before her Jardine’s engagement. Diverse with special guest Matt Otto will open the night. Trumpeters Stan Kessler, Lonnie McFadden and Hermon Mehari will perform together. A special jam session will close the night.

And we’ll see a documentary, a 2010 snapshot of Kansas City jazz and blues.

The film’s web site is here. Its Facebook fan page is here. Most importantly, call 816-474-6262 for tickets or get them trough Ticketmaster, here.


A bit disappointing, though, is that a few musicians declined to participate. I’ve seen something like this before, around the time I was appointed Jazz Commission chairman, more than 20 years ago.

Then, the book Goin’ to Kansas City was recently published. It’s an excellent history of Kansas City jazz, told through quotes from dozens of musicians interviewed by the author. At the time, the author was making the rounds of book stores, signing and selling copies.

I remember walking into the Mutual Musicians Foundation and sitting across the table from some of those musicians, older men who had lived the history. And I listened to them talk about how someone else was making money off their tales. I heard them discuss gladly donating their time to the author, but then discuss the hurt of seeing him profit from that generosity.

With some, caution prevails today. I understand the sentiment. Music is a business. Through their time and talent, musicians make a living.

But this film is a self-financed labor of love. The only profiting will be by those of us who enjoy the finished product.

Which leaves me a little sad for the non-participants. Because I look back at The Last of the Blue Devils and recognize that future generations will know some of our now-gone musical legends, like Speedy Huggins and Herman Walder and Sonny Kenner, through their presence in that film. There’s a unique record of them there. Likewise, in decades to come, some of today’s Kansas City jazz and blues legends – and some of the musicians you hear in Kansas City today will be known as legends – will be better remembered because of a filmed record of them, available to all. Through that documentary record, like Speedy and Herman and Sonny, they’ll still exist.

That makes this snapshot all the more special.


Once again: It’s Kansas City Jazz and Blues; Past, Present and Future. The premiere is May 6th. The film’s web site is here. Its Facebook fan page is here. Call 816-474-6262 for tickets or get them trough Ticketmaster, here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

New Jazz Order Big Band at The Blue Room

I’ve learned not to try writing reviews. I don’t have the right vocabulary for it. I just fill it with superlatives like great, outstanding, terrific, tremendous.

But I was so taken by the show last Monday at The Blue Room that I’m compelled to document something. So…

The New Jazz Order Big Band with guest Megan Birdsall was a showcase of great jazz. Between outstanding soloists like Clint Ashlock, T.J. Martley, Matt Chalk, Hermon Mehari, Steve Lambert and Kerry Strayer – I’m missing some names – and the voice of the always terrific Megan Birdsall, the evening was tremendous.

Okay, maybe I can do a little better than that.

Anyone wanting to argue that big bands draw older crowds saw solid support for that stance Monday night at The Blue Room. But anyone wanting to argue a big band can’t draw a crowd was proven dead wrong. By 8 p.m., the club was packed, standing room only.

And KC jazz fans who weren't there will wish they were. Music ranged from Ellington standards to modern Maria Schneider and Thad Jones numbers, all played with group precision and solo innovation. On Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You, Clint Ashlock’s trumpet solo soared, blowing with intensity ’til his faced shone crimson (looked like his head might explode). Same number, T.J. Martley’s piano solo seamlessly flowed from stylings of Basie to stylings of Monk, bridged by thought and intelligence. I first heard T.J. several months back and have had a couple other chances to catch him since. He is one of the most under-recognized jazz pianists in Kansas City.

Another young star is tenor saxophonist Steve Lambert. But it was his clarinet on Black Coffee that grabbed me most, an engaging solo which pulled us through a musical journey. Meanwhile, young alto dude Matt Chalk (along with older baritone dude Kerry Strayer) tore apart Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby. Matt is currently renowned in KC for playing the Grammy Awards this year. He’s destined to be renowned everywhere for his dynamic playing on alto sax.

I’ve written before about some of the unbelievable young talent in Kansas City today. Add T.J., Steve and Matt to the list of those I haven’t mentioned enough.

One I have mentioned and photographed more than once is singer Megan Birdsall, in part because hearing her with a big band at The Blue Room 11 months ago inspired me to seek out this city’s other young talent and, ultimately, to start this blog. As wonderful as she is with a small group, hearing that voice mesh with 16 other musicians this talented is a special delight. She absorbs the surroundings and her voice responds. In a people-are-there-to-listen environment like The Blue Room, as audience eyes closed and heads swayed, that near-perfect blend of voice and instruments delivered a night of musical magic.

The New Jazz Order Big Band plays most Tuesdays from 9 p.m. to midnight at Harling’s, 39th and Main. Steve Lambert’s quartet, including T.J. Martley, plays the late show (10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.) on April 17th at Jardine’s (calendar linked at the right). You now have fair warning on when and where to catch some of KC’s best jazz.

And there it is, my stab at a review. It even includes some new superlatives. For this show, they were needed. And deserved.