Monday, June 14, 2010

In Lieu of 1000 Words: Bobby Watson at Jazz in the Woods

Jazz in the Woods was started by two people who were on my board of directors the year I was president of the Kansas City Jazz Festival.

They didn’t like the person who followed me as festival president, so they left to start a new jazz festival in Corporate Woods.

(I don’t know what either is doing today, but the last time I ran into one of them, she was studying to be a rabbi.)

Jazz in the Woods, also known as the Corporate Woods Jazz Festival, hasn’t always been embraced by the KC jazz community, at least not since the late Vince Bilardo booked the bands. These days it mostly features commercial smooth sounds. And wasn’t it last year that they handed over one night to country music? That was dumb.

But let’s give due credit: They have produced an outdoor jazz festival, with every performance free to the public, for 21 uninterrupted years. I’m not sure any other KC area event – much less a jazz festival – can lay claim to such an envious record.

Besides, any festival that books Bobby Watson is clearly doing something right.

Last Saturday night, Bobby Watson’s quartet entertained thousands. If a group Bobby assembles has ever delivered anything less than superb jazz, I haven’t heard it. This one starred Bobby’s long-time friend and outstanding bassist Curtis Lundy, plus pianist Chris Clarke and drummer Michael Warren.

Here’s a sampling of how it looked (as always, clicking on a photo should open a larger version of it).

Left to right: Michael Warren on drums, Chris Clarke on electric piano, Curtis Lundy on bass, Bobby Watson on alto sax

Bobby Watson on alto

Bassist Curtis Lundy

The Bobby Watson Quartet

Bobby plays

Chris Clarke on electric piano

Drummer Michael Warren

Curtis Lundy

Bobby Watson


  1. Great photos.

    I remember when Jazz In the Woods consisted of little more than Vince Bilardo and Mike Ning playing in the parking lot of a strip mall.


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