This blog, kcjazzlark, started a year ago today. It was inspired by the music, and still is. To every Kansas City jazz musician I’ve had the delight to hear in the past year: Thank you for the joy.
I’ve written before about what precipitated the start of this blog. No need to repeat that, because that's not what this blog is about. It's about the musicians. It’s about the history. It’s about the jazz environment. It’s about the clubs. It’s about the shows. It’s about events. It’s about what we’ve done right. It’s about what we’ve done wrong. It’s about what we’ll do better.
But mostly, it’s about celebrating the music. The music that the jazz talent in this city delivers to audiences week in, week out, is stunning. In the past year, I've rediscovered this city's extraordinary established musicians and discovered an amazing number of young musicians making their mark through unbridled talent. From piano which pulled me into masterfully-told stories, to tenor sax impossibly pitch perfect, to soaring vocals, to solos on all instruments astounding me with imagination and drive, from groups built on jazz standards, to groups blending classics and modern, to shows so contemporary they bordered on performance art, I've been in clubs filled by magic.
I’ve heard standards rearranged by new KC masters. I’ve been introduced to numbers from musicians whose music I didn't know. I’ve heard new compositions by our own musicians as skillful and accomplished as jazz played anywhere.
I’ve loved every bit of it.
I’m going to overlook some people. Nonetheless, in no particular order: Thank you, Meagan and Shay and Mark and Paul and Bob and Tim and Ben and Zack and T.J. and D.J. and Roger and Jeff and Ida and Angela and Chris and Hermon and Will and Ryan and John and Steve and Matt and Zach and Brian and Stan and Clint and Doug and Luqman and Leon and Ahmad and Beau and Gerald and Lisa and Everett and Michael and Jim and Bobby and Sam and Myra and Millie and David and Kim and Joe and Lori and Geneva and Rod and Brad and Mike and Jake and Danny and Wayne and Tyrone and Deborah and Lonnie and Jurgen and Todd and Tommy and Julie and Dennis and Brandon and Rich and Bram and Will.
I’m a fan of every one of you.
That’s what it comes down to. I’m a fan who happens to have created a forum to share with the world how great this music is. And because I can’t repeat the same mantra all the time, some weeks, instead, I'll tell stories or gripe or poke.
Thank you, too, to the club owners and managers. You're critical to the music's survival. You do good work. And if you slip up, I'll let you know.
When I started this blog, I hoped to put up at least one post each week. Today's is the 77th, so, to my surprise, I've averaged nearly one-and-a-half per week. I’ve always had great respect for Joe Klopus, writer of The Star’s weekly jazz column. After trying to come up with something every week for a year, my respect has grown. Enormously.
When I started, I figured only my sister and neighbor and maybe my cousin read these posts (and later my sister told me she stopped). It’s easy to be impertinent when you think nobody sees your words. Then in January I added a free service which tracks hits (I don't know who you are, just how many of you are out there). I was surprised. There’s certainly not enough of you reading this to make any money off it (the story of jazz, right?), but you're more than my sister and neighbor and cousin. Enough that I’ve backed off some of the impertinence (except on those rare occasions when I feel the need to refute our friend Plastic Sax).
For the next year, I hope to continue to praise and complain, offer unsolicited advice, remember the past I knew, research the past I didn’t know, review, refute, provoke and, with your permission, photograph and document more of our spectacular musicians.
Because I know that, just as I talk about hearing Milt and “Fiddler” and Karrin, I and others will someday talk about when we heard some of those names I ran through above. You’re making that kind of an impact. And in fifty years, I want jazz fans doing a Google search to be able to know who you are.
Some young musicians are leaving town to seek the bigger cities' bright lights. It’s happened since the 1930s, at least, and always will. In those larger locales they will find more opportunities, but also more competition. However, I know they have no reason to worry.
The best rises to the top. The bigger cities will discover what we already know. When it comes to jazz musicians, in Kansas City we nurture the best.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to figure out what I’m going to post next.