Monday, November 12, 2012

This 'n That 'n Free Winterlude

The first year, it snowed the day before. I worked the box office at the event, as a volunteer. People called to see if the festival was still on, before venturing out of their home. That was not a good way to build an audience.

Johnson County Community College (JCCC) staged its first Jazz Winterlude in January, 2010. While the schedules have been filled with some of the best local jazz, tickets priced at $25 and up, more than snow, may have kept interested audiences from growing into jazz crowds.

Not next January.

All concerts at Jazz Winterlude 2013, set for January 18 and 19, are free to everyone. And this is a schedule Kansas City jazz fans will find exceptional. Take a look:

Friday, January 18
7:00 − 7:50 p.m.:  David Basse Orchestra, in Yardley Hall
8:00 − 9:00 p.m.:  Julian Lage Duo, in Yardley Hall
9:15 − 10-15 p.m.:  Deborah Brown, in Yardley Hall

Saturday, January 19
1:00 − 1:15 p.m.:  Megan Birdsall Quartet, in Polsky Theatre
                              Michael O’Shiver (harp), in Recital Hall
2:00 − 2:50 p.m.:  Everett DeVan/Chris Hazelton Group (B3 organs),
                              in Polsky Theatre
                              Alice Jenkins (vocal/piano), in Recital Hall
3:00 − 3:50 p.m.:  Diverse Quartet, in Polsky Theatre
                              Candace Evans Trio, in Recital Hall
4:00 − 4:50 p.m.:  New Red Onion Jazz Babies, in Polsky Theatre
                              Alaturka, in Recital Hall
7:00 − 7:50 p.m.:  Killer Strayhorn, in Yardley Hall
8:00 − 10:00 p.m.:  Eldar Djangirov, in Yardley Hall

JCCC’s Yardley Hall is one of this region’s most acoustically magnificent spaces. The opportunity to hear Deborah Brown’s vocals and Eldar’s piano in there is an exciting one. These are dates to set aside now.

Even if it snows.

(Jazz Winterlude’s web site is here.)


Is gliding the word I’m looking for? Maybe soaring? In some songs, it’s both. Tangos Flamenco for example. Stan glides over Beau’s intricate rhythms before taking off and soaring with excitement. Here’s two masters of their instruments playing world music with intricacy and exhilaration. And fun.

I've photographed guitarist Beau Bledsoe with his extraordinary Turkish jazz group Alaturka (here). They play Saturday’s Winterlude date. Trumpeter Stan Kessler performs with more groups than I can count, the best known being Sons of Brazil. I photographed them here. Together, Beau and Stan have formed the group duo Passport, playing music with a world bent. Is it Latin? Cuban? Spanish? South American? I suppose all of the above.

Passport has released its first, self-titled CD.

Beau lays down rhythms on guitar and oud mesmerizing yet complex. Some tunes are familiar, such as Ave Maria, where Stan’s perfect tone overlays feelings of beautiful melancholy. Meanwhile, Que Nadie Sepa Mi Sufrir bounces with playfulness. The interaction between the two musicians on Choro Por Ze draws you in with a broad smile.

Is it jazz? Is it world music? Yes. But mostly – no, entirely – it’s wonderful music.

Passport can be purchased here.


I first heard T.J. Martley in 2009, filling in for Mark Lowrey with Shay Estes’ group. I photographed the evening here. Shay turned to the audience at one point and, pointing at T.J., said, “Isn’t he great?”

Yes. Yes, he is.

And he’s now released an album of jazz meditations titled, not surprisingly, Meditations, Vol. 1.

This CD of piano solos is an album of trains of thought, musical impressions of the moment. Sometimes obtuse like Monk, consistently engaging, a close listen pulls you into the music’s appealing twists and complexity.

Meditations, Vol. 1 can be downloaded from iTunes here or purchased on CD here.

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