So I was surprised to see probably a hundred fans start to fill Johnson County Community College’s Polsky Theatre when Megan Birdsall took the stage to open Saturday’s Jazz Winterlude. The crowd was easily up to 150 by the time her set ended. And it continued growing throughout the day.
Audiences rambunctiously cheered Everett Devan and Chris Hazelton’s dual Hammond B3s, sat thrilled by Diverse Quartet’s set of classic Ellington, and took to their feet for the New Red Onion Jazz Babies.
Meanwhile, the next door Recital Hall, a more intimate setting, needed more seats each time I looked in. In there, I caught some of Candace Evan’s wonderful trio and the Turkish jazz of Alaturka. Micheal O’Shiver and Alice Jenkins also packed the room.
At night, hundreds filled Yardley Hall for an opening set by Killer Strayhorn then the incredible piano of Eldar, who grew up in Prairie Village and who we in Kansas City will always consider to be one of our own.
Congratulations to the Winterlude staff for a magnificent weekend of jazz. Those of you who stayed home watching basketball have no clue about the magnificent music you missed. So let me show you a little of it. As always, clicking on a photo should open a larger version.
Saturday opened in Polsky Theatre with Megan Birdsall's quartet. Left to right: Wayne Hawkins on piano, Megan Bridsall, vocals, Bob Bowman on bass, Tim Cambron on drums.
Wayne Hawkins and Megan Birdsall
Next up in Polsky was the Everette DeVan / Chris Hazelton Group with a pair of Hammond B3 organs. Left to right: Everette DeVan on Hammond B3, Matt Hopper on guitar, Danny Rojas on drums, Chris Hazelton on Hammond B3.
Everett DeVan and Matt Hopper
Everett, Matt, Danny and Chris
I've photographed Diverse before. This day they performed as Diverse Quartet with, left to right, Andrew Ouellette on piano, Ben Leifer on bass, Ryan Lee on drums, and Hermon Mehari on trumpet.
Evening performances in Yardley Hall opened with Killer Strayhorn. Left to right: A hidden Chris Lewis on piano, James Isaac on saxophone, Greg Clinkingbeard on bass, Pablo Sanhueza on percussion, and Mike Shanks on drums.
Chris Lewis, Greg Clinkingbeard, Pablo Sanhueza and Mike Shanks
Headlining the night was pianist Eldar Djangirov, better known these days just as Eldar.
Eldar with his trio
Eldar on piano, leading his trio
Eldar in Yardley Hall