Monday, June 3, 2013

The Magic Jazz Fairy Is Busy

It was tired. It was tired because it had been so busy. There were so many nights and shows to promote, and the information was, mostly, readily available. So, yes, it was tired, but this was a good tired.

Think about it (not that you, personally, have any experiences you can directly relate to this). But flapping wings, especially large wings, to levitate a body then propel it quickly from jazz fan to jazz fan while they sleep, must expend considerable energy.

So imagine you’re the Magic Jazz Fairy. As we’ve established before, every city of any consequence has one. Because in so many cities – and heaven knows Kansas City nightspots of the past have been guilty of this – club owners fail to promote their jazz offerings and just expect audiences to show up because it’s jazz. And they can get away with that because they know there must be a Magic Jazz Fairy who flies to every jazz fan while we sleep telling us when and where jazz can be heard, so we wake up knowing, just knowing, so it clearly cannot be the club owner’s fault if nobody shows up.

And Kansas City recently has seen – of course nobody is pretending this is New York or Chicago or L.A., but for Kansas City – an exceptional story to tell. Jazz every night of the week. Sundays Mark Lowrey jams at The Majestic while Bram Wijnands followed by another show swings Green Lady Lounge, and some Sundays add a band at Take Five. Mondays mean a jam or big band at The Blue Room and Millie Edwards at The Phoenix. Tuesdays are Everett DeVan’s turn to jam at The Phoenix, Hermon Mehari’s at The Majestic, and someone different each week at Green Lady. Green Lady keeps jumpin’ on Wednesdays. By Thursday, you can add the Kill Devil Club and The Blue Room back to the list. And on Friday and Saturday, Take Five and everybody else kicks in, some clubs spotlighting a couple shows each night, plus the Mutual Musicians Foundation jamming all night.

And these aren’t trivial performances. Drum star Winard Harper visits KC this month. Trumpet Summit – Mike Metheny, Stan Kessler and Hermon Mehari, all at once – perform this month, too. And Matt Otto's quintet. And Sons of Brazil. And Book of Gaia.

Not only that, the Magic Jazz Fairy smiled, but each of the clubs maintains an online calendar, and maintains it reasonably well.

Now throw in special evenings of more eclectic jazz at GrĂ¼nauer (Fado Novato, Snuff Jazz) or The Record Bar (People’s Liberation Big Band), occasional nights at Louie’s Wine Dive, and hotel bars here and there, and Kansas City’s Magic Jazz Fairy has suddenly found itself with plenty to stay on top of.

It’s the situation every Magic Jazz Fairy craves: Lots of jazz to whisper to sleeping fans and, whether through online calendars or notices on Facebook, shows reasonably easy to discover.

Stopping a moment from its frantic rounds, the Magic Jazz Fairy took a breath to note Kansas City jazz today was lively but peaceful. An uncommon stability has seemed to settle over the scene. No faction of the jazz community, as far as this Fairy could tell, was battling another. No club was threatening to go out of business. New performance spaces were dipping their toes into the jazz-related waters. The Pitch has even started promoting a jazz show a week (the name writing that new piece seemed awfully familiar, but the Magic Jazz Fairy couldn’t quite place it).

There was no sniff of friction in the air.

In fact, the local music festival to cancel itself was Kanrockas, an oddly-named event which one organizer described as targeting “three genres: electronic/DJ, hip-hop, and about 55 to 60 percent of the lineup will focus on alternative rock.” Gee, the Magic Jazz Fairy wryly contemplated, if that had been a jazz festival in Kansas City going under, commentators would be wetting themselves to morbidly declare jazz is dead. Surely the same standards apply here. Surely this event bucket-kicking must mean electronic/DJ, hip-hop and alternative rock are dead. Surely those commentators don’t hold the mortality of jazz to a different standard.

The Magic Jazz Fairy giggled with sarcasm. Oh well, it smiled, those commentators must have missed the article in the newspaper.

The winged being turned its attention back to jazz. It understood the scene holds room for improvement. Jazz will never again thrive here as it did in the 1930s, of course. But Kansas City could support a jazz supper club, as do Denver and Seattle. And this city’s heritage demands a major festival to compliment or supplement the pair of not-so-major events the metropolitan area currently hosts each fall.

But, the Magic Jazz Fairy mused, young talent continues to emerge. And Kansas City supports a culture of jazz greater than other communities its size.

It stopped on a rooftop and pulled those large wings back for a moment’s rest. It broke out a cigar. Striking a match on the roof, it lit the cigar then puffed then sighed.

This wasn’t always the case. But being Kansas City’s Magic Jazz Fairy these days, it realized, was not a bad gig.

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