Monday, February 24, 2014

Everette's Disciples

It’s possible that nobody in the Kansas City jazz community has more friends than Everette DeVan.

Start with his command of the Hammond B3 organ, a one of a kind sound, unmatched in jazz and mastered by few. Everette’s decades of swinging Kansas City jazz and soulful blues ranks him as one of the most popular and in-demand jazz musicians in KC.

Add his weekly jam sessions at The Phoenix. More often than not, they fill that club with fans.

Now consider some of the female vocalists Everette has mentored: Lisa Henry, Lori Tucker, Millie Edwards, Sharon Thompson, Christy Meinhardt, Eboni Fondren, and currently Dionne Jeroue and Kelley Gant. Consider, too, some of the instrumentalists he has brought along: organist Chris Hazelton, guitarist Matt Hopper, drummer Danny Rojas, saxophonist Matt Carrillo.

It’s a compilation of some of the most remarkable talent to play a part in Kansas City jazz, an all-star list of who’s who and who-is-going-to-be.

Everette suffered two small strokes recently. Tonight (Monday, February 24th), at The Broadway Jazz Club, 3601 Broadway, Dionne Jeroue and Eboni Fondren host a benefit to raise money to help one of Kansas City’s favorite musicians with his expenses. Come and you’ll see what I mean about the breadth of Everette’s friends. A list released a week ago already named over 40 musicians planning to perform. Green Lady Lounge is closing tonight to direct fans to this benefit. It starts at 7 p.m. and runs to 1 a.m.

But if you can’t be there, or are reading this after this benefit has ended, your help is still welcome. Donations can be made at the Everette DeVan Fund page at . That’s a link. Click on it now to donate.

Below, you’ll see some of Everette’s disciples – all of whom will perform tonight – who sat in for him last Wednesday at The Broadway Jazz Club. The night was to be Everette’s gig. Instead, it showcased a sampling of some of the amazing talent Everette DeVan has mentored, and will continue to mentor, into Kansas City’s jazz scene.

You’ll hear even more of Everette’s disciples tonight.

Wednesday’s core quartet. Left to right: Chris Hazelton on keyboards (sounding just like a Hammond B3), Danny Rojas on drums, Dionne Jeroue, vocals, Matt Hopper on guitar.

Singer Dionne Jeroue

The ensemble was joined by singer Kelley Gant

Chris Hazelton on keyboards

Danny Rojas on drums

Danny and Dionne enjoy Chris’s solo

Kelley sings while Danny drums

Matt Hopper on guitar

Dionne and Matt

Unlike the others on stage, I don’t believe Ian Corbett is one of Everette’s disciples. But his alto sax was a wonderful addition to the evening.

Kelley Gant sings

Dionne Jeroue, an organizer of tonight’s benefit and who, along with Kelley, is one of Everette’s newest disciples.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Saturday at Jazz Winterlude

Saturday, surely, was considered a solid success.

World music was a new addition to 2014’s Jazz Winterlude at Johnson County Community College, and I’m not sure organizers really knew what kind of reception to expect for it. But throughout the day, crowds streamed out the door and overflowed the Carlsen Center’s Recital Hall where the world music ensembles entertained.

Meanwhile, audiences filled the majority of seats in the next door Polsky Theatre for jazz.

And Saturday night, Yeardley Hall looked mighty close to sold out for Arturo Sandoval and opener Book of Gaia.

I couldn’t be in every theater for every show. My goal was to photograph examples of the full spectrum of the day’s music. Samples of each are below. As always, clicking on a photo should open a larger version of it.

KC Sound – fromerly KC Sound Collective – in Polsky Theatre. Left to right: Andrew Oullette on piano, Dominque Sanders on bass, Brad Williams on drums, Steve Lambert on tenor sax, Hermon Mehari on trumpet.

Steve Lambert and Hermon Mehari

Dominique Sanders and Brad Williams

Guitarras Ibericas in the Recital Hall featured musicians familiar to the KC jazz community. Left to right: Beau Bledsoe, Jordan Shipley, Michael McClintock.

Beau Bledsoe

Jordan Shipley

Michael McClintock

Guitarras Ibericas was joined by vocalist Karim Memi

The Beach Nuts, back in Polsky Theatre. Left to right: Rod Fleeman on guitar, Jurgen Welge on drums, Walter Bryant on keyboards.

Saturday night opened with Book of Gaia

The front line of Book of Gaia sings to Yeardley Hall. Left to right: Angela Hagenbach, Pam Baskin-Watson, Nedra Dixon.

Eddie Moore on piano

Also in Book of Gaia: Karita Carter on trombone, Tyrone Clark on bass and (not pictured) Mike Warren on drums.

Saturday night's headliner: Arturo Sandoval

Arturo Sandoval on trumpet

Sandoval having fun on percussion

Arturo Sandoval

Monday, February 10, 2014

Friday Night at Jazz Winterlude

I remember the first one. I was working the box office as a volunteer, and thanks to a snowstorm people were calling to see if there was still a festival. There was.

That was five years ago. Last month, performance halls were largely filled – in some cases, crammed and overflowing – for Johnson County Community College’s 2014 Jazz Winterlude.

Saturday started with four hours of free local acts in the Carlsen Center’s Polsky Theatre (jazz) and Recital Hall (world music). Organizers will need to find a bigger auditorium for world music next year. Ever see sixty-somethings fight over seats to a concert? I did.

Saturday night concluded with Book of Gaia then Arturo Sandoval packing Yardley Hall. I’ll offer photos from Saturday next week.

Friday night, January 24th, opened in Polsky Theatre with the Doug Talley Quintet playing the music of Wayne Shorter and concluded with headliner Terri Lynne Carrington playing music from her CD tribute to “Money Jungle”. Two nights later, she would win a Grammy award for the album.

Photos from Friday are below. As always, clicking on a photo should open a larger version.

Doug Talley Quintet

David Aaberg on trumpet and Doug Talley on sax

Keith Kavanaugh on drums and David Aaberg

Wayne Hawkins on piano

Tim Brewer on bass

David Aaberg on trumpet

Doug Talley and Tim Brewer

Terri Lynne Carrington

Terri Lynne Carrington

Gerald Clayton on piano

Tia Fuller on saxophone and Gerald Clayton

Terri Lynne Carrington on drums

Nir Felder on guitar

Terri Lynne Carrington drums

Zach Brown on bass

Tia Fuller and Terri Lynne Carrington

Gerald Clayton

Terri Lynne Carrington in Polsky Theatre

Monday, February 3, 2014

Friday, When I Returned to The Broadway Jazz Club

Not two hours after last week’s blog post went online, Broadway Jazz Club owner Neil Pollock phoned me. I’d never met him. A mutual friend had given me his number, and I intended to call him later in the day. I was surprised and impressed that he found my phone number and reached out so quickly.

Neil wanted to insure I was okay and hear more details on the attack in the club’s parking lot the previous weekend. The club, he said, would immediately add a security guard to the lot on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. And if a guest wants to be escorted back to their car, just ask.

Later in the day, building owner Greg Patterson also phoned. He noted that in nine years of owning property in that area, he had seen little crime and nothing like this.

My day job entails dealing with vendors. I learned long ago that a key to separating good businesses from bad ones is how they respond to a problem.

The Broadway Jazz Club responded impressively. I didn’t expect anybody to call me but I’m grateful that they did. The addition of the security guard goes a long way towards relieving perceived uncertainties over the neighborhood.

I believe them when they tell me crime has not been an issue at 36th and Broadway. Greg has owned property there far longer than I’ve paid attention to the area. But this club cannot escape comparisons to Jardine’s, and its  Broadway neighborhood bears a rougher edge than just-off-The-Plaza. Correct or not, that impression was going to have to be overcome.

I continue to compare Broadway Jazz Club's situation to R Bar. R Bar was a wonderful restaurant with live jazz in the West Bottoms. But the Golden Ox’s days as a Bottoms destination had passed, Kemper Arena sat as a neighboring hulk, and driving into the area felt too adventuresome for the type of customer who would spend well on dinner and drinks. R Bar was never able to overcome its neighborhood and is gone.

Seeing a security guard adds a bundle of confidence to crossing The Broadway Jazz Club’s parking lot.

So does a crowd.


I’d planned to return to the club the next Friday, to hear Megan Birdsall.

When I was mugged on Brush Creek Boulevard (just-off-The-Plaza isn’t really as safe as its image) maybe 30 years ago, I carried anger over the incident with me for a long time. But this time, writing last week’s blog post proved cathartic. This time, I’m not angry.

Emotionally, I could go.

Freezing drizzle fell during Friday’s rush hour. News alerts popped up on my phone warning about crashes everywhere. The Accuweather app’s forecast showed drawings of ice falling from the sky starting at 9 p.m. I didn’t need to get out in that. The Weather Channel app instead predicted snow at 11.

But I wanted to go. I wanted to go as much to prove to myself that I was right, that emotionally I could go, as to hear jazz.

No ice fell. By 10 p.m. the Accuweather app replaced the ice illustrations with pictures of snow at midnight. The Weather Channel app agreed. I headed to my car.

Traffic was light. Accuweather must have scared a bunch of people that evening, I thought.

But as I turned into The Broadway Jazz Club’s parking lot, I was surprised to find it nearly filled. I took the last spot.

I walked into the club. It was filled with more people than I'd seen there on any previous visit. Every seat at the bar was filled. I took a table beside the bar.

Megan sang, I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby. And I looked out on a club full of happy people. Most were listening, some chatted, some ate, most drank. Not every table was filled. But when Neil phoned the previous Monday, he said crowds had been growing week by week. I was seeing that.

Every club develops its own personality. The Broadway Jazz Club is still young, but it’s growing up right. The feeling Friday night was one of being among jazz-loving friends. This is more Cheers Plus Jazz than Jardine’s. Never mind the neighborhood outside the windows. A security guard and escort if you ask will handle that. Inside, I’m Norm.

The Blue Room is Kansas City’s most honored jazz club at our most historic intersection, with some stellar performances – Deborah Brown, Bobby Watson and Horizon – you will not hear at any other KC club. Stepping into the Green Lady Lounge is like stepping back in time, into a classic jazz club (though on weekends you should claim a seat near the band if you want to hear it). At The Majestic, you’re in a speakeasy and you know it, while Take Five feels like hearing a jazz ensemble in your living room.

The Broadway Jazz Club is properly addressing concerns while growing into what’s starting to feel like Cheers Plus Jazz, and a nice dinner.

When I left, I walked to the space in the back of the lot where I’d parked. After my experience the week before, the club insisted on escorting me. I wiped some snow from the car (the Weather channel app had it right all along). I drove home.

There were no incidents.

I kind of like feeling like Norm.