Monday, October 20, 2014

Kansas City's 18th and Vine Jazz and Blues Festival 2014

The event’s name, Kansas City’s 18th and Vine Jazz and Blues Festival, at nine words, is semi-officially the longest title of any jazz festival anywhere. On Wikipedia’s page of jazz festivals around the world (here) – a listing of hundreds of jazz events – only two others are as long as eight words: the United Kingdom’s Glenn Miller Festival of Swing, Jazz and Jive and Northern Ireland’s City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival. Two are seven words long. The rest run three to six words. Organizers, there’s nothing wrong with a succinct title.

Especially when organizers at the American Jazz Museum present such a stellar music event. Staging and sound at the festival’s three venues clustered around 18th and Vine (the outdoor Main Stage and the indoor Blue Room and Gem Theater) were excellent. The flow through the grounds is well planned and executed. The friendliness and helpfulness of volunteers makes you feel like the event’s most important guest. The assortment of food and other vendors adds a welcome variety that other festivals lack. The one element out of organizers’ control, beautiful fall weather, capped the day.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the photos below of local acts from each of the venues and the jazz and blues headliners on the main stage. As always, clicking on a photo should open a larger version of it.

The main stage with Hearts of Darkness

Hearts of Darkness commands the main stage early in the afternoon

The Groove Axis with Houston Smith on sax in The Blue Room

Book of Gaia. Left to right: Michael Warren on drums, Eddie Moore on piano, D'Andre Manning on bass, Nedra Dixon, vocals, Pam Watson, vocals, Angels Hagenbach, vocals, Karita Carter on trombone.

Book of Gaia in the Gem Theater

The vocalists: Nedra Dixon, Pam Watson and Angela Hagenbach

Blues headliner Lucky Peterson

Lucky Peterson mugging on the main stage

Lucky Peterson, with guitar, leaving the main stage...

...and joining the audience.

Lucky Peterson surrounded by hundreds of fans

Lucky Peterson

Jazz headliner Roy Hargrove. Dig those shoes.

Roy Hargrove enjoys his quintet, with Larry Willis on piano, Justin Robinson on sax, Ameen Saleem on bass and (not seen) Willie Jones III on drums.

Justin Robinson and Roy Hargrove

Unexpectedly, Roy Hargrove sings

Pianist Larry Willis

Roy Hargrove on the main stage

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