Wait, before you answer, two more caveats. Let’s say you’re located in Johnson County. And let’s say putting a 26 foot long stage in a coffee shop establishes you as unconventional.
Now who do you pick?
The People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City. Of course.
Last Saturday night I sat in the new location of Take Five Coffee + Bar with over a hundred other jazz fans, some of whom had heard People’s Lib before and some of whom came to hear a big band thinking that’s what Count Basie ran, right? At my table sat a couple of ladies who fit the latter group. It took a set for them to understand just what this not-your-grandpa’s big band was all about. But by the second set, these ladies were thoroughly enjoying the night.
If you missed the evening, below is a sampling of what a packed coffee house/bar/jazz club at as-suburban-as-this-world-gets 135th and Metcalf in Johnson County, Kansas looks like on its official Saturday night premiere. As always, clicking on a photo should open a larger version of it.
The People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City at the new Take Five Coffee + Bar
Leader Brad Cox directs the band
Shay Estes with James Isaac and Jeff Harshbarger
Matt Otto plays a really big saxophone
Pat Conway joined the band on the second set. After all, how can you baptize a coffee shop/bar/jazz club without a bassoon?
Shay and Jeff sing
James Isaac and, behind him, Sam Wisman
Brad Cox directing The People’s Liberation Big Band
A full house, listening
Brad subtly announces who wrote the next number (he wrote it)
Shay Estes sings
Apparently, Brad Cox zaps Sam Wisman’s drumstick