Monday, December 22, 2014

Snapshots of 2014, Part 1

Quotes from posts this year:


It was a glimpse at the potential of the new Broadway Jazz Club. Its location is in a part of town that KC jazz fans have not been asked, for many years, to consider. The club’s challenge is convincing everyone to come on down and sample the inviting atmosphere, the solid staging and sound, and the good food and drinks. If word builds that nights like this are what you’re missing, that challenge becomes considerably easier to conquer.


I’d come from Jazz Winterlude at Johnson County Community College. But this night I also wanted to see singer Dionne Jeroue at The Broadway Jazz Club. I’ve heard her several times in Everette DeVan’s Tuesday jams at The Phoenix, and I’ve been taken by her exceptional voice. But those are Everette’s jams. I wanted to hear her leading her own group.

Dionne is young and gaining experience in commanding a stage. Her voice is exceptional, smooth yet bold with a punch at the right spots, on jazz standards, pop hits and Motown classics. And there’s charisma on that stage, a sexiness without trying to be sexy, a playfulness exuding joy.,,, But between her vocal talent and presence, Kansas City, this is a singer watch.


I opened my car door.

Suddenly, from across 36th street, a youth, probably in his mid teens, yelled unintelligibly at me and ran towards my car.

I tried to get in and shut the door quickly. If I could just lock the door and start the car, I’d escape him. But the camera pack made sitting in the seat slow and awkward. I slumped in and yanked the car door shut, but the youth was there and pulled the handle from the outside. He was stronger and faster. He opened the door before I could lock it.

“Give me that phone!” he yelled. I didn’t. It was in the hand away from the door. Instinctively, I clasped it tighter.

“Give me the phone!”

Another youth, similar age, ran up from the back of the lot, from Central Street. He stopped at the open car door and looked at me, eyes all open and crazed. He pulled from his pocket what looked like a small gun. He pointed it at my leg, then at my groin, then at my leg.

“Get out!” he demanded.


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.


Bobby Watson on alto sax, Terell Stafford on trumpet, Edward Simon on piano, Essiet Okon Essiet on bass and Victor Lewis on drums reunited on Friday, February 21st at The Blue Room to celebrate 30 years of Bobby Watson and Horizon. You will not find an ensemble where every player knows and responds to each other more instinctively, more naturally, or more imaginatively or more expressively, than this one. The musicians who make up Horizon may have evolved over the years. They may not reunite as an ensemble all that often anymore. But you will not hear five more talented jazz musicians sharing a stage in 2014. This is jazz at another level.


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….

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.


This was for the American Jazz Museum’s PEER Into the Future initiative. PEER is an acronym for the museum’s mission: Performance, Exhibition, Education and Research.

I don’t know if the luncheon was the culmination of a campaign or the entire initiative. But a thank you letter noted that PEER Into the Future 2014 reached its goal of raising $120,000 for general museum operations.

That is impressive. Other jazz organizations could learn from the American Jazz Museum….

The American Jazz Museum isn't ideal. When I walk through, I crave more space and more exhibits. But sixteen years after its opening, nobody else has built a monument to jazz more grand, or more smartly operated. It’s past time to recognize that.


Friday and Saturday, word ricocheted through the jazz community that Dionne [Jeroue] had passed away on Thursday night.

Dionne was a beautiful person, in every sense that description can be taken. When you became her friend, you became her best friend. Between her vivacious personality and extraordinary voice, everyone who heard this sprite knew (really, there was no doubt) that here was a key to carrying jazz forward to an amazingly bright future in Kansas City.

Then Saturday morning, I heard Dionne was gone.

My eyes were moist most of the day.

Saturday, this world made no sense.


It was the happiest room in town, and it was the saddest room in town.

This was a tribute to Dionne Jeroue, the young singer who passed a week and a half earlier, and who was adored by everyone in Kansas City jazz who knew her. This was a celebration of Dionne’s life. Musicians and friends swung at their best. Heads swayed, arms thrust forward in time, bodies twisted to and fro in their seats, people rose and danced.

And tears streamed.


More next week.

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