A correction: Steven Lambert – Quartet and Trio…LIVE! was recorded at The Broadway Jazz Club, not at Green Lady Lounge. So as you read the reviews that follow, please keep in mind that these albums prove at least two KC jazz clubs are exemplary sites to record a CD. And to enjoy outstanding jazz.
Two new CDs come with three points in common: Dominque Sanders, Ryan Lee,and the Green Lady Lounge.
Steven Lambert – Quartet and Trio…LIVE! and Paul Shinn Trio – Easy Now: Live at the Green Lady Lounge were both recorded just as the title of Shinn’s CD describes it. Green Lady Lounge is well known as one of the most perfect atmospheres for jazz, where stepping through the door feels as if Mr. Peabody’s Way Back Machine (any fan of Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons will surely remember that) has brought you to 1940s Kansas City. But most nights you need to sit close to the band to appreciate the music. I’d never have expected this venue could give birth to a technically magnificent recording, shedding all of the ambient noise. But here’s two albums that prove it can.
These albums prove something more: Some of the best young musicians performing jazz today reside in – or often return to – Kansas City.
That’s not news to anyone frequenting KC’s jazz scene for the last half dozen years. But both of these albums bring a maturity to the music, built with experience and with the familiarity of musicians playing together repeatedly over time.
I’ve heard Lambert through these years perform the gamut of jazz, from standards behind singer Megan Birdsall, to big band hits with the Foundation 627 Big Band and Bobby Watson’s big band, to be-bop that caught the attention of Marilyn Maye’s drummer at the 2013 Prairie Village Jazz Festival with the Mutual Musicians Foundation All Stars, to the music of Lennie Tristano in Sam Wisman’s group Crosscurrent, to jazz as modern as it gets with the KC Sound Collective.
Lambert is joined by Ouellette on piano and keyboard, Sanders on bass and Lee on drums. Everyone has a chance to shine: Ouellette’s solo on For You stands out, as do Sanders and Lee on Children of the Night. But more importantly, this is a group of musicians who know and drive each other. There’s an integrated sophistication here that’s sometimes lacking in modern jazz.
And as much as Shinn’s piano excels, Ryan Lee’s drums and Dominique Sanders’s bass are vital. Sanders starts a conversation with the piano then carries it back and forth on Ton of Simple, before joining Lee in laying the perfect base for Shinn’s compelling improvisation. Drums and bass add a uniquely intricate depth to A Desolate Cath. On this CD, we’re eavesdropping on conversations between musicians who instinctively understand each other. And, with Paul Shinn in control, the conversations are complete delights.
Steven Lambert – Quartet and Trio…LIVE! and Paul Shinn Trio – Easy Now: Live at the Green Lady Lounge make one more point eminently clear: You can hear some outstanding jazz at the Green Lady Lounge.
Steven Lambert – Quartet and Trio…LIVE! can be found on CD Baby here, on CD Universe here, and on iTunes here. Paul Shinn Trio – Easy Now: Live at the Green Lady Lounge can be found on CD Baby here, on CD Universe here, and on iTunes here.