Hearne: The Somewhat Difficult Straits of Jazz in Kansas City

There’s good news and bad news concerning the state of jazz in Kansas City today….

Mostly bad, actually, but let’s start with what passes for the good. Asked on KCUR FM this week to characterize the state of "modern jazz" here, piano man Mark Lowrey was upbeat…if measured.

"It’s kind of like if a tree falls in a forest kind of deal," the former pizza delivery dude said. "There’s a lot of output but not a lot of support."

As evidenced by the recent closings of both Jardine’s and 1911 Main and the financial woes at the Mutual Musicians Foundation.

In Jardine’s case there’s obviously more to the story, but clearly times have been tough on local jazz. For example Jardine’s owner says she had instituted an across-the-board pay cut last fall for the musicians that performed there – with the lone exception of Stan Kessler‘s band the Sons of Brasil.

Ironically, Kesssler was the one who reportedly called the band boycott of Jardine’s after the owner called the police on his stepson.

Hey, at least things have been colorful.

Meanwhile, Theater League honcho Mark Edelman has been casting about, looking for a full time home for his two year-old syndicated jazz radio show, the 12th Street Jump.

The hour-long program started at the Mutual Musicians Foundation as the 12 O’Clock Jump until a falling out with management over the rent sparked a move to the Downtown Marriott. Hence the name change.

That ground to a halt early last fall owing to the hotel’s remodeling.

A deal fell through to move the live show (which airs Saturdays at midnight on KCUR) to Jardine’s, so Edelman struck a deal with 1911 Main downtown. However that ground to a halt when 1911 closed at year’s end.

Edelman’s show originates now in a studio until a new home can be found.

"We’re looking for another venue," he says. "But I don’t want to jump into something – it’s got to be something that will last.

"The show’s now on eight radio stations around the country and we continue to do it every week. But we’re focussed on the broadcast of it not the live show. That’s the most important thing. I mean, we love playing to a live audience, but the rooms we played hold 60 people, and on the radio we’re playing to a live audience of 2,500 to 3,000 people.

"We call it the 12th Street bump because when you look at the local ratings on KCUR there’s a bump. We think that 300 to 400 people are listening to it here."

In a perfect world, where would Edelman originate the show from?

"You know what would have been a great room is that room that closed at 15th and Walnut. I think it closed. I saw Howard Iceberg there and the Pitch did live concerts in there."

But back to the state of KC jazz…

Owing to Kessler’s band boycott, KC transplant Julia Othmer had to cancel her sold out shows at Jardine’s over the holidays. However Othmer’s about to make good late next month at Nica’s 320, at 320 Southwest Boulevard on Wednesday February 22 and Saturday February 25th.

Could Nica’s become the future home of the 12th Street Jump?

Stay tuned…

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10 Responses to Hearne: The Somewhat Difficult Straits of Jazz in Kansas City

  1. Smartman says:

    Supply and De Man
    OUCH! I can hear the sax solo on Another One Bites The Dust in my mind.

    Is it just me or does Mark Lowrey look like Tim Tebow, tebowing at the piano?

  2. Super Dave says:

    What is jazz! Do we even know for sure?
    Jazz almost defies definition. There are many types and styles of jazz and as we get further and further away from the beginnings of jazz, many elements fuse together to add to the confusion. Jazz was more of a separate entity years ago, but now we have jazz-rock, latin jazz, acid jazz, fusion and several others.

    How jazz is defined depends on whom you talk to. If you were to ask me who or what is jazz I will reply with a simple Louie Armstrong. Perhaps the best response to the question “What is Jazz” was provided by “Pops” himself, Louis Armstrong, who when asked that question said “If you don

  3. Smartman says:

    SUPER Super Dave!
    That was beautiful! Certainly the most poignant and intelligent post on KCC in a while, maybe even a year or two. Not sure I really comprehend what you wrote but I’m gonna cut and paste it and put it my notes file under jazz and use it when I need to pretend I know something about jazz in order to get laid or keep from getting killed.

  4. Orphan of the Road says:

    Jazz & Blues
    Developed a special relationship in Kansas City. It mixed in country & western swing with musicians who played with Bob Willis and other times with Count Basie. Jazz is the only truly American music.

    But I can only take it in small doses. It is like bluegrass in much of the beauty is in the stylings. Bluegrass seems to be as many notes as fast as you can. Jazz is the same but if you make a mistake you repeat it in rote. Clear as mud, right?

    KC can probably support one classy jazz venue to draw the fans. Or you mix it up.

    Once walked in on Billy Cobham receiving “appreciation” from a fan in the men’s room of the club. Exited quickly and Billy later caught me and apologized. But said she really wanted to show me how much she appreciated my music.

  5. David says:

    Told the story one too many times
    What Hearne fails to leave out everytime that he tells the “called the cops on Stan’s stepson” story is that the newly fired employee was trying to convince her that she needed to seek treatment and refused to just walk away as she was not in a state of mind to be making major business decisions. There was also hope that the KCPD would see the state she was in and encourage her to do the same. This is a BS story and sheds a great deal of light on the situation. The people she fired and has screwed over in the past wanted to help her to get the help she needs. Hearne is just adding the spin to enable her longer.

  6. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    That guy at the piano looks like he’s asleep…which is exactly what jazz does to me. Jazz? There’s a reason it has two z’s in it’s name. Cause you’ll be asleep after 15 minutes of it. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…………………

  7. emik says:

    reply to gwswot
    I understand what you are saying about music with two consecutive zs. I always fall asleep when I hear ZZ Top or Ozzy Osbourne!

  8. Mary says:

    emik
    Hey, don’t dis ZZ Top or Ozzy!!! And, GWSWOT, don’t dis the jazz either!!! The WORST music… anything that uses a drum machine or other fake ” instruments”, and/or the stupid female pop “divas” who have to use auto-tune.

  9. emik says:

    reply to mary
    What is wrong with fake instruments? Real instruments are outdated. Do you still use a sliderule? Autotune is a great thing! It opens up pop music stardom to more people!

  10. Jazz Zombie says:

    This says more about Hearne than Jazz…
    Hearne you don’t know what you’re talking about when it comes to Stan. This post makes you look bad, not him. First of all….David is exactly right and second Stan did all he could to get musicians to give Beena the benefit of the doubt until all hope was lost. If times are so tough, as you assert, does it make sense that one trumpet player could trick every musician in KC to sacrifice gigs/money? I’ve told friends who asked about this situation that everything everyone is saying on both sides is true. The servers were drinking after hours (Beena used to encourage and participate in this, btw) and Beena is a hardworking, well-meaning, but troubled woman who needs help….not a Jazz Club.

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