Where Is The Damn Jazz?!
Welcome to Kansas City
With more fountains than Rome, and more boulevards than Paris, Kansas City is a sprawling metro of over 135 acres that twist and turn between both Kansas and Missouri respectively. From national sports teams like the dominating Royals to the record-breaking sounds emitting from Arrowhead Stadium when the Chiefs play, to the building crowds for The Wizards.
Kansas City is much more alive than it was ten years ago.
Its rich heritage and history is full of rebellions, a famous president, mobsters, battles and wars, segregation, and a self revival. It is known for its gorgeous landscape, barbecue, and wait a second…where is the damn Jazz!!!
Once a mecca for all things Jazz, Kansas City has steadily lost that title, and it seems like The City doesn’t even notice it is slowly fading away. Sure, there is jazz music still being heard in the city; but like real Hip-Hop, it has gone back underground from which it came. Like all good music, it never dies, it continues to breathe in dwellings, local nightclubs, and restaurants in various districts; yet there is no Jazz music being played on any radio station unless it is streamed online. For a city known for discovering and cultivating some legendary and iconic players in the game, such as Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Herschel Evans, Walter Page, Coleman Hawkins, Jay Mcshann, Benny Moten, Pat Metheny, and Mary Lou Williams; to name a few.
Once a town known for more sin than Paris, Kansas City seems to have buried its legacy of jazz with the associations that came with it from the ‘30s during the Pendergast days. When native filmmaker Robert Altman released his personal film Kansas City, a film depicting the jazz era of the time, you’d think the revitalization of the legendary 18th & Vine district (which still boasts the backdrop from the aforementioned movie) wold have built more interest into the genre. Unfortunately, it only built a coterie that lingers in dwellings to the initiated and in-the-know. Still no airplay.
In the days of Prohibition, jazz musicians were birthing new styles and developing their craft. Kansas City, with all of its creative juices and distinguished artists could rebuild on that timeless legacy by not just recognizing the past accomplishments; but furthering it by embracing the future in instrumentation and the new future beat. Regardless, the groove will remain, whether mainstream or in the underground.
Peace, Love, and Harmony.