VividVisions: The Business of Jazz Artistry – Live Performances

Moderator: Steve Kraske (KCUR 89.3FM) hosting a panel discussion on the business of jazz artistry.

EVENT DETAILS: 12:00 pm on Friday, November 10, 2023 at the Westport Coffee House for this exciting panel discussion. Bring your thoughts and questions with you! Your ticket includes attendance and lunch. We are planning for an interactive and engaging discussion.

▪Panelist Stanton Kessler

▪Panelist Lonnie McFadden

▪Panelist Chloe McFadden

SESSION 1.3 Live Performances – experienced panelists will discuss viable strategies that they use for booking venues and private events. Sideman work, other genres, weddings, party bands, South Arts jazz road tours and related areas will also be discussed.

Thank you to our sponsors:

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Kansas City’s Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund, Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Performing Arts, Commerce Bank, Trustee

JAZZ MEET UP @ The Lied Center of Kansas presented “Terence Blanchard – Film Scores Live!” 



I have been told that some people can watch a film and never be aware that a musical score is being played alongside the dialog. The truth is that without a musical score the emotional impact of a film would be highly diminished. Film scores elevate the angst, the despair, the hope, the fears, the joy, the sadness, the anticipation of a storyline in ways that dialog alone can never accomplish. 

On Thursday (October 23) evening at the Lied Center of Kansas, the film score was the center of attention. Yes, Terence Blanchard, the composer, was standing front and center with his trumpet and flanked by five members of his E-Collective ensemble. Their presence only visually shielded the audience from the Lawrence Community Orchestra, conducted by Matt Smith, that was nestled further behind them on stage. The orchestra was an equal (and often the primary) musical collaborator with the musicians up front. But again, the star of the evening was the music itself. Even the large screen at the back of the stage, displaying a collage of still images from the films, overlayed with live camera images of the musicians could not successfully draw the audience away from the music.

In the last three decades, Terence Blanchard has composed the scores for a plethora of films. This performance focused on his film collaborations with Spike Lee. The evening opened with the joyful and grooving theme from the 1990 film, Mo Better Blues. From therethe audience was transported on an emotional journey through the themes of Malcolm X, Clockers, Inside Man and 25th Hour. Being a native of New Orleans, Mr. Blanchard’s involvement in the documentary, When the Levees Broke, was of significant importance to him. Music from When the Levees Broke was performed as A requiem in Four Acts, and the high emotion emanating from the music prompted a spontaneous standing ovation by much of the audience after just the first act!

The evening could have successfully ended then, but it didn’t. The emotional journey at the Lied Center continued and closed with the themes from Miracle at St. Anna and BlackkKlansman. The performance served as a reminder of the critical role that the arts play in voicing the stories of the human plight. Now it is time for this reviewer to find and watch the films (while listening to their scores).

Trumpeter, composer and multiple Grammy-winner, Terence Blanchard

With over 75 credits to his name to date, Terence Blanchard, renowned trumpet player and composer, is a true titan in the world of film and television. His major scores include Spike Lee joints such as BlacKkKlansman, Da 5 Bloods, Mo Better Blues and 25th Hour; Kasi Lemmons films such as Eve’s Bayou and Harriet; along with scores for Regina King (One Night In Miami), George Lucas (Red Tails) and Gina Prince (The Woman King). Film Scores Live! showcases the stunning scores and songs from several films, featuring Blanchard’s ensemble, the E-Collective.

The Lied Center of Kansas serves the state’s flagship university, students and the greater community by functioning as a catalyst for the arts, creativity, engagement and community building through the following core activities: Presenting a series of diverse, relevant and world-class artists which activates our community to strengthen its connection with the arts. Constant public feedback and conversation shape the Lied series. Engaging our community through experiential learning in the performing arts and our world by providing opportunities to attend, explore, participate and create. Serving as a communal gathering space for shared experience, connection, conversation and the celebration of achievement.

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JAZZ MEET UP @ “Kansas City Jazz Legends Reunion” at Westport Coffeehouse Theater

ARTICLE AND GIG PHOTOS BY Darrel McKaig, Board Member

You didn’t have to be a jazz musician to get into Westport Coffee House on Sunday evening. If you were not a musician, you were in the minority.

The Chiefs had just won (again) so there was that buzz in the air around Kansas City. For jazz fans the vibrations were just getting started.

Billed as the “Kansas City Jazz Legends Reunion” this event transported me back to my favorite KC jazz venue of the early 1980s, “The Point.”  

Back then, the Kansas City Jazz legends were Milt Abel, Claude ‘Fiddler’ Williams and Carmell Jones, just to name a few.

The musicians on this billing were just the young guys in the 1980s. Not legends yet!

As a young aspiring musician myself, I spent many an evening at “The Point” listening to them make great music …and the Chiefs were not winning as often back then. 

So who are these legends, you ask? They are:

Now living in New York City, Steve Cardenas on guitar, Dave Brandom on saxophone and Ron Vincent on drums.

Steve Million, piano, now lives in Chicago.

Still residing in Kansas City (and we are glad that they are) are Stanton Kessler on trumpet and Gerald Spaits on bass.

I could take up space here listing their pedigrees but I would rather you look them up for yourself (hire them and buy their recordings). 

Each musician contributed two pieces to the evening’s set lists.

Friends and family in attendance at Westport Coffee Houses’s very full black-box theater were treated to primarily original material.

All of it was excellent.

Ok, there was an occasional missed note/or wrong section played (no names, he knows who I’m talking about), but that is part of the charm of live jazz.

This was not an evening of over-played, easy jazz standards. It was all challenging music and watching these old friends pull the best from each other and laugh with each other, was a joy to witness.

Having a room full of KC’s finest jazz musicians probably helped raise the bar as well. I for one hope they don’t wait so long to do it again.

The other heroes of the evening that need to be highlighted are the proprietors of Westport Coffee House, Tom and Pam Ptacek.

On this particular evening, they hosted “Kansas City Jazz Legends.” Other Sunday’s (and the occasional week night) they host both KC’s seasoned jazz veterans and our young and upcoming jazz talent.

Thank you Tom and Pam for your contribution to the KC jazz scene. Subscribe to the Westport Coffee House Facebook page so you don’t miss the next performance. 

The theater at Westport Coffee House has become a great place for jazz in KC. Your first time there it can be a little challenging to find. When entering through the coffee house I still sometimes walk right past the door that leads downstairs to the theater.

Entering through the Green Room next door on this particular evening I had to assure a first-timer that yes, she was at the right place.

It is well worth finding. Come on out and listen to some live jazz.

It is how legends are made!


JAZZ MEET UP @  Second Tuesday KC Bier Co Jazz Jam + Oktoberfest!

Kansas City is having a moment right now. Aside from a certain Championship winning football franchise, you can find an interesting way to spend your time most evenings.

ARTICLE BY: Emily Behrmann, Board of Directors / Treasurer

Great food, well-crafted adult beverages, and incredible art and music are plentiful, with something for just about every taste.

So it’s not surprising to find a jam session featuring some of Kansas City’s best jazz musicians at a German beer hall. 

German-style bier and Kansas City jazz have proven to be a solid combination in this monthly open jam session hosted the second Tuesday of every month.

The jam session traditionally features pianist Bram Wijnands, bassist Rick Willoughby, and a rotating cast of area musicians on horns, guitars, drums — or even spoons — for an exciting night of delicious bier and spontaneous music. 

On a recent evening, Bram (also known as Beetlejuice-with-a-haircut) and Rick hosted not one or two, but six fellow musicians during the three-hour jam, some of whom play professionally all over KC, and others joining in to keep up their playing “chops,” while working other day jobs: John Blegen, clarinet; Clayton Delong, guitar; Gary Leming, trumpet; Matt Purcell, sax; Brian Ruskin, guitar; Joe Straub, bass and piano. What a lineup, performing jazz standards we all know and love.

This jam took place Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. Join the fun any second Tuesday of the month at KC Bier Co! And as they say in Germany, “Prost!” (Cheers!) – Jam Session Photos by Emily Behrmann

NOTE: KC BIER CO also is a participating venue for the annual Spotlight Charlie Parker festivities! Oktoberfest Munich, Germany is the world’s largest celebration of Bavarian culture – the area of Bavaria being the southeast corner of Germany famous for beers, brats, and its use of bustiers. Millions of visitors travel thousands of miles to Munich each year to experience their share of the 2-week long festival. ARTICLE FEATURE PHOTO COURTESY OF OKTOBERFESTTOURS.TRAVEL

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