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!


Skip to content