April is nationally recognized as Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM). As one of the cradles of jazz, there’s no better place to celebrate than Kansas City! If you’re looking for ways to salute Kansas City jazz, visit the American Jazz Museum during the month of April. Featured performances will take place in the Blue Room and Gem Theater all month long!
Anat Cohen Tentet | Musical Director, Oded Lev-Ari
Saturday, April 7th at 8:00 pm
Gem Theater, $45
With The Anat Cohen Tentet, woodwind virtuoso Anat Cohen brings audiences an evocative and exciting experience centered around the clarinet. Both on stage and on Cohen’s release, Happy Song, the Tentet weaves a tapestry of sounds, freeing Cohen to explore the full range of the clarinet’s dynamics and demonstrate its vastly expressive character. As JazzTimes says, “With the clarinet she becomes a singer, a dancer, a poet, a mad scientist, laughing – musically – with the sheer delight of reaching that new place, that new feeling, with each chorus.” The Tentet’s repertoire draws on Anat’s diverse musical loves, from Brazilian music to African grooves, and from vintage swing to touching ballads. Above all, Happy Song is another synergistic collaboration between Anat and co-producer/co-arranger Oded Lev-Ari, who is her partner in Anzic Records and who has been a kindred spirit since their high school days in Israel.
The perennial winner of “Clarinetist of the Year” titles from DownBeat, JazzTimes, and the Jazz Journalists Association, Fresh Air’s Terry Gross credits Cohen with “bringing the clarinet to the world” and The New York Times hails her a “Master.”
Friday, April 13th at 8:30 pm
Blue Room, $10
Hermon Mehari’s debut album as a leader, Bleu, marks a new era in his career. The music covers both the ground of his contemporaries and his own original music in such a way to illustrate his current musical path. Bleu includes ECM recording artist Aaron Parks on piano, Blue Note recording artist Logan Richardson on alto saxophone, Peter Schlamb on vibraphone, Ryan J. Lee on drums and Rick Rosato on bass.
Mehari was the recent winner of the 2015 Carmine Caruso International Trumpet Competition and a semifinalist in the 2014 Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition. In 2014 he released the CD Our Journey with Diverse, his second with the group.
Mehari maintains a touring schedule around the world with his own group and as a sideman. He has performed professionally with noted saxophonists Jaleel Shaw, Logan Richardson, Bobby Watson, Ben Van Gelder, and Tivon Pennicott. Mehari received his BM in Jazz Performance from the University of Missouri – Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance in 2010. In addition to performing, he dedicates himself to being a serious educator and has participated in clinics and panels around the world.
CD Release Party: Charles Williams & Genre
Saturday, April 14th at 8:30 pm
Blue Room, $10
Charles Williams is a native of Kansas City, Kansas. He has played piano for over 40 years. Today, Williams performs as the pianist for The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra. This orchestra has backed many artists such as, The New York Voices, Wycliffe Gordon, Ernie Andrews, Houston Person, Harold Jones, The Four Freshmen, Randy Brecker, Bobby Watson, Deborah Brown, Kevin Mahogany, and many more. Charles Williams also plays for the Louis Neal Orchestra.
Recently, Charles has launched his newest group, Genre. This ensemble consists of four musicians playing smooth jazz, funk, motown, and many other genres. Musicians in the group are, Larry Thomas on guitar, Justin McCoy on drums, and Blair Bryant on bass. This party celebrates the release of Charles Williams & Genre’s newest CD, Flavors of Jazz.
Brubeck Brothers Quartet
Sunday, April 22nd at 4:00 pm
Blue Room, $20
Chris and Dan Brubeck have been making music together practically all their lives. Drummer Dan and bassist, trombonist, and composer Chris cut their first record together in 1966—nearly a half century ago. They’ve subsequently played a variety of styles in a number of different groups, as well as with their father, jazz giant Dave Brubeck, and with their own Brubeck Brothers Quartet. With Dan and Chris as the foundation, guitarist Mike DeMicco and pianist Chuck Lamb, complete this dynamic quartet. The Quartet’s last CD, LifeTimes, was a hit on the JazzWeek radio chart where it made the Top Ten list as one of the most played jazz recordings of the year.
These versatile musicians also collaborate with orchestras all across the U.S., as well as internationally, including performing with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra and the Russian National Orchestra. With Chris Brubeck’s compositions as a vehicle, the BBQ has joined with chamber groups to collaborate with musicians from the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Russian National Symphony Orchestra.
Although the Quartet’s style is rooted in straight-ahead jazz, their concerts reveal an inherent ability to explore and play odd time signatures while naturally integrating the influences of funk, blues and world music. The group’s creativity, technique and improvisation can be heard in their uncompromising music, which reflects their dedication to melody, rhythm, culture and the spontaneous spirit of jazz.
For a full list of April performances at the American Jazz Museum, visit americanjazzmuseum.org/events