We can always use a big public celebration of jazz. So we need more events like Saturday’s Prairie Village Jazz Festival.
This year’s edition continues the proud line of the first few Prairie Village Jazz Festivals, begun in 2010. It’s headlined by two singers with deep KC roots who hold their own all over the globe: Deborah Brown and Kevin Mahogany.
To make the mixture burn even more brightly, add two internationally known horn players to Brown’s set: tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano and trumpeter Terell Stafford. Throw in a lineup of many of the best players this town has to offer, and you have a great jazz deal.
Here’s the full lineup:
2:10 p.m.: Shawnee Mission East Blue Knights, directed by Kim Harrison.
3 p.m.: The Project H, trombonist Ryan Heinlein’s alternative-jazz project, back from a hiatus with a new determination and a new CD.
4:10 p.m.: Singer Shay Estes with guitarist Rod Fleeman and tenor saxophonist Matt Otto, some of the strongest musical personalities this town has.
5:20 p.m.: Jazz Disciples plus Jason Goudeau and Stephanie Moore. The Disciples, co-led by sax man Gerald Dunn and pianist Everett Freeman, are frequently heard tearing it up at the Blue Room. Trombonist Goudeau and singer Moore complement them perfectly.
6:30 p.m.: Bram Wijnands Swingtet. It bears saying again: Nobody else around here does quite what old-school stride pianist Wijnands does.
7:40 p.m.: Kevin Mahogany with Joe Cartwright Trio. There aren’t that many male jazz singers working on the international scene, but Mahogany, a former Kansas Citian, is in the top ranks. This time, he’s back home to jam with some old friends.
9 p.m.: Deborah Brown with Joe Lovano and Terell Stafford. Brown is a Kansas Citian who’s better-known in Europe than she is stateside. So we don’t get all that many opportunities to hear this great bebop artist on her home turf. If you don’t know about her already, you’ve got a pleasant surprise coming.
As for the instrumentalists: Brown has been friends with leading tenor saxophonist Lovano for decades, and both of them were thrilled to be offered this chance to jam together. Add trumpeter Stafford, mainstay of Bobby Watson’s Horizon band and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, and it just looks and sounds even better.
The festival is in Harmon Park at 77th Street and Mission Road. For the first time, there’s an admission charge, but it’s only $5 for adults (kids free), with proceeds to Heartland Habitat for Humanity. No coolers and no dogs, please.
Back in the swing
There’s one other return to celebrate: the opening of the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra’s new season. The region’s premier big band is looking ahead with this show, celebrating the present and future of Kansas City jazz along with the past. The presentation, called “Kansas City Is Jazz,” puts a series of high-powered guests in front of the high-powered band.
The 17-piece orchestra, directed by Clint Ashlock, celebrates the whole spectrum of our town’s jazz scene with walk-ons by alto saxophonists Bobby Watson, Dan Thomas and Allie Burik; singer Megan Birdsall; tenor saxophonists Steve Lambert and Matt Otto; and trumpeters Hermon Mehari and Al Pearson. Ashlock contributes a new arrangement of Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation.”
The Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., has singer and multi-instrumentalist Lester “Duck” Warner and his Warner Project at 7 p.m. Thursday, tenor saxophonist Matt Otto’s quintet at 8:30 p.m. Friday and singer Ida McBeth at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. The Jazz Disciples run the Monday jam at 7 p.m.
Highlights at the Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., include vibraphonist Peter Schlamb’s trio at 9 p.m. Thursday; the Boogaloo 7 at 10 p.m. Friday; organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 10 p.m. Saturday and 9 p.m. Wednesday; and the Foundation 627 Big Band at 8 p.m. Sunday.
Highlights at the Broadway Jazz Club, 3601 Broadway, include “vintage pop” duo Victor and Penny at 7 p.m. Friday, singer Kelley Gant at 7 p.m. Saturday, singer/songwriter Barclay Martin with Shay Estes at 6 p.m. Tuesday and the vocal group Book of Gaia at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Take Five Coffee + Bar, 5336 W. 151st St. in Leawood, has a CD release project for the Project H disc “We Live Among the Lines” at 8 p.m. Friday and bassist Bob Bowman’s Bowdog band at 8 p.m. Saturday, featuring keyboardist Wayne Hawkins in one of his final gigs before he moves to New York.
The Vine Street Rumble big band, re-creating the sound of Kansas City in the 1930s, performs at 8 p.m. Friday on the Mid-America Arts Alliance Live in the Crossroads series, in the parking lot across from the alliance’s headquarters at 2018 Baltimore Ave.
The People’s Liberation Big Band, directed by Brad Cox, performs its “year in review” show to celebrate six years of the alternative-jazz series at the RecordBar. The band’s engagement there has helped to create more than 60 pieces, Cox says. The show is at 8:30 p.m. Sunday at the RecordBar, 1020 Westport Road.