We could use more events like the Prairie Village Jazz Festival, which returns on Saturday, Sept. 9. Other communities would do well to borrow its recipe: Place well-selected jazz artists onstage in public park on sunny day, invite audience to bring lawn chairs, enjoy until after sun goes down.
The idea is simple, but making a festival happen in real life isn’t that simple, of course, so all propers to Prairie Village for making it happen again this year. And we should give much credit to those who shaped this year’s lineup, headlined by singer Oleta Adams, the soul-jazz balladeer whose quiet fire burns just as warmly now as it did when she made her platinum album in 1990.
The rest of Saturday’s well-chosen lineup:
▪ 3:30 p.m.: The Shawnee Mission East Blue Knights jazz band.
▪ 4 p.m.: The Project H, trombonist Ryan Heinlein’s long-running venture making individual but accessible original music that grooves like crazy.
▪ 5:20 p.m.: Bram Wijnands Swingtet. Pianist Wijnands is an authority on pre-modern jazz styles and a rare practitioner of the physically demanding art of stride piano, where the left hand pumps out every beat. There’s nothing else in town that sounds like his group.
▪ 6:30 p.m.: Sax and Violins: Bassist Gerald Spaits mates his jazz quartet to a classical string quartet and really makes it work.
▪ 7:40 p.m.: Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle: More dreamy, grooving music from pianist Moore, whose KC-based band has an ever-growing national profile.
▪ 9 p.m.: Oleta Adams. The group Tears for Fears discovered her performing in Kansas City and kicked off a chain of events that led to Adams’ durable hit “Get Here.” Rest assured that she’s still deeply connected to the KC area. Though her local performances aren’t frequent, every one is a celebration.
The festival is at Harmon Park at 77th and Mission Road, the park with the big water tower. Admission to the festival is $5, free for kids under 18. Bring a blanket or lawn chair, but don’t bring food or beverages. And please leave the dog at home.
▪ Can we overstress Charlie Parker’s importance to the world outside Kansas City? On Aug. 29, the 97th anniversary of his birth, he was the subject of a piece in The New York Times opinion section, “Charlie Parker and the Meaning of Freedom,” written by American Enterprise Institute president Arthur C. Brooks.
▪ The People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City, directed by Brad Cox, performs at 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 3, at the RecordBar, 1520 Grand Blvd.
▪ Pianist and singer Candace Evans is featured on the next show in the Spirituality and All That Jazz series, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6, at the Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 W. 47th St.
▪ The Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., has singer Dave Rizer leading the Monday jam at 7 p.m. on Sept. 4; singer and multi-instrumentalist Lester “Duck” Warner at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7; and Danny Embrey’s Enormous Guitar at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8.
▪ The Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., has pianist Michael Pagán’s trio at 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 3, followed by percussionist John Kizilarmut’s quartet at 10:30 p.m.; guitarist Matt Hopper’s trio at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 4, followed by Max Groove’s organ trio at 10:30 p.m.; Hopper’s Agora band at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, followed by organist Chris Hazelton’s trio at 10:30 p.m.; organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, followed by sax man Todd Wilkinson in an organ trio at 10:30 p.m.; Lovern’s trio at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7, followed by keyboardist Matt Villinger’s trio at 10:30 p.m.; pianist Tim Whitmer’s quartet at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, followed by singer Molly Hammer at 8:30 p.m. downstairs and tenor saxophonist Stephen Martin’s quintet at 10 p.m. upstairs; and pianist Roger Wilder and singer Lisa Henry at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, May 9, followed by OJT at 6 p.m., organist Mitch Towne’s trio at 9 p.m. downstairs and Martin’s quartet at 10:30 p.m. upstairs.
▪ Meanwhile, next door, the Black Dolphin, 1813 Grand Blvd., has the Sons of Brasil at 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 3; A La Mode at 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 4; and The Project H at 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9.
Joe Klopus, 816-234-4751