Spotlight on Our Sponsors
This month, we inaugurate a feature on the folks who make JAM and the Jazz Ambassadors possible. We invite you to join these Jazz Ambassadors at ww.kcjazzambassadors.org at whatever level you feel comfortable contributing.
You see them everywhere—at jazz clubs, concerts, fund-raising events and jazz discussions. Sarah and Jim Weitzel grew up in the Washington, DC suburbs, where they tuned in to AM radio disc jockey Felix Grant as pre-teens. Grant spun platters and, interviewed jazz artists. The radio program introduced Sarah and Jim to Stan Getz, Charlie Byrd, Charlie Parker, Dave Brubeck, Gerry Mulligan, Ella Fitzgerald, Dexter Gordon, Erroll Garner, and many others. Who knew that years later, the couple’s love of jazz would become one of the reasons they got married?
Kansas City was lucky to nab them. Now retired, Jim and Sarah endowed a Jazz Studies scholarship at the UMKC Conservatory to honor fellow “retirees” Bobby and Pamela Baskin-Watson. Like Bobby and Pamela, they are now busier than ever, supporting jazz artists and clubs around town.
The Weitzel’s favorite recording artists include Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Horace Silver, Joe Pass, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, Randy Weston, Ahmad Jamal, Art Blakey, Astrid Gilberto, Cal Tjader, Paul Desmond and Victor Provost.
Their list of KC jazz favorites runs long and deep and includes—besides Bobby and Pamela Baskin-Watson, includes— Stanton Kessler, Deborah Brown, Ben Leifer, Eddie Moore, Roger Wilder, Danny Embrey, Rod Fleeman, Matt Hopper, Zach Morrow, Everett Freeman, Marcus Lewis, Jeff Harshbarger, Mark Lowrey, Steve Lambert, Challis O’Neal, Brad Cox, Lisa Henry, Gerald Dunn, Rich Wheeler, Kim Park, Matt Otto, Ryan J. Lee, Clint Ashlock, Eboni Fondren, and Michael Warren.
The couple’s favorite jazz haunts include the Blue Room, the Folly Theater and the Gem Theater at 18th and Vine.
When asked about how Kansas City could better support its jazz scene, the Weitzel’s have some suggestions. They say, “Promote jazz with the youth by supporting musicians to play and teach jazz history in the schools and in other venues open to youngsters.” They would create more scholarships for the UMKC Conservatory Jazz Studies program, and Jim, a former board member of AJM, encourages everyone to “support the American Jazz Museum by sponsoring an annual Jazz Musician of the year event, a jazz festival that includes both national and local artists, and dedicated space at the new KCI terminal for live jazz performances.”
And finally, JAM asked, “What do the Weitzel’s, two pillars of our jazz community expect Kansas City jazz to look like in ten years? Their answer, “That’s for the younger generations to decide,” they wisely defer.