About Us

Kansas City is, perhaps, best known throughout the world for its unique contribution to music — jazz, which now has become respectable, adopted by symphonies, and taught in conservatories of music. It has taken many forms, but basically it remains the old robust music that reflects the Kansas City spirit.

The Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors, Inc., Incorporated as a 501(c)3 in 1984, was created as part of the Kansas City Jazz Commission by then mayor Richard L. Berkley, and is the city’s oldest nonprofit governed by an operating board of volunteers.

A majority of the proceeds from our fundraising efforts go directly to our Musician’s Assistance Fund (MAF) and the Tommy Ruskin Memorial Scholarship Fund, with a small portion going to help operate the all volunteer non-profit organization.

The MAF is maintained by KCJA to assist all musicians. It is a confidential resource for financial assistance in paying medical bills, housing/living expenses and funerals.

Members

Platinum
  Folly Theater
  Mammoth Inc
  David Basse   
  Merle Stalder

  

Gold 
  Mark Edelman / 12th Street Jump

 

Silver
  Michael White

 

Sponsor
   Bob and Bridget Bagby 
   John and Alice Blegen 
   Carol Blum and Steven Wilson 
   Mark Edelman and Karin Lichterman
   Nelson and Mary Ellen Farney 
   Mike and Debra Gerken 
   Dennis Gredell and Lori Wohlschlaeger 
   Steven and Patty Hargrave 
   Gayle Hobbs   
   Eugene and Sarah Lowry 
   Linda McShann Gerber   
   Edward Morris   
   Jerry Moye   
   Jamie and Alan Myers 
   Loren and Christine Myers 
   Penny Oathout   
   David and Gloria Parsley 
   Stephen Peters   
   Kathryn Price Powell and Timothy Powell 
   Rita Proper   
   Randell Sedlacek and Mary Ventura 
   Fred Slough and Patricia Housh 
   Paul and Sara Smith 
   Suzanne Spencer   
   Robert Thompson and Mary Wurtz 
   Tom and Geri
 

Musician
  T Sharif Abdul-Hakim   
  Gary Cardile   
  P J Churn   
  Kathleen Holeman   
  Jerry Hooper   
  Dale Johnson   
  Herschel McWilliams

Honorary
  Mayor Quinton Lucas
  J P Makus   
  Mike Metheny   
  Kim Parker   
  Blanche Williams   
  Maxine Wright   

Patron & Family
  Chris    
  Melanie and John T Bailey 
  Luise Balfanz and John Sluzalis 
  Dr Beth Bazin and James Buckley
  Lou Curtsinger and Chuck Shelton 
  John Eckardt and Maria Stimach Eckardt 
  Ann Fitzpatrick and Bob Garcia 
  Andrew and Michele Friscia 
  Stephen and Tracie Glasscock 
  Leonard and Barbara Graham 
  Jack and Vickie Hanrahan 
  Bruce and Denise Hedrick 
  B J Jansen and Jenny Zhao 
  Ann Johnson   
  Curtis and Elaine Johnson 
  Arla Jones and Kim Kreicker 
  Earl and Karen Knauss 
  Brett and Joyce Kynard 
  Jennifer Lash and Mike Garrison 
  Sidney Malone and Frances Jones 
  Stephan Mann and Terrell Mann 
  Richard Martin and Helen Seymour 
  Don and Jane McClain 
  Charles and Marada McClintock 
  Sheilah Philip and Robert Hartley 
  Dr Donald and Barbara Potts
  Bill and Denise Quatman 
  Russell and Sylvia Riggs 
  Frank Strada   
  Dale and Vickie Trott 
  Julie Turner Ruskin
  James and Sarah Weitzel 
  Amberina Wicker
  Richard and Kathryn Wood 
  Angela and Nick Wookay 

Individual
  Lynn Abrams   
  Jim Adamson   
  Akers Aitch   
  Don Anderson   
  Barbara Anderson   
  Judy Austin   
  Betty Berry   
  Teresina Bradley   
  Cliff Brisbois, Jr   
  Lynn Burklund   
  Rick Cagan   
  Bob Clark   
  Coby Condrey   
  Clint Cook   
  Dr Gwendolyn Cooke
  Dean Cox   
  Rachelle Craig   
  William DeBauche   
  Alice Diederich   
  Tim Dougherty   
  Walter Draheim   
  Nathaniel Dubose   
  Victoria "Fanny" Dunfee   
  Sandra Eveloff   
  Reginald Greene   
  Carole Harris   
  Darrell Hoffman   
  Lynn Hoover   
  Rik Jackson   
  Marva Johnson   
  Linda Kline   
  Chris Klockau   
  James Kurtz, Jr   
  Marilyn Lewis   
  Jefferson Lewis   
  James Liska   
  John Lust   
  Doreen Maronde   
  Corky McCaffrey   
  Marjorie Meinheit   
  Mike Messick   
  Rosalie Miceli   
  Janet Miller   
  Jay Mowbray   
  William Paprota   
  Doug Pearson   
  Richard Schiavi   
  Nancy Sokol   
  Ron Stowell   
  Dan Sturdevant   
  Yoko Takemura   
  Nancy Trager   
  Alton Waller   
  Byron Webb   
  Grace West   
  Linda Whayne   
  Jared Wittwer   
  Marilyn York   

 

Executive Board Officers

Mark Edelman: President

MARK EDELMAN founded the Theater League, a not-for-profit performing arts organization, in 1976. Since then, the League has presented more than 4,000 performances of over 500 productions throughout the U.S. and Canada, including every major touring Broadway musical from A CHORUS LINE, ANNIE and CATS to MAMMA MIA, LES MISERABLES, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, DISNEY’S THE LION KING and WICKED. More than 40,000 season members and 350,000 patrons attended Theater League presentations each year, making the organization one of the oldest and largest touring Broadway presenters in the nation.

 

Theater League presented annual Broadway musical theater series in eleven communities around the country. An integral part of each of each series was the organization’s Theater ROcKs (Reach Out to Kids) outreach program, which provided educational opportunities for young people. As part of that program, the League supports the Folly Children’s Series in Kansas City. Though the League is no longer involved in the Broadway series presentations, it continues to provide educational outreach in these communities, as well as direct grants to local theater companies from the Coterie and Mesner Puppet Theatre to the Unicorn, KC Actors Theatre and Spinning Tree Theatre, to name a few.

 

            Edelman created and serves as Executive Producer of 12th STREET JUMP, public radio’s weekly jazz, blues and comedy jam, which is heard on fort stations around the country including KCUR, Kansas City Public Media. He is a member of the board of directors of the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, MO. Edelman is a Life Member of the Broadway League and one of the 850 American theater professionals who vote for the Tony awards each year.

 

            A graduate of Washington University in St Louis (B.A. in performing arts, 1972), the University of Missouri-Kansas City (J.D., 1975) and the University of Kansas (Masters in Journalism/Integrated Marketing Communications, 2002), Edelman was a member of A. F. of M. Local 34-627 in his younger days. He studied jazz guitar with the late Don Wensel and  played in the Shawnee Mission East big band The Blue Knights with Doug Auwarter. Mark had the honor of playing bass at the 1968 Charlie Parker Festival at old Municipal Stadium, 23rd and Brooklyn, with KC jazz veterans Tony Swisher, Jack Lightfoot and Gary Cardile.

Stephan Mann: Vice-President
 

Stephan T Mann, retired Deputy Regional Director, U.S. Census Bureau in 2005 after 35 years of federal service. He trained, managed, coordinated, and supervised staff in Washington DC, the continental US plus Alaska and Hawaii in data collection procedures and operations.

A graduate from the University of Minnesota with BS in Business/Accounting. While attending the University of Minnesota , he served on the Student Board of Governors after becoming an export on Roberts Rule of Order and received a student leadership scholarship award.

While living in Kirkland Washington, he helped develop the by-laws for the Kingsgate Condo Association after the developer turned the voting rights over to the owners and served on its first Board of Directors. His carrier with the Census Bureau resulted in six relocations. A transfer to Upper Marlboro, MD (outside of DC) again resulted in a move to a new housing area that was establishing a Homeowner’s Association. Once again Stephan, was elected to serve on the new board of directors.

The Federal Government relocations helped strengthened his parliamentarian skills. His current residence in Shawnee, KS, Hillcrest Farms development, only had 25 completed homes when he moved in.  The salesperson found out he had experience with new Homeowners association. So shortly after moving in he was elected as treasurer for the new HOA. The development now has 335 homes and Stephan served on the HOA board for six years.

Stephan currently serves as a Trustee for the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas. He was re-elected for a second three-year term last October. In addition, he is the treasurer for St Luke’s Episcopal Church Endowment Fund. He helped develop policy guidelines and by-laws in 2011 working with the National Episcopal Church, New York.

Stephan is a member of the Jazz Friends, founded in 2000 to encourage the creative artistry and talent of UMKC Conservatory students and faculty, heighten the eminence of the Conservatory’s Jazz Studies Program and celebrate the legacy of Kansas City jazz. He has been a Jazz Ambassadors member in good standing for more than six years. In addition, he has been a Folly Jazz theater season ticket holder and supporter for more than eight years.

He married Terrell Ellene Nash 44 years ago and has one son and two granddaughters. Stephan enjoys golf and serves as a volunteer at Shawnee Community Center one Saturday a month.

Email Stephan at: stephan@kcjazzambassadors.org

David Basse: Director JAM Magazine

More than a well-known Kansas City jazz vocalist, David Basse has hosted The Jazz Scene on Kansas Public Radio since 2001. In 2010, he became a founding member of the weekly public radio show 12th Street Jump. His latest venture is his own syndicated radio show, Jazz with David Basse. 

 

For the past 25 years, David Basse has been at the forefront of the music scene in Kansas City, taking the torch from such legends as KC Jazz pioneers Charlie Parker, Count Basie and Jay McShann. HIs singing has been compared to Mel Torme, Jon Hendricks and Al Jarreau. Other reviewers have noted elements of Ray Charles and Dr. John in Basse's vocal stylings.

David and his band, The City Light Orchestra, appeared on “Wolf Trap and All That Jazz” and played at the 1997 Inaugural Gala for President Clinton. His rendition of “Strike When the Iron Is Hot” has been featured at Kansas City Chiefs home games.

David has won a Kansas Association of Broadcasters award and KPR’s jazz department won an award from JAZZWEEK for “Best Jazz Station - Small Market.”

Herschel McWilliams: Director of Digital & Social Media Strategy

 

Not only serving KCJA as Director of Digital and Social Media, as well as founder and creator or www.LiveJazzKC.com a, a local website showcasing daily live jazz in Kansas City. Herschel is also a working saxophonist in the Kansas City area, leading his own groups at several local venues and events while also managing his own jazz organization at www.livejazzkc.com , Herschel is a life-long resident of the Kansas City area, born in Kansas City, KS. and eventually settling in Johnson County as a child. He currently resides in Shawnee with his wife Rebecca and their 4 children (Harrison, Benjamin, Vivian, and Christian). Herschel works as Director of Business Development for a local automotive group with many years experience in automotive retail management and marketing. 

His earliest influence in jazz music was listening to albums of his parents, whom are both musicians (Weather Report, Return to Forever, and some big bands etc..) before joining his middle school jazz band. He credits his love for jazz to the incredible educators he encountered along the way such as Doug Talley, Kerry Strayer, Marlin Cooper, Chuck Jarrett and most of all Penny Snead (at Shawnee Mission North High School). Herschel looks forward to being involved with the growth of KCJA and progressing their agenda through increased awareness and building strategic relationships in the community.

Email Herschel at: hmcwilliams@kcjazzambassadors.org

Lynn Abrams: Director of Membership

 

Lynn was born & raised in suburban Kansas City. She grew up listening to jazz greats like Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, Thelonius Monk, and so many more, thanks to her mom's choice jazz record collection. Besides being an avid jazz fan, her mom was also a piano teacher with 2 pianos, who often invited  local jazz musicians over to jam. One of those local musicians was Lynn's childhood piano teacher at the UMKC Conservatory of Music, George Salisbury. Others were Pete Eye, Mike Ning, Bettye and Milt Abel, and many more.

Lynn recently retired from a 40 year career at Hallmark, the last 15 of which were spent working to connect diverse suppliers to business opportunities with Hallmark. She’s also been promoting live music since the 90s, including several shows with internationally famous reggae bands.  Between her day job & promoting she’s honed her networking skills and discovered that her superpower is connecting people.

A graduate of KU, proud mother of one daughter, grandmother of three grandsons and professional schmoozer, Lynn lives in Lawrence and continues to use her passion for live music by promoting live shows. Being the Membership Director for the Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors is a perfect way for Lynn to connect jazz fans to each other to the wealth of talented local jazz musicians and the venues that support them

Staff Members

Suzanne Spencer: JAM Magazine Publisher
 
Darrell Hoffman: Membership
Rod McBride: JAM Magazine
 
Bob Clark: Membership

(c) Copyright Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors 2019

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