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KC Jazz Greats Go Virtual at Johnson County Community College

Updated: Sep 4, 2020

by Susan Tolleson, JCCC writer

Fall 2020 Jazz Series broadcasts original music and early jazz roots

“I think it is in collaboration that the nature of art is revealed.” Steve Lacy

The Fall 2020 Jazz Series at Johnson County Community College looks a little different this year. Beginning September 22, the College presents a virtual lineup of some of Kansas City’s outstanding jazz talents. Well-known performers from the area have teamed with JCCC to share a combination of new music and interpretations of longtime favorites:

Sep. 22 Doug Talley Quartet

Sep. 29 Bram Wijnands Duo

Oct. 6 Brian Scarborough Quintet

Oct. 13 Michael McClintock and Jeff Freling, guitars

Oct. 20 Adam Larson Quartet

Oct. 27 Joe Cartwright, piano

Nov. 3 Eclipse

“Taking the jazz series virtual this fall is a real opportunity to reach audiences who might not typically come to the recitals,” says Doreen Maronde, former JCCC administrator and organizer of the series since it began.

Right Tunes at the Right Time

When pianist Joe Cartwright accepted the invitation to join the series, he knew the perfect song to include in his set list. “Look for the Silver Lining” was published in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic. “So always look for the silver lining/ And try to find the sunny side of life.” “They’re hopeful lyrics for a difficult time,” says Cartwright.

In addition to that piece, Cartwright performs a jazz adaptation on a Bach prelude and talks a little about the rules of 18th Century counterpoint. He also performs Irving Berlin’s “What’ll I Do” from 1923, a piece from the Civil War era, a jazz adaptation of Chopin Nocturne in F Minor, and “Blues for Doreen,” his tribute to Maronde.

The Doug Talley Quartet is using the opportunity to showcase a multi-movement piece Talley wrote and recorded in the early 2000s. “The Kansas City Suite” is a tribute to the city’s culture, heritage, art, political figures and history. “It really is a celebration of Kansas City,” says Talley. He hopes it will encourage locals to explore some of the aspects covered by the pieces.

Numbers include “1600 East 18th St.,” the address for the Blue Room. “City of Fountains” takes listeners on a walk through one of Kansas City’s many parks. “Sleeping child” is based on a statue on 47th Street in the Plaza. The sinister beat of “Pendergast” harkens back to the days of Thomas Joseph (T.J.) Pendergast, the political boss who controlled Kansas City and Jackson County from 1925 to 1939. “Stockyard Blues” has a bit of a western flair, and “Plaza Lights” – one of their most requested numbers – is a Latin tune that celebrates family. “Westport,” “Shuttlecocks” and “Basie and The Pres” round out the hourlong concert for Doug Talley (saxophones), Tim Brewer (bass), Keith Kavanaugh (drums/cymbals) and Rod Fleeman (guitar).

Collaboration is Key in 2020

Working with the musicians to create broadcast-quality recordings was a new undertaking for the Carlsen Center staff, the College’s video services team and Maronde. Weeks before the recordings, Maronde informed the musicians that copyrights required their music to be original or in the public domain (published before 1924). The performers embraced the opportunity to share music audiences might not have heard before – whether it’s some of their own or interpretations on an older piece.

“We have an incredibly rich resource of jazz musicians in the area,” says the Carlsen Center’s Performing Arts General Manager Emily Behrmann. “A virtual series is a great way to give those artists a higher profile. And as a presenter, it allows us to support them at a time when they may not be getting many gigs.”

All recitals were recorded in the Polsky Theatre at the Carlsen Center and will broadcast at noon. Afterward, you may watch them any time through December 2020 at the website.

JCCC’s Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences department presents the 32nd year of the Jazz Series at JCCC.

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