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  • Writer's pictureJAM

What Good Came of It?

When jazz was played at all the major hotel rooftop bars. Say Kansas City, in the mid-nineteen seventies, it seemed the bands would rotate about this time every winter. Mike Ning would move from the Marriott Downtown to Hyatt Crown Center, while Pete Eye would head from Plaza III Steakhouse to the Alameda Plaza, now called The Icon. A six-night-a-week residency was the norm for Frank Smith, George Salisbury and Russ Long—and most piano trios that inhabited those juice-joints seemed to live in tuxedos.

Things change. Popular songs of every era become the hip-new jazz standard of the day, and Kansas City’s Eboni Fondren, Bobby Watson and Lonnie McFadden have seemed roar-right-through the hard-times of the pandemic of the early 2020s—in step with Kaycee’s hipsters and lindy hoppers of the depression, and the late 1930s.

That is not to say that the past 2 years have been easy. It is easy to say the tenacity of musicians and nightclub owners has not waned. Jazz empresario Milton Morris could be proud of the Green Lady, Lonnie’s, and the reverent goings on at 18th and Vine these days.

We had a good thing going in Kaycee the before times. That flame of swing still burns bright, even if it’s been a hard couple of winters. Many nightclubs have survived. Concert halls are beginning to see good growth. Musicians are working in Kaycee; and there is that feeling in the air that Kansas City jazz will get cranking again, that we are right on the edge, of coming out of this thing.

What good? It was pointed out to me recently to remember, that Kansas City is one of the 4 Pillars of Jazz, that history is ours to celebrate or denigrate. There is so much talent in Kansas City. Musicians who land here, by accident or by design, seem to unanimously agree that Kaycee’s music community welcomes all talented musicians to try their luck here in Kansas City.

This is the good that continues to nourish a thriving music scene in Kansas City.


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