Greetings from the Big Easy! I’ve been at the Jazz Education Network conference in New Orleans this week, and it has been a fantastic experience. Spending time with friends from around the world in the city where jazz was born (also the city of gumbo and poboys…) has been a blast! Maybe more importantly, there have been some great clinics and seminars on jazz education and jazz business that are deeply inspiring, stirring some new ideas for the future of KCJO’s performance and education endeavors! I’ve also talked with a few potential guest artists to perform with our band, and to spend some time in our city teaching and sharing their stories with our community. The good times are rolling!
Also, a slightly belated Happy New Year from KCJO - we rang it in onstage with Dave Stephens at Union Station, and that was a blast! After a brief rest, we (along with new executive director, Lea Petrie!) are moving ahead with 20-20 vision (sorry, I couldn’t resist) for what’s on the very near horizon.
Our remaining concerts are going to be doozies! Our trip to Brazil by way of the Caribbean on March 7th will be incredibly memorable, with those infectious rhythms and melodies, and the season closer on May 1st will be sure to lift all spirits as we celebrate soul and gospel with a full choir and star trumpeter Sean Jones. In between those will be a massive celebration of Charlie Parker, featuring altoists Jaleel Shaw, David Valdez, and KC’s legendary Bobby Watson and a chamber group delving into Bird’s Magnum Opus: Bird With Strings. It’s the 100th anniversary of Parker’s birth, and we will pay him a worthy tribute on April 4th. You won’t want to miss any of these!
Continually, the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra will be developing our educational strategy. It is very important to us as an organization to find the best way to reach the most people, to share this wonderful art form with everyone: young and experienced alike. Being at this Jazz Education conference is always incredibly eye-opening to me, and I am deeply inspired to pursue new strategies for the advocacy of jazz, Kansas City’s heritage music. We will continue to celebrate musicians who created this art, the practitioners that you both know and don’t know, and hopefully 2020 will be the best year yet for this endeavor. Please stay tuned for much more, in what I know will be our greatest year yet!