Album Of The Week: Bird And Diz – Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie

Swingin! It is only fitting to feature a Charlie Parker album during the last week of Kansas City’s Charlie Parker Celebration. Released in 1952 and produced by Norman Granz, this album was the last collaboration between Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Both Parker and Gillespie are credited as being the key founders of bebop music, taking the tradition of swing to the next level by creating more complex lines using chromatic approaches to encircle the key chord tones of a tunes chord progression. The album features a killer rhythm section consisting of Currley Russell on bass, Thelonius Monk on piano, and Buddy Rich on drums.  With the exception of My Melancholy Baby, all the tracks are tunes written by Charlie Parker, which are some of the most musical examples of bebop that exist. This wonderful album reminds us of the origins of the jazz tradition, while at the same time encouraging musicians everywhere to experiment with sound and the push limits of music just as Parker and Gillespie did.

James Ward Band Grooves All Night!


On Friday, August 21, the James Ward Band played three hip sets of instrumental R&B at the Blue Room. With Ward driving the band with his funky bass lines, other members of the band, including saxophonist Gerald Dunn and special guest vocalist Bukeka, were able to deliver exciting solos. Angela Ward, married to James Ward and a key member of the group, arranged the majority of the band’s material and expertly improvised over it on her keyboards. The quintet played well together to communicate the meaning of soul music to the audience.

Bird Lives! Celebrate His Life This Week at the Blue Room!

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On Monday, August 24, American Jazz Museum education director and well-known bass player Bill Mckemy, led a very special jam session at the Blue Room Jazz Club. Mckemy, who was celebrating his birthday, opened the jam with a great set comprised of jazz standards and his own originals. He was joined by TJ Martley on piano, Clint Ashlock on trumpet, Rich Wheeler on tenor saxophone, and John Kizarlmut on drums. After the first set, McKemy opened up the jam to students and professionals alike. Jazz festival guest artist Clay Jenkins sat in at the jam with all the local talent, which was a real treat. It was also exciting to have Charlie Parker’s daughter Kim as an audience member to the plethora of musicians keeping the jazz scene alive on 18th & Vine.

As we approach the final days of the Charlie Parker’s celebration, be sure to check out the live music and great food that will be happening in the Jazz District between 9am and 6pm. There are also special Charlie Parker exhibits in the American Jazz Museum that give a wonderful background on the Kansas City legend.

For more information on the festival go to

There will be spectacular live music coming up in the Blue Room this week to celebrate the life of Charlie Parker! on Thursday, August 27, Makuza will be performing at 7pm. This sextet pushes the boundaries of Latin Jazz while respecting its rich tradition. On Friday, August 28, Montez Coleman will be playing at 8:30pm! Coleman, a St. Louis native, is a spectacular drummer on the New York scene. Before becoming the band leader he is today, he was a key member of the Roy Hargrove Quintet! The evening will start out with the Blue Room’s weekly Indigo Hour with music from local group Gray Matter. On Saturday, August 29, Bob Bowman and Bowdog will feature Clay Jenkins for an evening of jazz that is sure to be a wonderful end to a successful jazz festival.

Come celebrate the life of Charlie Parker down at 18th & Vine, his old stomping grounds. An inspired musician and a founder of the bebop idiom, Parker continues to be an inspiration to people everywhere.

for more information on the Blue Room’s schedule, please visit

Album Of The Week: Ah Um – Charles Mingus

Released in 1959 by Colombia Records, Ah Um is a Mingus masterpiece that demonstrates not only his aggressive bass playing and skills as a band leader, but his masterful compositions as well. With dedications to Duke Ellington and Jelly Roll Morton, Mingus builds upon the roots of his influences to create exceedingly interesting tunes that have both wonderful rhythmic interest and catchy melodies. Listen to it, the music speaks for itself really.

Dwayne Mitchell’s Jam Session Kicks Off Live Music At The Blue Room. This Week: The Charlie Parker Celebration!

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On Monday, August 17, Kansas City guitarist Dwayne Mitchell hosted the weekly jam session at the Blue Room. Accompanied by an organ trio, Mitchell started the session with a set of jazz standards and later opened up the stage, allowing both students and professionals alike to make music together in an open-minded and educational setting.

This week on 18th & Vine marks the beginning of the much anticipated Charlie Parker Celebration! Yes! Charlie Parker is the fitting theme for this year’s Jazz and Blues Festival! There will be live music and vendors from 9:00am to 6:00pm August 20-29 followed by live concerts at night at all the local clubs, including the Blue Room of course! The festival will also feature special Charlie Parker exhibits and music workshops taking place in the American Jazz Museum.

Live music at the Blue Room will feature exciting talent this week! On Thursday, August 20, Shades Of Jade will perform at 7pm to kick off the festivities. Shades Of Jade is yet another group featured on the ARC label and will be releasing their new album That One at the concert! On Friday, August 21, The James Ward Band perform at 8:30pm. This contemporary jazz ensemble was initially formed in the Blue Room by bassist James Ward to play covers and originals that feature a wide variety of styles such as Latin, R&B, Funk, Jazz, and Gospel. The night will begin with the Blue Room’s weekly Indigo Hour at 5:30pm, featuring The Band Oasis. On Saturday, August 22 David Basse will perform at 8:30pm. Basse, a talented vocalist, drummer, and radio host from Kansas City, has been declared “the voice of Kansas City” by the Kansas City Star, don’t miss his performance!

We hope you will come to the Blue Room and the American Jazz Museum this week and next week to celebrate the life of Charlie Parker! What better way to learn about the history of jazz music and support the future of jazz music at the same time? Tickets are on sale now!

For more information on the Charlie Parker Celebration please visit:

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Sharon Thompson Gives New Voice to the Charles Williams Quartet


On Friday, August 14, the Charles Williams Quartet featuring Sharon Thompson delivered a quality performance for an enthusiastic Blue Room crowd. The performers played many jazz standards as well as blues, soul, and gospel tunes to showcase the vocal versatility of Thompson.The quartet consisted of Charles Williams on piano, James Ward on basa Doug Talley on tenor saxophone, and Matt Leifer on drums. The quartet was very communicative with each other and had a great rhythmic feel. Thompson brought a lot of charisma to the group, frequently acknowledging the audience and getting them to clap along with the music. This feel-good ensemble laid down three hip sets, lets hope that this collaboration happens again.

Tyree Johnson’s Groove 101 Provides a Hip Start to an Exciting Week of Jazz at The Blue Room!

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On Monday, August 10, Tyree Johnson and his group Groove 101 hosted the weekly jam session at Kansas City’s Blue Room Jazz Club. The group, consisting of Johnson on drums, Everett Freeman on piano, Kevin Young on base, and Ernest Melton on saxophones, opened with a set of originals and standards that showed off their jazz and hip-hop influences as well as their ability to create tight rhythmic pockets to facilitate improvisation. From there the jam opened up to visiting players, creating some unique combinations of musical personalities.

There is more great jazz coming up this week at the Blue Room! On Thursday, August 13, the Gerald Spaits/Charles Perkins Quartet will play at 7pm. The talented saxophonist and bassist will work together to share their original tunes. On Friday, August 14, the Charles Williams Quartet will once again take to the Blue Room stage starting at 8:30 pm. This concert will feature the vocal talents of Sharon Thompson. The night will begin at 5:30 with the club’s weekly Indigo Hour featuring BMW. On Saturday, August 15, vocal legend Ida McBeth is back! Be sure that you don’t miss her exciting sets starting at 8:30 PM.

We hope to see you here at 18th and Vine this week to support all of this wonderful live music. If you’re not in the area, you should find some time to visit and explore the rich jazz culture here in Kansas City.

For more information on the Blue Room’s schedule, please visit

Will Matthews and Bobby Floyd Groove the Night Away!


On Saturday, August 1, the Will Matthews B-3 Organ Trio Featuring Bobby Floyd shared their love of the jazz tradition with the Blue Room. The trio played three sets that consisted mostly of standards, but also some originals and arrangements by Floyd and Matthews. Will Matthews, the guitarist in the Count Basie Big Band, played rhythmic bop lines that inspired related ideas from the other members of the group. Floyd was able to expertly manipulate the dynamics of the tunes, bringing the music down to a whisper before building into exciting shout choruses. Kansas City drummer Marty Morrison held the group together. Organ trio is a unique format and it was wonderful to hear it so expertly executed.

Album Of The Week: Misterioso – Thelonius Monk

While Thelonius Monk was undoubtedly a pioneer of the bebop idiom along with Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and the many other musicians who were experimenting with sounds at Minton’s playhouse in the 1940s, his main concern was finding his own voice.  One of the most unique jazz musicians of the era, he is still known for his rhythmic ideas, angular and dissonant harmonies, and commitment to the melody in his improvisations.

Misterioso is a fantastic album that was recorded live in 1948 at the Five Spot Café in New York City. Monk had been having a difficult time financially, but this album, a culmination of his residency at the Five Spot, marked the beginning of his ascent to success. He is accompanied by Ahmed Abdul-Malik on bass, Roy Haynes on drums, and Johnny Griffin on tenor saxophone. Griffin’s aggressive lines offer contrast to Monk’s sparser playing and give an additional perspective to the tunes. Though it was initially received with mixed reviews, critics today agree on the album’s importance and influence. It is truly a unique record that demonstrates Monk’s honesty as a player and composer.

Luis Neal Big Band Gets This Week at the Blue Room Into Full Swing!

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On Monday, July 26, The Louis Neal Big Band filled the Blue Room with sound and Kansas City pride. The group, led by trombonist, composer, and educator Louis Neal, is an undoubtedly hard-hitting band that features talented local musicians. Neal’s Big Band played two sets that featured charts from the Great American songbook as well as many covers and arrangements, some of which were by Neal. It was a pleasure to watch such a swinging group upholding the tradition and standard of the historic Kansas City big band scene, and on 18th & Vine!

It is no surprise that there is more great music in store this week at the Blue Room. On Thursday, July 30, The Latin Jazz All-Stars will groove their way into your heart at 7pm. This nine piece group plays Afro-Latin music that incorporates traditional percussion such as bata, timbales, congas, and shekere. On Friday, July 31, the Tyrone Clark Quartet will play three sets starting at 8:30pm. The seasoned Kansas City bass player will join together with pianist Charles Williams, guitarist Charles Gatshet, and drummer Doug Hitchcock to swing all night for your listening pleasure. Just A Taste A Jazz will kick off the night at 5:30 during the Blue Room’s weekly indigo Hour. On Saturday, August 1, don’t miss The Will Matthews B3 Organ Project Featuring Bobby Floyd at 8:30pm. World-renowned Kansas City guitarist Will Matthews has played with so many greats, including his current position playing in The Count Basie Big Band! Matthews has invited Ohio pianist, keyboardist, and organist Bobby Floyd to make music with him in this exciting new project.

We hope to see you here at the Blue Room this week to support all of this superb live music. If you’re not in the area, you should find some time to visit and explore the rich jazz culture here in Kansas City.

For more information on the Blue Room’s schedule, please visit