This is no big-band tribute to sounds of the past. The next show by the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra is all about now.
This time, the KCJO, a powerful alliance of 17 of our town's top musicians, gives free rein to the music of Bobby Watson, the reigning boss of the city's jazz scene. On Friday they will perform his Gates BBQ Suite" and some of his other compositions, with Watson joining the band for a demonstration of real musical authority.
Watson's recording of the Gates BBQ Suite" caused a sensation a couple of years ago, rightly. He made that recording with his University of Missouri-Kansas City student band, and at the time he stressed that this was the right thing to do because the students had worked hard to make the music their ownand he was right.
This time out, the suite's being played by a band of professionals, drilled and polished by bandleader Kerry Strayer. They will play it with commitment, of courseand perhaps a degree of polish and togetherness and dynamic control that the student musicians haven't yet developed. They'll bring out different aspects of the music. And they'll likely inspire their guest to new heights.