TWO VIEWS OF KANSAS CITY JAZZ: KEITH NICHOLS’ BLUE DEVILS at the 2011 WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (thanks to Elin Smith)

Often we associate “Kansas City jazz” with the free-flowing style of the middle Thirties.  But there was a regional style even before John Hammond heard the Basie band at the Reno Club on his car radio.

Here are two examples, brought to life at the 2011 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party by pianist /arranger Keith Nichols and his Blue Devils — a band consisting of  Bent Persson, Rico Tomasso, Andy Woon, trumpets; Steve Andrews, Jean-Francois Bonnel, Matthias Seuffert, reeds; Alistair Allan, trombone; Richard Pite, string bass; Martin Wheatley, guitar; Nick Ward, drums.  You might also catch a glimpse of dancing couples — one unidentified and vigorous; the other Bridget Calzaretta and Paul Asaro, off to the right.

Before there was Basie, there was Moten — in whose band Basie was the second pianist.  Here’s a sample of what Bennie Moten’s band was recording in 1925, KATER STREET RAG, with solos by Jean-Francois Bonnel (baritone), Alistair Allan, Bent Persson, and Rico Tomasso:

Four years later, there was Walter Page’s Blue Devils, here embodied in BLUE DEVIL BLUES, with solos by Bent, Steve Andrews (clarinet), and Andy Woon:

There’s no sense in talking about “progress” in art, otherwise art criticism becomes a staged wrestling match, Stravinsky vs. Mozart, and both performances here make perfect aesthetic sense.  But in four years the rhythmic feel had certainly changed. . . . moving towards the Basie band at the Famous Door and onwards.

Advertisements

2 responses to “TWO VIEWS OF KANSAS CITY JAZZ: KEITH NICHOLS’ BLUE DEVILS at the 2011 WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (thanks to Elin Smith)

  1. Nice article! My band Six Shooter plays authentic jazz of the mid 1920’s to latter 30’s with a septet format including 3 horns. By authentic, I’m referring to no band arrangments. We wing it and are very successful with our approach. Sure, sometimes the may be a ‘head arrangment form only’, but otherwise we have a blast. Of course it takes real jazz players to pull it off. Reading only will never cut it with me!

    Honey Bunch
    http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_8481572

    I Could Write a Book, Indiana, Intros
    http://www.reverbnation.com/tunepak/3374497

  2. Interesting stuff. . . My dad was there in Kansas City in the late twenties and thirties as a radio broadcaster at WHB. He was an announcer and played piano & sang too. The greats would come to the studio for interviews when in town. Of course if they were black they’d have to come up the back elevator. My dad got to meet & visit with them. I think they also did some remote broadcasts from the clubs, but he didn’t talk much about that being a good Baptist choir director. I have some publications from the station with interesting photos from the 30’s. What an great time that must have been.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s