On Tuesday, December 14, the KC Jazz Ambassadors will present the first-ever JAM Musician Awards at Johnnie’s Jazz Club. The purpose of the event is to recognize “everyone’s favorite jazz musicians in Kansas City,” said David Basse, editor of JAM magazine.
Since the KC Jazz Ambassadors have been around since 1984, I contacted the president of the organization, Marc Edelman, to find out what the impetus for these first awards was.
As the pandemic began to subside and KC’s jazz musicians slowly got back to work, they tried to think of something to involve the audience with them, Edelman explains in an email.
“We contributed over $ 17,000 through ‘Gig Grants’ to our local jazz musicians, but it was right between the jazz ambassadors and the musicians,” writes the president. “We wanted to give as many people as possible the opportunity to say, ‘Welcome, we missed you. So the idea was born to name your favorite jazz musicians, then choose one of the nominees in each category.
This, in addition to having a big party for musicians and jazz ambassadors, of course. In addition to the awards ceremony, there is an opening set by the UMKC Conservatory Jazz Ensemble and a jam session afterwards with some of the nominees and participants.
Since KC has a deep jazz heritage, I ask Edelman where he sees it now, and the Chairman of Jazz Ambassadors isn’t holding back.
“I’m always irritated when I see Kansas City omitted a list of jazz cities,” writes Edelman. “Did I say ‘irritated’? I mean “pissed off”. Go to Denver, St Louis, Minneapolis, Dallas, Houston, San Fran, Seattle – even Chicago if you subtract the blues bars – none of them have live music coming out of ten clubs on a given Thursday or Friday night. .
He then lists the thriving clubs in Kansas City, naming Blue Room, Phoenix, Corvino, Soiree, Black Dolphin, Green Lady, the Majestic, Lonnie’s Reno Club, Cafe Trio, Eddie V’s, Chaz on the Plaza, the Intercontinental and Johnnie’s Jazz. Club downtown.
“It’s been thirteen years and that counts! Edelman raves. “Easy to get to, free parking, good players, low blankets. Other than New York City, where blankets start at $ 25 and parking double, it’s hard to beat.
The awards were voted on through an online portal, with 670 local jazz fans choosing from the top four nominees in categories spanning everything: jazz guitarist, vocalist, saxophonists and trumpeters, pianists, jazz clubs, concert halls and radio broadcasts.
“We had around 500 nomination forms, from which we selected the top four voters in each category to create the final ballot,” continues Edelman. “Herschel McWilliams, a member of our board of directors, did a great job putting all of this in place. Now we have the software for years to come.
The top four in each category are what Edelman describes as a fairly diverse group.
“We had great standards like Bram, Lonnie, Charles Williams, Joe Cartwright, Tyrone Clark and Eboni Fondren, and more avant-garde musicians like Mark Lowery, Marcus Lewis, Ben Leifer and Adam Schlozman,” writes Edelman. “But everyone is swinging.”
While musicians are obviously the center of attention here, with nine categories represented, the nominated clubs and radio personalities also lend a lot to KC’s jazz landscape, the president continues, adding that the nominated clubs were the Blue Room, the Green Lady / Black Dolphin, the Phoenix and Corvino.
“Thank goodness these new clubs and more are here,” praises Edelman. “Without them, we wouldn’t have live jazz. They make the KC jazz landscape. Different styles in different clubs, but they all represent concerts for local jazz musicians. It is important.”
In addition, radio hosts David Bass, Roger Wilder, Gerald Dunn and Bob McWilliams all received “favorite” nods.
“They are all important educators and advocates of music, introducing new things while respecting the ‘classics’,” concludes Edelman. “We need both.”
The KC Jazz Ambassadors will present the first-ever JAM Musician Awards at Johnnie’s Jazz Club on Tuesday, December 14. Details on this show here.