We are glad to be back presenting another evening of music at our favorite art gallery. This event will feature for the first time some artists from another part of the country. The history of jazz is a long and winding road which passed significantly through the city of Kansas City. This humble but proud city, run in the 1920’s and 30s by political boss Tom Pendergast, sported a thriving nightclub culture (serving alcohol in open defiance of Prohibition) which lead to an thriving early jazz scene and provided a launching pad for the careers of Count Basie, Mary Lou Williams, Lester Young, Freddie Green, Jo Jones, and Charlie Parker among others. To this day, the city has sought to preserve its unique jazz legacy, preserving some of its historic jazz clubs, and maintaining an environment which has allowed jazz to continue to thrive. We are excited to bring to Los Angeles two bright lights from the current Kansas City jazz community.
Kelly Gant and Jeff Stocks
Vocalist Kelley Gant was born in Topeka, went to college at Kansas State University, did her “we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto” tour of duty in Chicago and San Cristobal, Mexico, and prodigally returned home and settled in Kansas City, where she has an active performing career. In addition to singing beautifully, Kelley is also an accomplished whistler and here’s hoping she doesn’t withhold that unique talent from us. Guitarist Jeff Stocks hails from Shawnee, just outside of Kansas City, where he can be found performing in many settings and groups, including the excellent group Project H, which last year won the Pitch Reader’s poll award for Best Jazz Ensemble.
Gary Fukushima, Miles Senzaki, Toshi Sato
One of the reasons artists hire a publicist is to avoid the awkward task of having to self-aggrandize your own achievements. “Hope you come see my band, ’cause we’re one of the best things happing anywhere in music today!” So while I’m not going to say that (or did that just happen?), I will say I’m taking advantage of a last-minute opening in our schedule to air out some things that I’ve been working on for the past few years. My trio has been in transition for a while now, as we have all been evolving as musicians and individuals, and it’s been fun to reconnect and see how that growth has altered what we do. Drummer Miles Senzaki is one of the first guys I ever played with professionally in Los Angeles, and he’s currently in a variety of great bands, including the Breakestra, My Hawaii, Young Hunting, and The Sidewinders. None of those bands are what you would call “jazz”, and the outside influences have really shaped his playing in ways that make me rethink what I am doing and writing for the trio. Bassist Toshi Sato and I share a connection to the amazing California Institute of the Arts, where we both went to school, albeit at different times. There is something to the openness and acceptance of all kinds of musical and artistic ideas at CalArts which unifies Calartians across time and space, and the school’s impact can be felt across time and space from Los Angeles to New York to everywhere in between (including Kansas City, where saxophonist and former CalArts alum Matt Otto has make a significant contribution to their creative music community).
This will be a fun, interstate, music-sharing time. Thanks for continuing to support what we are trying to do here and the artists who are contributing to our endeavors.
Director, Los Angeles Jazz Collective