my top picks 2014–15

KCMetropolis.orgIt’s that time again! I was worried I’d have trouble putting together my list, but it turns out despite having another kind of crap year personally, I did end up seeing some fantastic concerts. Here is my top picks list on (in chronological order):

Rag Swing Bop! by Paul Mesner Puppets at the Gem Theater as part of the American Jazz Museum’s annual Charlie Parker Celebration. A great, fun way for young Kansas Citians to learn about important parts of our city’s history. (August 2014)

• Buddy Guy on the Performing Arts Series at Johnson County Community College. I loved seeing Buddy last fall as much as I loved seeing him live 15 years ago—he hasn’t lost his edge one bit! (September 2014)

• Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott on the Harriman-Jewell Series. I’d never seen Yo-Yo Ma play live before, and it was a thrilling experience. (October 2014)

San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas,on the Harriman-Jewell Series. Its performance of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center was simply breathtaking. (November 2014)

• Hozier at Liberty Hall in Lawrence. I hadn’t been to a rock concert in a long time, and Hozier lived up to and exceeded my expectations. Click here for my blog post. (February 2015)

• The Book of Mormon, presented by Theater League/Broadway Across America, at the Music Hall. My husband and I were having a really bad week when we went to see this, but Mormon let us just enjoy a bit of raunchy, ridiculous humor for an evening and forget about our troubles. (February 2015)

• Jonathan Harvey’s String Trio and Eight Songs for a Mad King by Peter Maxwell Davies, performed by newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. Harvey’s String Trio was exactly the kind of complex new music I love hearing, and Kenn Kumpf from Chicago was intense and mesmerizing as the insane George III in the rarely performed Eight Songs. (April 2015)

• Ensemble Ibérica on the Performing Arts Series at Johnson County Community College. Led by Beau Bledsoe, Ensemble Ibérica took its enraptured audience on a tour of Mexican regions through captivating, authentic traditional music. (May 2015)

• Musical sweethearts Victor and Penny performed a work-in-progress on Central Standard Theatre Kansas City‘s The Invasion series, but they are just so genuine and talented they captured my heart. I’m looking forward to seeking out more of their shows in the future. (July 2015)

• Emerging bluegrass duo The Matchsellers had a killer set on the Kansas City Fringe Festival, with a great mix of old standards and idiomatic new originals. I’m going to keep my eye out for these two around town as well (July 2015).

Read my list of top picks with more thoughts and direct links to individual reviews at Editor’s Picks 2014–15 season: Kristin

kcm interview: beau bledsoe

This week on I interviewed Ensemble Ibérica‘s artistic director Beau Bledsoe in the latest installment of our Movers, Shakers, and Stalwarts series, in which we feature important figures in the arts community. Beau has been studying, playing, and presenting the music of the Iberian Peninsula for years now, and is a driving force behind Kansas City’s experience of this music. And he’s an awesome guitarist! Ensemble Ibérica has a couple shows this month; I hope to get to the one on July 23.

beau bledsoe

Read the full interview at Movers, Shakers, Stalwarts: Beau Bledsoe

[Photo credit: Jeff Evrard]

jazz winterlude

KCMetropolis.orgIt’s another big issue of this week, and I have a new review:

Last weekend I had the pleasure of seeing two top-notch jazz concerts over at Johnson County Community College during its annual Jazz Winterlude. Both headlining acts were also part of JCCC’s Performing Arts Series, too. I wasn’t at the entire festival, but I was happy to see lots of diverse world music offerings there this year! First, on Friday night, I heard drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and her group of crazy-good musicians in Polsky Theatre. It was a very intimate setting and though Carrington’s band took a little time to get out of jamming-mode (which was still fun to listen to), once they clicked they really clicked and the music and experience was on a whole new plane for me. I think her take on the classic Ellington-Roach-Mingus Money Jungle social statement album is refreshing and appropriate to today’s issues.

The next night I saw legendary trumpeter Arturo Sandoval over in Yardley Hall. He was so much fun, as expected! I knew I had to call dibs on Sandoval’s show as soon as KCM had it up on the assignment calendar. I’ve been a fan for years—his music and Dizzy Gillespie’s pretty much introduced me to Latin-infused jazz. Anyway, I am consistently impressed by the high-quality, acclaimed artists JCCC brings in.

Read my full review at Tributes rule at Jazz Winterlude