All That Kansas City Jazz

There is a magic time in the city that only a select few get to see…the newspaper distributors, the night watchmen, the milk man and me. A time when the city sleeps and the streets are empty, the party is over and the work day is no more than a spectre of the future on a slumbering dreamer’s brow. 

Kansas City late at night, month of December during an unseasonable warm spell. Portrait of a city that hasn’t let it’s size elapse it’s beauty or it’s home town feel, still a cow town, still an eclectic blend of art deco, modernism and functionality.. A city full of secrets waiting to be uncovered and stories to be told of cowboys and Indians, gangsters and g-men. This is my city and I alone, atop this downtown structure stand watch as the red lights change to green for cars that are safe at home in driveways and garages. Just me, my camera and some softly playing Kansas City Jazz on the stereo….It is said that although New Orleans was the birthplace of Jazz, Kansas City is where Jazz grew up.

Unlike more commercial swing, Kansas City jazz is built upon head arrangements, — musical ideas or riffs that were rarely written down, but provided the foundation for Kansas City musicians to improvise all night long. Kansas City musicians did not play the blues so much as stomp them. Notable Jazz critic and American literary Albert Murray once wrote, “The special drive of Kansas City music is … a device for herding or even stampeding the blues away. [T]he KC drummer not only maintains that ever steady yet always flexible transcontinental locomotive-like drive of the KC 4/4, he also behaves for all the world like a whip-cracking trail driver. And so do Kansas City brass ensembles on occasion also yap and snap precisely as if in pursuit of some invisible quarry, with the piano player siccing them on.”

There were many factors that led to the gradual demise of Kansas City as a proving ground for the best and brightest in the jazz world, but late at night, with the music stomping on the radio high above the city streets, you can almost feel the energy from the countless speak easies & cabarets long since closed on the boulevards below. A time past, but not forgotten, the music holds the memories close.

18th & Vine, A playlist of Kansas City Jazz on Mog by me.

Kansas City Ballad by Tommy Gwaltney’s Kansas City Nine

Good Mornin’ Blues by Buck Clayton

Wichita Blues by Charlie Parker

Blues in the Dark by Count Basie and his Orchestra

Too Marvelous for Words by Lester Young

One O’clock Jump by Hershel Evans

I Can’t Love You Anymore Than I Do by Coleman Hawkins and his Orchestra

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Joe Turner

51st & Swope by Claude Williams

Boogie Woogie by Pete Johnson

Dameron Stomp by Harlan Leonard & His Rockets

I Got It Bad by Charlie Parker

I Won’t Be Here Long by Hot Lips Page

Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone by Sammie Price

She’s Crying For Me by Dewey Jackson’s Peacock Orchestra

Laughing At Life by Kansas City Five

Vine Street Blues – Parts 1 & 2 by Harry James

Baby Dear by Mary Lou Williams and her Kansas City Seven

The Blue Room by Benny Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra

Froggy Bottom by Andy Kirk and His Clouds of Joy

Blue Devil Blues by Walter Page’s Blue Devils

Vine Street Boogie by Jay McShann and his Orchestra

Kansas City Stomps by Jellie Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers


33 responses to “All That Kansas City Jazz

  1. Play misty for me…
    Well, I can’t listen to your playlist, they ask me to join FB. Anyway, I love jazz!
    Beautiful pics as usual, you are a chef Chloe!
    Have you got your own restaurant ? Lots of work at this time of the year I guess.

    • I have had 3 restaurants, but now I just work with athletes and their dietary needs, I do some catering here and there. Restaurants are like husbands, they demand 100% of your time and energy 🙂

      Facebook, ugh! I forget they are trying to tie into everything now. I detest them, it’s like an evil empire trying to take over your internet browser with little thumbs up signs.

      • Actually your 3 restaurants were your 3 husbands : you had to be on your 300 %, what a woman!!
        I’ll plan a New Year party with my family. And you something special ?

      • Ahahaha! I’m too much for any one man, but definitely not enough for 3! I did all that and ran a catering business. No wonder I am always tired now. I avoid doing much on New Year’s Eve, having worked in the service industry, I know exactly how overrated it all is. We will dine out locally here and then relax. I have just started the black eyed peas for New Year’s day.

  2. happy new year Cyn,i have to do it here cause someone dissapeard from fb hahahaha…again great job on the post and the photos;always looking forward to see them,btw not noticed yet how good behaved i am?the new Kat for 2012!!i just make an exception for miss T!

    • I am impressed! You are being very good, a new Kat indeed! Thanks for the new year’s wishes, I hope this coming year brings you happiness and love!

  3. I’m unable to get the “Like” tab to work for me on your blog.
    I log in and I’m returned to the top of the page.
    What am I doing wrong?

  4. Thanks a lot for your nice comment Chloe, I’m glad you like my drawing 🙂

  5. There is something interesting in Kansas City, “where it seems like nothing happens and nothing ever changes” ? My God !

  6. These are wonderful. This town of ours doesn’t light up at night. It’s surprisingly dark, and from what I understand, intentionally so, as not to lose the evening sky. Your recent posts have had me itching to take some city scape photos though. Me thinks I am going to have to make a run up to Seattle in the near future.
    I hope you had a happy New Year!

    • Oooh! That would be neat. I’ve been playing with a new trick a friend showed me in very low light, I’ll post them when I am finally happy. It requires leaving the shutter open for up to 6 minutes. Around here that only works in the winter, too many bugs in the summer. Seattle is so beautiful once again, I am jealous.

  7. Thanks for your comment Chloe, I’m happy you like my “bidouillage”.
    Hey, where is your new post ? I am waiting for you 😉

  8. Good pictures. I also like that special feeling of wandering the city alone, when it’s light, just about, after a night shift.
    It’s different when it’s dark. When I was younger the sound of my footsteps echoing on empty Belfast city centre streets was far from comforting.

    • Thanks! Now Belfast would be a most interesting city to prowl, I can almost imagine your discomfort. Here’s to wonderful cities all to ourselves!

  9. Je suis Agnès et je suis arrivée ici à travers du site de Chatodys.. je voudrais te dire que j’aime beaucoup la mise-en-page .. Agnès

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