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Old 01-05-2012, 09:37 AM
 
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What is the current Jazz scene like in Kansas city?
Is there a particular current trend happening now? For instance leaning to more Instrumental groups or Vocal Jazz, Swing or Contemporary?
I am a Jazz Singer who would be looking for gigs in Restaurants and Cafes.
How interested are business owners in having a Singer to Jazz up their establishment? Will they pay you?
Stiff competition? Room for more? I hear that Im pretty good
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Old 01-05-2012, 11:33 AM
 
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The jazz/blues scene isn't what it used to be but is still stronger than most cities. See...

Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors Official Web Site

There are a lot of musicians that you may have to compete with for gigs but you'll find that you can network with musicians in KC rather than compete with them for the most part.

I used to be involved as a member of the above org and found there are 2 primary circles - 'the performers' and 'the entertainers' and many subcultures within those. For the most part, the networking between musicians is pretty good within certain circles.

Also see...
Kansas City Blues Society
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Old 01-08-2012, 06:04 PM
 
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From my perspective the Kansas City Jazz scene is dominated by "College Jazz" types and not many street players the way it was back in the 60's and 70's. You will probably have to be well versed in the "standards" and hang out at the Blue Room or Mutual Mucians Foundation Jam sessions. Be prepared to show up an not get to jam, but keep showing up.
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Old 01-08-2012, 06:20 PM
 
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Interesting perspective that I've never heard before. A good chunk of players/singers in town who get consistent gigs are over 50 and have been in the biz a decade or three. There is also a college circle, probably less than 1/4 of the whole. But yeah, that's who tends to hang out at The Foundation.

Here's a list of active musicians/singers that gig around town, of which very few are under 30...

http://www.kcjazzambassadors.com/doc...c_Mart_PDF.pdf
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Old 01-09-2012, 07:42 AM
 
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I think KC is still a good place to be from as a Jazz Musician. There are a few noted players who perform nationaly and internationly who call KC their home and a hand full who have relocated to NY or LA. My beef with the Jazz scene in general is there is no avant gaurd to speak of . The success of college programs has made young players more conservative in their approach. IMO Jazz has historicaly been fueled by younger players who break away from the establishment but in KC there are more rewards for sounding like the past instead of the future of Jazz.

For a person who wants to play Jazz in KC I think there is a dedecated and knowledgeable audience base there and thats why the big names like to play in KC. My frustration with KC is when some of the older guys die there is always a benifit to help defray their final expenses. These people die broke with too little considering what they gave to the city. I think KC is a little saturated with musicians so it dosent pay very well to try to be a full time player there.
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Old 01-09-2012, 07:56 AM
 
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Would agree the college level is heavily influenced by Bobby Watson and more conservative Gerald Dunn, but your original message that KC is 'dominated by college jazz' is actually the opposite. The Xroads/West Bottoms loading dock jazz thing in KC leans more experimental and fantasy retro but is not on the forefront - is more for artists by artists.

I do wish KC could have something like Tonic (experimental) in NYC, where I used to hang out often. But even it closed and the NYC scene has dumbed down along with it. I'm really disappointed with NYC last 5 years. Some has dispersed into Brooklyn but it's really watered down now. Boston still has some pretty good experimentation going on.

10 years ago, Jazz sales were globally only 1% of the overall market. Today it's even less. Jazz is simply dying (in terms of industry) so it's surprising there is what there is in KC. I do agree that it's harder to make a living as a jazz musician/singer and not just in KC.

Last edited by xenokc; 01-09-2012 at 08:32 AM..
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Old 01-09-2012, 08:43 AM
 
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I guess I meant to say that to break into the scene you break in at the bottom and the bottom is dominated mostly by the college crew. I personally feel that teaching kids to memorize the standards is a tired and outmoded approach to creating a Jazz musician. What escapes most Jazz educators is how many of the historicaly great Jazz musicians had composition skills that surpased their ability to improvise.
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Old 01-09-2012, 09:05 AM
 
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The Bobby Watson approach is definitely improv and there are plenty improv players in town but otherwise I agree that there are also many doing standards. As far as breaking into KC, there are many circles with different avenues, not a single path. But do agree there are more musicians than venues to play these days and in every city. There are other formats some venues are switching to.

One possible approach for newcomers who are good enough is to create your own gig spot by convincing a restaurant to start something up. Sometimes can work. Making a full time living on it is not likely though.

Last edited by xenokc; 01-09-2012 at 09:56 AM..
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Old 01-09-2012, 02:21 PM
 
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BTW, a taste of KC experimental. Snuff Jazz....


Snuff Jazz at the Grunauer in Kansas City - YouTube


Wee Snuff Jazz on Whoop Dee Doo!! - YouTube
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Old 01-11-2012, 04:23 PM
 
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Thanks thriftylefty and xenokc for your insights. This is exactly the kind of info I am looking for. At this point exploring KC, Minneapolis, Columbus,OH and Syracuse.
I am definitely into creating my own gigs and dont usually go the general club route so that has always been to my benefit. I do think it is just plain challenging for Musicians period, but some cities are always a bit better off than others. For instance would not touch NYC with a ten foot pole...Like I always say, if everyone is a performer, who will be the audience? Have several Musician friends who went off the beaten path and are so much better for it...Looking for my not too beaten path..Thanks for helping
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