Something Jazzy From Denmark

Events Friday honor Kansas City Saxophonist Ben Webster

An international musical celebration this Friday will celebrate the music – and Kansas City birthplace – of saxophone great Ben Webster.

The event will feature live performances in both Kansas City and Copenhagen, Denmark, along with a visit to Webster’s birthplace and childhood home at 2441 Highland Ave., Kansas City.

“Ben Webster: from Kansas City to Copenhagen” is one of a series of events being conducted through a Rocket Grant awarded to Jacob Wagner, Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning  and Director of Urban Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Through the grant, Wagner is working with artist Yozo Suzuki on Project S.P.U.D. (Society for the Prevention of Un-necessary Demolition). Rocket Grants are a program of the Charlotte Street Foundation and the University of Kansas Spencer Museum of Art. Funding is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

The celebration begins at 5 p.m. at the Mutual Musicians Foundation, 1823 Highland Ave., Kansas City, with a broadcast of a live concert from Copenhagen, Denmark to Kansas City featuring music and stories from the musicians and friends who knew Ben Webster in Copenhagen. Famed saxophonist Jesper Thilo, who has dedicated his career to the music of Ben Webster, will share his memories of Ben.

Following the broadcast, guests will be invited to visit the site of Webster’s childhood home at 2441 Highland. Around 8 p.m. the group will re-assemble at the Mutual Musicians Foundation for a tribute to Webster with stories about his life and Kansas City jazz with local historian Elvis “Sonny” Gibson, followed by a live performance and jam session by the Mutual Musicians Foundation All Star Band.

“This event is presented in the spirit of cultivating awareness of the musical and architectural heritage of Kansas City while also connecting with our international friends of jazz music,” Wagner said.

Ben Webster (1909-1973) was one of America’s great tenor saxophonists of the 20th Century. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, he began his career in the company of many of the musicians who put Kansas City on the map – including Mary Lou Williams, Count Basie, Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins.

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