Kansas City is a jazz town. There are only three others in the United States: New Orleans, Chicago and New York City. The heritage began in 1906 when Euday Bowman wrote and performed the “12th Street Rag.” Each song and performance since then has been an additional installment of Kansas City Jazz.
Within a few blocks of UMKC, or a short stroll up Brush Creek, musicians are honing their craft in bars and restaurants. On Main Street, just north of 47th Street, is Café Trio, where the music is meant to accompany the food. The menu is reasonably priced, and the piano is located adjacent to the bar. Musicians perform five nights a week, and there’s a happy hour every day. The atmosphere is upbeat and relaxed, and the music is terrific.
The Jay McShann Orchestra performed on the Country Club Plaza in the late 1930s. A young Charlie Parker was in the band. They were making musical history, while folks dined and danced. The spot is now a Brazilian Steak House. Three blocks to the west, on 47th Street, is Eddie V’s serving fresh fish and jazz.
This is the perfect place to go when relatives are in town and want to honor you for your excellent grades. Besides, the fish is as good as it gets. The jazz is performed by seasoned musicians and their stage is designed to hold the music in, and the music is broadcast to the crowd on an excellent sound system.
Music and art are major contributions to the atmosphere of the Country Club Plaza. Art from around the world is on display throughout the year on street corners, in the courtyards of fancy restaurants, and even in the median at the stop lights. The third week in September, the Plaza Art Fair brings restaurants outdoors and stages are set with music. It’s a great place to go for those on a student budget.
The Parkway Social Kitchen on the corner of Ward Parkway and Jefferson is an upscale restaurant with live music. Singer-songwriters often greet guests at the door. The club downstairs is open on weekends. With a long-term commitment to live music, Parkway Social Kitchen vows to add more shows as time goes on.
The menu is comfortable, like eating in the kitchen.
At the corner of Ward Parkway and Wornall, two hotels have live music several nights a week-The Raphael and The Intercontinental. One has a Friday night salsa band by the pool, and the other has bands performing on a grassy knoll out front through early autumn. Dress up a bit, and you’ll be welcomed inside, where comfy chairs and a pleasant view await one and all.
University News wants you to get acquainted with the neighborhood. As upscale as it can seem, walking, biking and hanging out are not frowned upon. Brush Creek is good for a run or a stroll with friends. Loose Park is very inviting, and you’ll often find impromptu music performances popping up just about anywhere.
For a full list of jazz events happening around the city, check out www.kansascityjazzcalendar.org.