5th Annual Charlie Parker Celebration: An Array of Musical Performances, Tributes & Education - 10 Days of Jazz from August 16-25, 2018


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The Charlie Parker Celebration returns and will celebrate its 5th anniversary. Helping celebrate the 5th anniversary will be a local, multi-talented treasure, who has become a national and international entertainer, while spreading the word of Kansas City jazz.

The treasure and one of this year’s Artist-in-Residence is Lonnie McFadden, a singer, trumpeter and tap dancer. Add “producer” to his portfolio. McFadden will do all of the above at this year's Charlie Parker Celebration (CPC) and produce the Celebration’s signature concert, Charlie Parker – Past, Present, Future, Aug. 25. Joining McFadden as an Artist-in-Residence (AIR) will be Grammy winner Tivon Pennicott. Both will participate in many of this year’s feature events and the jazz crawl (20+ performances at 14 jazz clubs or venues during the 10-day event.

Besides tributes to Parker, the event serves as an opportunity to promote the music of local Kansas City jazz artists who will perform alongside McFadden (trumpet) and Pennicott (tenor saxophone). The CPC is recognized as the largest celebration of its kind in the world.  Throughout the Celebration, McFadden, Pennicott, and all the local musicians will provide dialog about Kansas City and Charlie Parker’s indelible impression on jazz. Plus, this year the education events/activities have significantly expanded to further the story/awareness of KC jazz.

This year’s CPC events are again open to the public. Tickets will range from free to modestly priced.

KC Jazz ALIVE, the presenting organization, again has partnered with Kansas City area jazz clubs and leading jazz organizations for a series of special and educational events and performances:

Lonnie McFadden presents Charlie Parker – Past, Present & Future
Starring Tivon Pennicott and KC’s best musicians
Saturday, August 26 | 8 pm | Gem Theater

Lonnie McFadden produces and headlines this year’s signature event, which is expected to be highly entertaining and full of energy. The show will tell the story of Parker’s music and its impact, its place in today’s jazz world and how it will be viewed in the future. Pennicott and Lonnie’s brother Ronald McFadden will add to the fast-paced show. Lonnie’s band and other well-known KC jazz artists will add to the night’s excitement. Ticket prices will vary starting at $40. More information available soon at: charlieparkercelebration.com.

Jazz Crawl

August 16-25 | Varying times | Multiple jazz clubs and venues

The CPC 10-day Jazz Crawl is considered the largest in the U.S. The showcase of venues serves as an opportunity to promote the music of local Kansas City jazz artists as they perform alongside the award-winning Artists-in-Residence Pennicott and McFadden. Organizer KC Jazz ALIVE has partnered with 14 area jazz clubs and other organizations for 20+ performances and Parker tributes. The complete venue showcase schedule with times are here.

NOTE: In addition to expanding the 10-day performance schedule, this year’s Celebration has added significant educational programming with the help of major sponsorships from the City of Kansas City, MO, NTDF (Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund) and other sponsors and underwriters.

Chasing Bird: The Impact of Kansas City Music Genius Charlie “Yardbird” Parker

Thursday, August 16 | 6 pm-Reception, 7:15-Panel Discussion | Nelson-Atkins Museum, Bloch Bldg.

This year’s opening event is in collaboration with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and its popular Third Thursday festivities. The panel will explore the myriad of jazz greats who were inspired by the indelible impact of Charlie “Yardbird” Parker… and why they, “chased the bird.” Expert panelists include:

  • Dr. John Hasse: Curator Emeritus of American Music at the Smithsonian;
  • Lisa Hittle: saxophonist and Director of Jazz Studies at Wichita’s Friends University;
  • Tivon Pennicott: New York-based, three-time Grammy winning saxophonist and 2018 AIR;
  • David Basse: panel moderator and local popular jazz musician who hosts Kansas Public Radio’s “Jazz with David Basse.”
The event is free and open to the public. Panel discussion seating is limited so reservations are required. Secure your seat here.

Kansas City Jazz History Tour

Saturday, August 25 | 9:30 am- 3 pm | Begins at American Jazz Museum

An expanded Jazz History Tour will provide patrons with:
  • Jazz District walking tour;
  • KC jazz history bus tour;
  • delightful jazz lunch;
  • a musical salute to Parker with a district development presentation.
  • The tour features a lunch stop at the BAC Music Center, aka Horn Doctor Mike Corrigan (12th & Lydia). This little known KC treasure, led by Corrigan, provides a look at the only remaining custom bass instrument manufacturer in American. BAC, which sits in an area that once was part of the jazz scene, is helping to keep the spirit of KC’s sound alive. Another notable stop is the historic Bowl (12th Street & Vine), an outdoor park/garden that once served as special gathering, invitation-only spot for KC’s best musicians. The Bowl visit includes a 21 Sax Salute to iconic KC jazz musicians and of course, Parker, whose 98th birthday is Aug. 29. The Salute will be performed by local musicians and students in the highly acclaimed UMKC jazz studies program.

    Tour guides:

    • Jacob Wagner, UMKC Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Design. Wagner is responsible for KC earning the only UNESCO Creative City of Music in America designation, mainly through his compelling presentation.
    • Christopher Burnett, COO/ Founder of Artists Recording Collective record label, who provides an authentic insight on KC’s rich jazz history.
    Patrons will receive a complimentary Self-Guided Tour booklet. The History Tour is a partnership with BAC Horn Doctor, HOK global design/architectural firm and Midnight Blue Jazz. Tickets are $40. Early reservations are advised.

    Charlie Parker Student Music Boot Camp

    Saturday, August 18 | 10 am- 4 pm | Gem Theater

    The KC Jazz Academy and Midnight Blue Jazz will provide a full-immersion workshop dedicated to learning jazz styles, improvisation and the music and genius of Charlie Parker. The goal is to attract 100+ instrumental music students from middle and high schools. Camp tuition: $35. Scholarships are available to students with financial needs. Early registration is advised (Aug. 8 deadline).

    Annual Chicken Dinner

    Saturday, August 18 | 5-7 pm | Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center

    The dinner provides an opportunity to view the Center’s Parker exhibit from the Sonny Gibson Collection and listen to a performance by the Elderstatemen of Kansas City Jazz, Little Big Band and the inspiring personal perspective of Parker by jazz historian Sonny Gibson. The event is free. Early RSVPs are encouraged.

    Bird’s Blindfold Test: A Jazz Listening Party

    Monday, August 20 | 6:30-10 pm | Westport Coffee House

    The “edutainment" program (educational while entertaining) will offer an engaging discussion and listening test with stories linked to Parker’s recordings. KC Jazz Orchestra Artistic Director Clint Ashlock notes: “this fun/provocative listening format provides a riveting experience for all jazz listeners.” The event will also feature the Midnight Blue Jazz Quartet and Friends in a jazz CD release concert, offering a lite motif rendition of the Parker standard, “Now's the Time." Cost: $10 (admission + special Bird’s Blindfold sandwich). Go here for tickets.

    More information forthcoming about two networking events:

    Urban Core: Networking for Bird- Wednesday, August 22 | 5:30–7:30 pm | BAC Horn Doctor
    Kansas City Jazz Meet Up- Thursday, August 23 | 5:30–7:30 pm | KC Bier Co.


    Lonnie McFadden, born and raised in Kansas City, is a unique multi-talented performer who sings, tap dances and plays trumpet. Lonnie has traveled the globe performing/representing KC Jazz at major jazz festivals and shows. His performances have included such events as the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland and the Nice Jazz Festival in Nice, France. They have been entertaining since they were in elementary school, learning their licks from their father, hoofer and versatile entertainer Smilin’ Jimmy McFadden. In 2016 the Brothers received Life Time Achievement Awards from the American Jazz Museum.

    Lonnie and his brother Ronald McFadden (The McFadden Brothers) have shared the stage with some of the biggest names in show business: Wayne Newton, Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Orlando, Lee Greenwood, Gladys Knight and the Count Basie Orchestra. Lonnie has performed at the MGM Grand and Hilton casinos/ Las Vegas, Trump Taj Mahal/Atlantic City, Nimes (France) Coliseum and Lincoln Center/New York.

    Tivon Pennicott is a 3-time Grammy winner and a second-place winner in the prestigious Thelonius Monk Competition. His leadership showcases his tenacity as a player, while also providing a forum for his audacious compositions. Pennicott’s unique style incorporates his attention to rhythm, tasteful melodic lines and his deep understanding of the importance of the groove. His maturity extends beyond his years, facilitating music that is refreshing, insightful, and deliciously exciting.

    Originally from Georgia, and a University of Miami graduate, he moved to New York in 2009. He’s collaborated with a variety of bandleaders on tours or with their recording projects. This includes Grammy winner Gregory Porter, appearing on his albums Be Good, Liquid Spirit, and Take Me to the Alley, to Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding. He has toured with drummer Al Foster, Roy Hargrove's RH Factor, Roy Hargrove Big Band, jazz songstress Nellie Mckay, and central figures in the contemporary jazz scene, such as Ari Hoenig, E.J. Strickland, Marko Djordevic. He has been touring in Europe with Porter most of 2018. The New York Times called him a “smart young musician” and a “self-assured tenor saxophonist.”

    About Charlie “Yardbird" Parker

    Parker was born in 1920 in Kansas City, Kan., and in 1927 moved to Kansas City, Mo., where jazz was flourishing. KCMO was one of several spots instrumental in ushering in the musical improvisation style of Bebop, for which Parker is identified. Parker's early music lessons occurred in the KC public schools. He began playing alto sax at age 13 and worked occasionally with semi-professional groups before leaving school at age 15 and becoming a full-time musician.

    For the next four years he would perform primarily in KC with a variety of local blues and jazz groups. His craft was developed mostly through practical experience and listening to older jazz performers.  He began traveling to other cities in the late 1930s. He joined Jay McShann's band, began touring, and performed solo in many of McShann's recordings and soon prominence followed. For more information about the 5th Annual Charlie Parker Celebration.

    About KC Jazz ALIVE

    The mission of Kansas City Jazz ALIVE is to build AWARENESS, serve as a LISTENING body, provide a platform for integrating IDEAS, function as a VOICE, provide EXPOSURE to resources, and unite the Kansas City jazz community. As a catalyst organization supporting artists, enthusiasts and venue owners, we strive to “raise the tide that lifts all jazz boats.” Kansas City Jazz ALIVE works to make KC the premier destination for jazz and live music where musicians find it a haven for performance; where visitors and residents can expect quality live performances; and where venues can experience economic success.

This story appears courtesy of All About Jazz.
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