Kansas City: American Jazz Walk of Fame Concert

Wow, I wish you had been there!  You’ve heard me say that before, and I mean it every time… but did I say that about singing in the rose garden for President Obama and family and administration on International Jazz Day a month ago? Well, I mean it.

Congressman Cleaver coined the term “somebodyness,” and it seems to refer especially to Kansas City’s efforts to acknowledge some special activities and achievements that came out of black communities. They opened the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and more recently the American Jazz Walk of Fame. There are so many recognizable names and faces of jazz greats, who either were born and lived in Kansas City, or who began their international careers in Kansas City. And, if you open this whole subject matter to include St Louis, Missouri, then the importance and impact of this community is huge. Look out, New Orleans! I was at the Baseball Museum’s opening, and now I’ve been a part of an induction ceremony this weekend.

I shared an evening’s performance with Ellis Marsalis and Queen Bey. The evening was electric. Everybody seemed plugged in, and in the verge of jumping out of their seats. They didn’t miss a lick, and Congressman Cleaver and Alcee Hastings with his classy and classic white suit, were right down in front, first ones to clap hands and dance. Sometimes, supercharged evenings like this are disappointing… maybe too much hype. Well, not this time! Everybody was in the zone. Athletes talk about the zone and go there all the time. I do, too. It happened in Kansas City. I sang the right things, I made the right comments, I pushed and pulled at the right time, and the band was smokin’, and right there with me!

An outstanding moment for me was when after several Jarreau pieces, R&B’ish and pop, we did our quiet, poignant version of one of the greatest jazz songs of all time – “The Midnight Sun.” We weren’t done, and went on to do “We’re in this Love Together,” and “Roof Garden.” What a night! They stood up and ovationed us. Thank you, Kansas City. It’s so wonderful to be with you again. A special thanks to the American Jazz Walk of Fame, Congressman Cleaver, Alcee Hastings, Gayle Holliday, and the JDRC. Let’s do it again.



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