The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra will kick off its 20th annual season on Fri., Sept. 30, with guest trumpeter Sean Jones as a featured artist.
“Sean Jones is arguably the greatest trumpet player on the planet,” said Clint Ashlock, artistic director of the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra.
In 2004, Jones’ career took off when he was offered a permanent position as lead trumpeter with Jazz at Lincoln Center, directed by Wynton Marsalis. In 2015, he was tapped to become a member of the SFJAZZ Collective.
During this time, he has managed to keep a core group of talented musicians together under his leadership, forming the foundation for groups that have produced and released eight recordings on Mack Avenue Records. His most recent is the 2017 release “Sean Jones: Live from Jazz at the Bistro.”
Today, he is the president of Jazz Education Network while he holds the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair in Jazz Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute in Baltimore. The Peabody is the oldest music conservatory in America.
Ashlock describes Jones as very soulful, intelligent, and warm. He considers Jones a “modern jazz trumpet king,” who will share his music, artistry, and humanity.
While Jones is in town, he will also conduct two free master classes for aspiring jazz artists. For more info on classes, visit www.kcjo.org/upcoming-events.
The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra’s 20th anniversary season includes five shows, each featuring great African-American jazz performers, with each of the concerts connecting to a different aspect of jazz. Jones kicks off the season with his performance titled “Horn,” which is inextricably connected with a big band sound.
Jazz vocalist Deborah Brown with her featured performance “Voice” is up next on Thurs., Nov. 10. Brown is a Kansas City native who’s gained most of her fame overseas. She’s recorded in over 50 countries, including 16 albums as a leader.
Kansas City standouts Chloe and Lonnie McFadden’s featured performance “The Family” will be on Tues., Dec. 6. Ashlock says “Family” is a huge deal in jazz because everybody that plays this music feels “a part of a family tree.”
Kansas City vocalists Lee Langston and Eboni Fondren’s featured performance “The Future” will be on Fri., Feb. 24. “The future concert is about education and kind of bridging the gap between a professional performance and then the future of music,” said Ashlock.
The last performance of the season will be “The Roots” on Sat., April 20, and will explore the deep ties of Kansas City Jazz to the Blues as a way to celebrate and honor the roots of the genre.
Ashlock hopes guests leave their performances feeling uplifted and gain an additional perspective of the human experience.
“I hope they feel warm, cared about, and loved. That’s why I play this music to help people feel good,” he said.
Performances are in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. For tickets, visit www.kcjo.org/2022-23-season.
Simone Garza is a Report for America corps member based at The Community Voice covering Wichita’s African-American community.