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Kansas City Boogie-Woogie with Bobby Watson at The Allen Room

- Jazz and Cabaret Corner

KC Boogie-Woogie
With Special Guest, Bobby Watson
Frederick P. Rose Hall
The Allen Room
Broadway at 60th Street
Scott Thompson, Press

Featuring: Bobby Watson’s Boogie-Woogie Jump Band
Bobby Watson, Leader, Alto Sax
Terell Stafford, Trumpet
Robert Kindred, Tenor Sax
Chris Karlic, Baritone Sax
Bram Wijnands, Piano
Oscar “Lucky” Wesley, Bass
Michael Carvin, Drums

And the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 22, 2005

In the elegant new Allen Room, with floor to ceiling windows that overlook Columbus Circle and a good part of the starry NY skyline, one-third of the Kansas City celebration at Jazz at Lincoln Center (two other events occurred at Rose Theater and Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, and the atrium was smoking with complimentary barbecued ribs and cold beer) opened tonight with two musical programs, one with Bobby Watson and the Juilliard Jazz orchestra and the other with an ensemble of some of the best Boogie-Woogie musicians around. In fact, they were so dynamic, that I had an urge to book a flight to Kansas City just to hear more, especially after Bobby Watson’s description of the 24 hour jazz clubs.

Featured in the first half of the program was Bobby Watson on sax, leading the sophisticated 17 piece Juilliard Jazz Orchestra, with the talented Aaron Diehl on piano, who is poised and professional, an artist to watch, Marion Felder on drums, who is always dynamic and improvisational, Paul Vinton on well-blended guitar, Yasushi Nakamura on buoyant bass, and numerous young musicians on trumpets, saxes, and trombones. Mrs. BC, for Betty Carter, by Pamela Watson and Bobby Watson, was a hot swing. Early riffs from Bobby Watson on sax and Nakamura on bass lent energy to this piece.

Always and Forever – Body, Heart, and Soul, arranged by Bram Wijnands, included a trumpet solo with vibrant volume, followed by a jumping trombone. Horizon Reassembled had a mambo, clavé beat with a tenor sax solo. The Orchestra kept this mambo beat timely and danceable. River Jordan, by Bobby Watson, was introduced by a soulful bass, followed by percussive clavé, once more. Watson’s solo sax blended with the Latin infusion.

Swingmatism, by Jay McShann and William Scott, arranged by David Sharp, brought out the ever-changing Allen Room lighting, from reds, to blues, to yellows, and now to yellow and green. This was big band swing, with a sax solo from the lone female member of the orchestra, Sharel Cassity. The Love We Had Yesterday featured Bobby Watson, in a song by his wife, Pamela, arranged by Arthur White. His seasoned style brought a waterfall of notes to this gorgeous song with its magnetic melody. Limoncello, the name of a lovely liqueur, was also written by Bobby Watson, and its jumping, sensational rhythm rocked the Allen Room.

For the second half of this lengthy Kansas City celebration (tonight’s program lasted almost three hours), Wednesday Night Hop, by Leslie Johnakins, featured the virtuosic Terell Stafford on trumpet and Watson on sax. Oscar Wesley on bass sported a beret (as did the pianist, Bram Wijnands), and they were all worth waiting for. 627 Stomp, by Pete Johnson, included numerous piano passages, as well as Wesley’s bass on the song’s full rhythm, which contrasted with Watson’s sax melody and Robert Kindred switching to clarinet. Five intoxicating notes kept repeating with resonance.

Piney Brown Blues, by Joe Turner, brought Bram Wijnands to the mike, and his vocals were truly exceptional and evocative of early jazz recordings. I thought this was one of the highlights of a memorable evening. Stafford, on trumpet, bent down to get the full tone from his towering trumpet, and these were the blues from another era. And, there was more. Coral Reef, by Neal Hefty, again featured Stafford on muted trumpet, and Wijnands broke loose on the keys. Michael Carvin’s wild drum solo led the band into the next piece, composed by Wijnands, called Beret and Hat Pin (aptly titled for this pianist’s unique image), and the Allen Room’s acoustics resounded with vibrancy and verve.

Kudos to Jazz at Lincoln Center for this amazing evening of Kansas City Boogie-Woogie. Check for their current and upcoming jazz calendars.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at