I Surrender Dear - James Carter/Nicholas Payton/Cyrus Chestnut
Queer Notions - David Murray/Russell Malone/Cyrus Chestnut
Lullaby Of The Leaves - Jesse Davis/Clark Gayton/Geri Allen
I Left My Baby - Mark Whitfield/David 'Fathead' Newman/Craig Handy/Curtis Fowlkes
Yeah, Man - Craig Handy/Joshua Redman
Froggy Bottom - Geri Allen/David 'Fathead' Newman/Mark Whitfield
Solitude - Joshua Redman
Pagin' The Devil - Don Byron/Olu Dara/Clark Gayton
Lafayette - Nicholas Payton/James Zollar/Olu Dara
Solitude (Reprise) - Don Byron/Christian McBride/Ron Carter
Robert Altman's Kansas City is basically a 1930s gangster film, but much of the action takes place in the Hey Hey Club, a black-owned nightclub and gambling den where an all-day, all-night jam session is in progress, featu... more »ring such figures as Lester Young (played by Joshua Redman), Hawkins (Craig Handy), Ben Webster (James Carter), Basie (Cyrus Chestnut), Mary Lou Williams (Geri Allen), Hershel Evans (David Murray), Freddie Green (Mark Whitfield), Walter Page (Ron Carter), and Jimmy Rushing (Kevin Mahogany). Kansas City in the mid-1930s was a thriving jazz center and home to legendary bands led by Basie, Bennie Moten, Andy Kirk, and Jay McShann. The music here comes from that period and is done in that style. Producer Hal Willner and music director Butch Morris encouraged a loose atmosphere, with lots of give and take, even shouts of approval, and the musicians respond by playing for the immediate moment, rather than for some dimly imagined history. --Geoffrey Himes« less
Robert Altman's Kansas City is basically a 1930s gangster film, but much of the action takes place in the Hey Hey Club, a black-owned nightclub and gambling den where an all-day, all-night jam session is in progress, featuring such figures as Lester Young (played by Joshua Redman), Hawkins (Craig Handy), Ben Webster (James Carter), Basie (Cyrus Chestnut), Mary Lou Williams (Geri Allen), Hershel Evans (David Murray), Freddie Green (Mark Whitfield), Walter Page (Ron Carter), and Jimmy Rushing (Kevin Mahogany). Kansas City in the mid-1930s was a thriving jazz center and home to legendary bands led by Basie, Bennie Moten, Andy Kirk, and Jay McShann. The music here comes from that period and is done in that style. Producer Hal Willner and music director Butch Morris encouraged a loose atmosphere, with lots of give and take, even shouts of approval, and the musicians respond by playing for the immediate moment, rather than for some dimly imagined history. --Geoffrey Himes
Jason J. from MOORHEAD, MN Reviewed on 11/2/2009...
Have thoroughly enjoyed listening to this CD. The brass band sound is very good.
A successful proposal on how to re-create the past
Denis L. Baggi | Lugano, Switzerland | 05/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an exciting and interesting Jazz CD, because it contains a proposal on how to deal with a problem that has never been entirely solved in jazz: how to re-create past music. In classical music you simply play the score, which contains more or less everything. But the essence of jazz is not in the score, but in all those non-objectifiable elements that are not in the score, namely, those collectively called "swing" (that's why the score is not the document in jazz, but only the recorded piece, which glorifies one particular instant). Hence, how do you solve the problem? Do you play ancient jazz with exactly the same sound and accents (horrible) or do you use modern tricks (maybe kitsch)? Do you repeat note-by-note the original solos or do you play new improvised ones on top of the old arrangements? There have been various attempts: for instance, Lennie Niehaus' system in Clint Eastwood "Bird" to electronically remove ancient rhythm sections and superimpose Parker's solos on new rhythm sections (interesting but terrible). Tavernier with Dexter Gordon in "Round Midnight" skipped the problem and recorded new music.In "Kansas City", instead, we have a fresh approach: that of letting modern jazzmen interpret those pieces. It is clear they pay their dues to the pioneers - the swing and freshness is there to testify this - but at the same time they are not shy about showing off their modern techniques and mastery of the overtones - especially tenor saxophonists, like Joshua Redman and James Carter, the latter being fond of mingling with the elders. Hence, it is as if they had created a virtual, parallel Kansas City of 1934, which is distinct from the real one, but claims the same letters of credit (this reviewer has embarked in the exercise of compiling a CD with the original pieces recorded in the 30's and it is worth one's while to do the comparison).Thus, also the re-created battle between Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young (with the interpreters mentioned above) has to be taken with a grain of salt: it's a fantasy, the ancient ones did not play that way, but the relationship between the two, to some degree, holds.The music is fascinating and stands on its own, but the fact that it represents an attempt of re-creating originals without neither diluting nor betraying their spirit gives to this CD an extra quality that makes it unique."
Extraordinary recreation of Kansas City's heyday
JEAN-MARIE JUIF | BESANCON France | 01/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This soundtrack of Robert Altman's movie is one of my favorite jazz records in the past years.Altman's genial idea for the soundtrack was to put together some of the great musicians of the nineties and let them recreate the music played in K.C. during the thirties, without trying to copy the original versions of the tunes.In fact,any of these musicians was born at that time,except David "Fathead" Newman (born 1934,Texas),who was for years a member of Ray Charles' band.
"Blues in the dark",a 1938 Basie/Rushing tune,is a tenor duel between James Carter and Joshua Redman,remembering the famous Lester Young/Coleman Hawkins tenor battles."Moten swing",written in 1932 by Benny Moten,is played with great swing and features Jesse Davis' alto sax and James Carter.The rhythm section,made of Geri Allen,Mark Whitfield,Chris McBride and Victor Lewis reminds of the imperial Greene/Jones/Page/Basie team."I surrender dear" is a tribute to Coleman Hawkins' magnificent version of May 25,1940;the young Nicholas Payton has the opportunity for a great solo,in which he sounds just like the immense Roy Eldridge."Queer notions" was written by Hawkins when he was a member of Fletcher Henderson's orchestra;the tenor solo is played by David Murray."Lullaby of the leaves" features the great piano of the beautiful Geri Allen,and efforts by Jesse Davis and trombonist Clark Gayton. "I left my baby" may be the highlight of the record;this Basie/Rushing blues is played with ferocity.After Kevin Mahogany's vocal,the band goes into a wild,down hearted playing,with shining and rough solos by Newman,Craig Handy,and the outstanding Curtis Fowlkes on trombone."Yeah,man",a Noble Sissle original,was played by Henderson's band,and features here the tenors of Handy and Redman for another tenor battle."Froggy bottom",arranged by MaryLou Williams for Andy Kirk's band,is a perfect vehicle for Geri Allen's talented touch and David Newman's blues-rooted sax."Pagin' the devil",a 1938 Walter Page/Eddie Durham blues,featured Lester Young on clarinet;Don Byron plays the blackstick here,followed by Olu Dara on cornet and Clark Gayton."Lafayette" ,a Basie/Durham tune,is the occasion for a trumpet battle,and features Payton,Dara and James Zollar . Finally,there are two versions of Duke Ellington's "Solitude";the first one features Joshua Redman,the second has solos by Don Byron,Chris McBride and Ron Carter.
I hope many of you will be fascinated by this extraordinary tribute to the elders of jazz;it could have looked like a museum,with nostalgia and some dust;but it appears like a pure moment of madness and swing and youth too.Just sit down at the Hey Hey Club and enjoy beeing back to the mythic K.C. !"
Old Skool by The New Skool
C.B. Derrick | From the 2.20 Aspect Ratio | 01/05/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At first listen, one will be hooked! I can't think of a better jazz soundtrack and I can't think of a post-70s jazz all-star recording that burns on EVERY SINGLE track. To hear cool cats like Nicholas Payton, Joshua Redman, Mark Whitfield and others in the new generation handle this watershed music with such fluidity lets the old fan and new recognize that jazz will transcend. The follow-up KC AFTER DARK: More Music from Robert Altman's Kansas City is equally energetic, expressive and ebuillent. All read the linernotes on how this recording was done in the confines of the movie being made."
Swing, swing, swing!
Robert M. Emanuel | Tucson, AZ United States | 03/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though the movie is painful to watch, its soundtrack is stunning! Like movies where the script was written around the already-planned special effects (MI2 for instance), Altman wanted to craft his work to highlight the music of the era. However, while these special effects movies then become eye-candy, "Kansas City" produces its own sweets: soul-candy! There is not a poor track on the CD. By far, James Carter's rendition of Ben Webster's solo on "Blues in the Dark" is really a high point. The band's rendition of Basie's ahead-of-its-time "Queer Notions" is also absolutely spine tingling when listened to at the right volume. Like sitting in the Hey Hey club in 1937, not 6 feet from the smokey stage. Faithful and respectful to a golden moment and place for jazz, this is not an album for the faint at heart"
Hang Out at the Hey Hey Club
A. Blasko | Arlington VA | 02/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I didn't like Altman's movie at all. But my God, this soundtrack is amazing. Between the swing and bebop eras of jazz was Kansas City -- and you can hear strains of both genres in this album. The music can be loud, racuous -- and a hell of a lot of fun. It also can be soulful and sweet.
This is what jazz is all about. And, like other reviewers, I've put this on at parties and people have also asked me what this was. It stands out that much musically and it's worth every penny.