By the start of the show, the audience packed every nook and every cranny available. And they paid a cover charge – first time ever here – to do that. When it was announced a weekend cover was something new, the crowd applauded.
This must be Bizarro Jazz Club.
But it’s not. It’s Take Five Coffee + Bar, packing ’em in for perhaps the hottest new jazz group in Kansas City, Stan Kessler’s Parallax. With Stan on trumpet, Roger Wilder on keyboards, Bill McKemy on bass, and Ryan Lee and Brian Steever on sometimes complimentary, sometimes dueling drum sets, this audience came for the night’s best jazz.
Think about it, and this night is mostly unbelievable. We’re in a coffee-shop-slash-bar on 151st Street in Leawood, Kansas – this is as suburban as the world gets, folks – and people applaud paying to be packed in sardine-like to hear jazz. Not only that, but when the band starts playing, the audience stops talking to listen to the music. To listen to jazz.
If it’s difficult to praise highly enough the venue Lori and Doug Chandler have grown, likewise it’s hard to say too much about this band. Playing mostly original compositions (though I also loved their take on Monk), Parallax pairs a trio of some of KC jazz’s most experienced and talented musicians with a pair of young drummers driving the band and driving each other to their musical best. The crowd didn’t applaud and cheer because most were standing and could probably only see someone else’s back. We applauded and cheered because this jazz earned it.
You can find out for yourself this Thursday, January 10, when Parallax plays again, at the Westport Coffee House.
Until then, here’s what it looked like on the last Friday of last year at Take Five. As always, clicking on a photo should open a larger version of it.
Parallax. Left to right: Roger Wilder on keyboards, Brian Steever on drums, Bill McKemy on bass, Stan Kessler on trumpet, Ryan Lee on drums.
Trumpeter Stan Kessler. Behind him, drummer Ryan Lee.
Roger Wilder on keyboards. Behind him, drummer Brian Steever.
Bill McKemy, who ususually looks happier than this, on electric bass.
Drummer Ryan Lee
Drummer Brian Steever
Parallax, with Bill McKemy on sousaphone
Leader Stan Kessler
Parallax, when the two drummers square off, at Take Five Coffee + Bar