Kansas City · Music · Opinions

Smilin’ at the Phoenix Jazz Club

Parked at the Phoenix at 8th & Central, listening to Michael Pagan and Steve Rigazzi jam playfully.

It’s the Saturday morning Jazz Charity Brunch, this month benefitting Drumm Farm (The Andrew Drumm Institute) in Indpendence. An old gal pal from high school (Hi, Kate!) is the development/fundraiser queen and invited me down to support Drumm Farm. Michael, a musician friend and Sunday morning comrade, told me last week he’d be playing this month’s brunch… Consider me there!

Now, here I sit on a gorgeous weekend morning, taking in the velvety voice of Millie Edwards crooning “Blue Skies.” The room is bustling, chatting, laughing, eating, enjoying the free cocktail with their brunch. Lovely.

Everyone that comes in the door gets a greeting fit for family: a cheer and a grin from ear-to-ear. As Steve and Michael — nicknamed “Pagarazzi” when they gig together — warm up with a few instrumental tunes, Millie sits beside me at the bar and we chat. I tell her about the epiphany I had on Thursday.

World Day of Prayer, September 9th, Unity Village turns back on the long silent fountains in the Rose Garden. Among the celebration festivities, a vocal group from New York City’s Unity church (dubbed by their minister as a “metaphysical Manhattan Transfer” – ha!) performed at the closing concert. Six beautiful voices. Six talented and professional vocalists that performed free of charge because they wanted to be present at this important event. And everyone of them genuine New Yorkers with their Broadway facial expressions, jazz hands and indulgent runs.  Even the guitarist for the group did a decorative solo that would put Christina Aguilera’s vocal runs to shame. (Christina, you know I love you.)

I thought of Unity Village Chapel’s Sunday morning services. I sing backup for a variety of guest/featured soloists on Sundays. I love being a part of the sound, the praise, the camaraderie and I am always awed at the incredible talent we have on stage every week. The talent we have every week rivals any stage out there. Every Sunday, we have Kansas-City-Jazz musicians with spirit, humor, energy… and humility. We have no stand-out egos. Walt, our guitarist will do a guitar solo and I defy you not to smile in admiration. He shows his stuff without showing off and the only giveaway that he’s loving it up is the slight tip up of an eyebrow.

“Kansas City doesn’t know how lucky they are,” Millie points out as I finish telling her my story.
“I don’t think they do!” I agree.
“No,” she corrects me. “They don’t.”

By 11:15a, though, the Phoenix is packed. Talking and laughter threaten to overtake the jazz tunes, just as the trio goes on break.

“All this laughing is making me hungry!” jokes Michael. And as the first round of tables turns over, I sneak out — with a renewed smile on my face — for my next Saturday adventure.

Every second Saturday from 10am-2pm, the Phoenix hosts live music, a huge brunch buffet, and an adult breakfast beverage for $20. Half of all the proceeds go to the beneficiary of the month.  No reservations, just go and enjoy! Check out the Phoenix’ music calendar at their site, phoenixjazzkc.com


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