First Baptist Church of KC….And All That Jazz
By Bobbi Daren
Do you enjoy the 18th & Vine district, but not necessarily the drive to get there? Or, maybe you are a lover of live jazz, but not always up for sitting in a dark, crowded room, with so much background noise that, at times, you can barely hear the band?
If you are open to staying in your own neck of the woods while grooving to world-class musicians in a concert-style setting, you just might want to check out the monthly Kansas City Jazz Vespers concerts at the First Baptist Church of Kansas City, located at Wornall Rd and Red Bridge Rd.
This month’s concert features A La Mode on Sunday, February 21, at 6 pm.
What exactly is KC Jazz Vespers
Unlike East Coast-style jazz vespers, which typically integrates jazz music into a religious service, First Baptist sponsors full on, stand-alone Sunday evening (6-8pm) concerts for the community at large. Bands are free to pick their own music without direction, or censure, from the church. According to Pastor Stephen Jones, “Groups love it here, because they can do whatever they want…and play the same kind of popular music that they would play in any other venue.”
The only nod to religion in the entire two-hour program is a brief, non-denominational “inspirational interlude” about halfway in. As Pastor Jones explains, “We are not trying to push our ‘brand’ of religion…it is (meant to be) broad and inclusive.”
In fact, the artists, and even audiences for that matter, also trend towards the multicultural. Case in point is the band featured at this month’s concert. A La Mode is best known for blending Kansas City, Latin-Brazilian, and French with “gypsy” jazz. (You can hear their music on You Tube.)
Future line-up includes Eddie Moore on March 13, Paula Saunders on April 10 and Charles D. Williams on May 15.
What you won’t find is just as important as what you will find….
You won’t find smoking, drinking or lots of conversation during the show – it’s a sanctuary hall after all, not a club. While the show itself may be lacking in “background noise”, attendees and artists are strongly encouraged to “shoot the breeze” during the break and after the show.
What you also won’t find is a cover charge or a ticket fee. Yes, you read that right – the show itself is free – although a free-will offering for the band is taken during intermission.
What you will find at KC Jazz Vespers is state of the art sound and video equipment specifically designed for jazz aficionados. It’s a dynamic presentation meant to draw the audience in with a preference for bands that “know how to work a crowd”. But don’t worry about finding a good seat: the capacity is 400.
So, if you find yourself at the corner of Red Bridge and Wornall some Sunday evening, and you notice the church lights are on, don’t hesitate. Come inside. Because when it comes to KC Jazz Vespers, the old saying is true : “Church ain’t out ‘til they quit singin’!”
Friday, February 19
Souled Out. Music. Valentine’s dinner special offered. Murray’s, 12921 State Line Rd. 8 pm.
Saturday, February 20
Negro League Baseball: Deep Roots of African-Americans in America’s Great Game. Speaker and author Kevin Mitchell. Red Bridge Mid-Continent Library, 11140 Locust St., 2 p.m.
June Bug and the Porch Lights. Live music. The Daily Limit, 523 E. Red Bridge Rd. 8 pm.
Sunday, February 21
KC Jazz Vespers: A La Mode. Live jazz. First Baptist Church of Kansas City, Wornall and Red Bridge Rd. 6 pm. 816-942-1866. Free.