Kansas City Music History
The Kansas City Musician’s Foundation has actually been understood for its after-hours jams. Initially home to the Black Musicians’ Protective Union Local 627 A.F. of M., The Foundation has resistance to alcohol laws and to this day supports an all-night jam every Fri and Sat night.
18th and Vine is the KC jazz district and where the KC Jazz Museum can be situated. The innovative jazz and blues are featured nighttime at clubs across KC. The roadway to swing music began in Kansas City through a series of jazz musicians and legends who sharpened their craft in KC, articulating the blues into a brand-new note– from blues to bebop to swing– in the 18th & Vine St. district, and the 12th and Vine area, jazz and blues received their KC stamp here.
Kansas City, just like New Orleans, has a distinct difference of being a melting pot and a swingin’ capital of Jazz and Blues alike. While Kansas City is typically recognized more for it’s Jazz than it’s Blues, the two sounds often merged and overlapped into jazzy blues jams, making the musical output of the Missouri border city into what is referred to as Kansas City Blues or Jump Blues.
Similar to it’s cross-state counterpart Saint Louis, Kansas City’s blues and musical style played no small part in affecting what would become R&B and Rock n’ Roll in the 1950s. Artists such as Tommy Douglas, Jelly Roll Morton’s sideman, and Big Joe Turner recorded a variety of noteworthy songs with much of the exact same techniques that would later become R&B and Rock, not the least of which was the classic “Shake, Rattle & Roll”. Several well-known blues artists have actually come out of KC or been essential in the advancement of Kansas City Blues. Charlie Parker and William “Count” Basie are a couple worth keeping in mind.
On September 23, 1923, the Bennie Moten Orchestra made its first recording including 8 tunes. By stringent musical standards, the songs themselves were unrefined and very little eliminated from existing blues music. But the Bennie Moten Orchestra would soon construct upon its earliest recordings to develop a distinct Kansas City style of jazz that later dominated allure scene in the late 1930s and 1940s.
Bennie Moten was born on December 13, 1893. Throughout his youth, Moten’s household resided on either Michigan or Woodland streets near the bulk of Kansas City’s dance halls. Ultimately dropping out of high school, Moten pursued a musical profession. He found out ragtime piano and became a good piano player. In 1918, Moten joined with drummer Dude Langford and vocalist Bailey Handcock to form Moten’s first band, the B. B. and D. trio, or just “B. B. and D.”
B. B. and D. started with a gig at the Labor Temple, an essential meeting place for Kansas City’s African American community in addition to for local labor leaders, both black and white. Between 1918 and 1922, B. B. and D.’s efficiencies ended up being a staple of a successful jazz scene that was a fantastic source of pride within the black community. By 1922, the group appears to have altered its name to “B. B. and B.,” and Moten was acting as its manager.
Moten shrewdly hired some of the most appealing musicians in Kansas City to bring them within one band. In 1923 the group formally became the “Bennie Moten Orchestra,” Kansas City’s very first great jazz band.
On September 23, 1923, the Bennie Moten Orchestra became the very first Kansas City band to make a phonograph recording of its tunes. With the aid of Kansas City’s Winston Holmes Music Store, which formerly focused on blues records, the orchestra arranged a recording session in Chicago with the Okeh Recording Company. The songs were an early type of jazz that really just added extra beats to blues tunes. They consisted of ‘Selma ‘Bama Blues,’ ‘Chattanooga Blues,’ ‘Break o’ Day Blues,’ ‘Evil Mama Blues,’ ‘Elephant’s Wobble,’ ‘Crawdad Blues,’ ‘Waco Texas Blues,’ and ‘Ill-Natured Blues.’
This first recording session would have been unremarkable were it not for the continued evolution of the orchestra’s style after 1923. Moten continued strongly employing the very best performers he could discover, and their kind of jazz grew into a few of the finest examples of huge band swing. Their music became known as the “Kansas City design,” defined by intricate rhythms, thoroughly restrained drum beats, and particularly riffs. Riffs referred to the practice of using rhythms to accompany the musicians who became the main focus.
Kansas City’s golden age of jazz prospered in this environment. By the 1940s, the Kansas City style of jazz had actually spread out throughout America, playing in important function in shaping modern music.
Regretfully, Bennie Moten did not live to see his broader effect on jazz. Instead, he died at Wheatley-Provident Hospital during what should have been a routine surgery to remove his tonsils in 1935. Many of the musicians in the Bennie Moten Orchestra followed a talented pianist called William “Count” Basie, who himself had actually been a part of Moten’s band. Count Basie and atrioventricular bundles went on to eclipse Bennie Moten’s popularity. In 1937, Basie transferred to Chicago and then New York, bringing Kansas City jazz to national prominence while doing so.
Basie carried on the Kansas City jazz design till his death in the 1980s. While doing so, the Kansas City design combined with national jazz trends and motivated artists such as swing artist Benny Goodman and jazz musician Charlie Parker. Kansas City’s nightlife decreased precipitously after the fall of the Pendergast machine, and the golden age of jazz in Kansas City ended in the 1940s. Jazz historian Nathan W. Pearson, Jr. possibly best sums up the midpoint of Bennie Moten to this golden age of jazz: “Among Kansas City artists … the city, the design, and the era of its blooming are practically associated with the Bennie Moten Orchestra.”
The roadway to swing music began in Kansas City through a series of jazz artists and legends who refined their craft in KC, articulating the blues into a new note– from blues to bebop to swing– in the 18th & Vine St. district, and the 12th and Vine location, jazz and blues got their KC stamp here.
The Bennie Moten Orchestra would soon build upon its earliest recordings to establish an unique Kansas City design of jazz that later dominated the jazz scene in the late 1930s and 1940s.
In the procedure, the Kansas City design combined with national jazz patterns and motivated artists such as swing musician Benny Goodman and jazz musician Charlie Parker. Kansas City’s night life decreased precipitously after the fall of the Pendergast machine, and the golden age of jazz in Kansas City ended in the 1940s. Jazz historian Nathan W. Pearson, Jr. possibly best sums up the centrality of Bennie Moten to this golden age of jazz: “Among Kansas City musicians … the city, the style, and the era of its flowering are essentially associated with the Bennie Moten Orchestra.”