Charlie Parker Memorial Concert

You know what’s wrong with jazz in Kansas City? Shows like this. Don’t get me wrong — we should be proud that several in the pantheon of jazz greats got their humble starts here. But when tribute gigs garner more attention than the street-level folks busting ass on a regular basis to innovate and educate, we’re feeding the tourist-trap jazzers. Lucky for us, folks like saxophonist Charles McPherson — the musical stand-in for Parker in Clint Eastwood’s 1988 biopic Bird — and trumpeter Tom Harrell have the incredible skills for paying homage to arguably the biggest innovator within the genre and to shine some contemporary light on a community that often elevates the past while simultaneously denigrating the future. Maybe if Bird were alive today — at 83, he’d be only two months older than the still-spry Dave Brubeck — he would be paying tribute to those who pay homage by emulating him.

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