Our 2018 Jazz Artist information will be available soon. Meanwhile, view our 2017 Artists below!
Karrin Allyson and her KC All Stars
Karrin Allyson – vocals
Stan Kessler – trumpet/flugel horn
Miro Sprague – piano and Rhodes
Gerald Spaits – bass
Todd Strait – drums
June 12, 2017 – 7:30pm
lead it. She’s such an otherworldly talent that the creator probably already has her on heavy rotation.”
nominations, and a recent self-produced holiday album, Yuletide Hideaway that won four stars from
recording studio with for a very intimate look at the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein. For Karrin, who actually played Nelly Forbush in a production of South Pacific as a teenager this album is a return. “I’ve been all around the world musically, from bop and bossa and chanson to blues and singer-songwriters. And now, I feel like coming home. I find myself powerfully drawn to the world of Rodgers and Hammerstein.”
Stan Kessler is a Trumpet / Flugelhorn Player, Band Leader, Clinician, and Educator in the Kansas City area. He also does extensive writing and arranging for smallgroups. Stan also plays drums and hand percussion.
Gerald Spaits, a native of Kansas City, is one of the foremost bass players in the Kansas City area. Spaits has enjoyed an active career including playing with jazz legends Jay McShann and Claude “Fiddler” Williams. Appearing with national recording artists Herb Ellis, Karrin Allyson, Marilyn Maye, Gary Foster, and The Woody Herman Orchestra,among others. He has performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival, the San Jose Jazz Festival, and the World’s Fair in Seville, Spain. Mr. Spaits is the adjunct assistant professor of jazz string bass at the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and leads a bass ensemble at UMKC. He also teaches private lessons.
Gerald is involved in the development and creation of many bands and projects. Composing and arranging for groups including The Gerald Spaits Trio, The Gerald Spaits Quartet, The Westport Art Ensemble, The Kansas City Bass Quartet and his latest project Sax and Violins, a combination of string quartet and jazz quartet.
Gerald has released albums on his own label PASSIT productions including “Three Sides,” “The Westport Art Ensemble,” “Westport Art Ensemble live,” and two albums by KC jazz pianist Russ Long: “Never Let me Go” and “Time to Go.” Gerald has also written instruction books for jazz bass and written arrangements for everything from Big Band to Solo Bass.
Todd Straight was raised in Topeka, KS, and became involved in music in elementary school playing trumpet and drums. Eventually braces pushed the trumpet out of the picture and it’s been drums ever since.
Todd began gigging locally while still in 7th grade, mainly with his father’s group. During his last year of high school he became involved in the 1979 “Louie Bellson/Slingerland National Drum Contest” where he eventually finished in second place at the Las Vegas finals. The scholarships gained from this experience enabled Todd to pursue his dream of moving to the NYC area and studing with Ed Soph in 1980.
Upon relocating to the east coast Todd free-lanced in and around NYC and the Tri-State area, then joined Marian McPartland’s trio in 1982 playing in New York City clubs and traveling occasionally with her across the country. In 1984 he also began playing with guitarists Tal Farlow and Barney Kessel. In ’86 he joined Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd for a 3 month cross-country stint before returning to NYC.
1990 found Todd relocated to Kansas City where a string of important connections were born. Besides gigging in KC and St. Louis with local favorites and visiting “stars”, Todd toured nationally and internationally with Kevin Mahogany from 1995 until 2000, with Karrin Allyson 1995 until 2009, and with Eldar from 1999 until 2008 (See the discography page for related recordings, 3 of which were Grammy Nominees).
In 2002 Todd relocated again, this time to Portland, OR. A typical year of travel consisted of between 200-250 days on the road (between tours with either Eldar or Karrin) so Todd was not around Portland much those first 7 and a half years. But in mid 2009 he finally decided to change gears and stay put for awhile.
Now he is enjoying being away from airplanes and playing with local greats such as PDXV, Greg Goebel’s Trio, Warren Rand, Dan Balmer, and Randy Porter, among many other wonderful musicians in Portland and Seattle. Todd is also building a student base here in Portland. Besides serving as adjunct drumset instructor for UMKC in Kansas City,MO, from 1990-2002, Todd has been a faculty member for several summer jazz camps across the country over the last 20 years and is looking forward to his 10th consecutive year at the KU Jazz Camp in Lawrence, Kansas, this summer. Last year he joined the staff of YMA (Young Musicians and Artists) which holds two week sessions on the campus of Willamette University in Salem, OR. He will continue to serve as one of several adjunct drumset instructors at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, OR, during the school year as he has since 2003.