Jazz in the City: Kansas City


Kansas City and jazz are as inseparable as Kansas City and its BBQ; it’s a part of the city fabric. The vibrations of contemporary jazz echo throughout the many venues, and there is plenty of local talent.

Earnest on the Saxaphone

Meet Earnest. Rumor has it that this 16 year old has been coming down to the Blue Room to play his saxophone since he was 13. Well…this young man was running the stage and blowing it up.

Kansas City Jazz is defined by its bebopping free-flowing style. The term “jam session” originated in Kansas City at the Mutual Musicians’ Foundation, in the heart of the 18th and Vine District. Founded in 1917, the Foundation was a union for black musicians and since the 1930’s performers have gathered there for jam sessions every Friday and Saturday night that lasts to the early morning hours. It still attracts everyone from seasoned local performers to big-name acts.

American Jazz Museum Ella Fitzgerald

Celebrating Ella Fitzgerald at the American Jazz Museum

Jazz Museum Jazz Film Collection

The John Baker collections is the largest and most comprehensive collections of early and rare jazz films.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend the jam sessions at the Foundation, however, I did have the pleasure of being at Blue Monday Jam, at The Blue Room. The Blue Room is the jazz lounge that is part of the American Jazz Museum. By day, you can put on some headsets and be carried away by the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, and Charlie “Bird” Parker. Then come back in the evening when The Blue Room is jammin’ with some of the best jazz in the country.

Even though it was a Monday night, the Blue Room still had a nice sized crowd. Blue Monday Jam is open to any musician that wants to join in the session.The environment is intimate and friendly, and everyone mingles; young and old, men and women, and black and white, on and off the stage.

The Blue Room Audience

Blue Monday Jam audience at The Blue Room.

There are numerous venues in the city where you can experience local jazz. Many of them are close to the city center, and are free, or next to free (meaning inexpensive).

I suggest picking up a copy of “Jam” magazine. It’s a bi-monthly magazine published by the KC Jazz Ambassadors, an organization dedicated to the development and promotion of Kansas City jazz. It will give you information on all the latest happenings, and where to go.

"Subscribe to the blog!!"
"Don't miss any updates!!" Sign up for: ✈ Travel Inspiration ✈ Destination Information ✈ Travel Tips ✈
About Terri Lundberg

Terri Lundberg is an American expat currently residing with her husband in Saudi Arabia, but she calls Seattle and San Diego home. She’s a travel writer, an avid photographer and is a resource and cross cultural trainer to expats relocating to Saudi Arabia. She's been to 100 destinations, 30 countries, and counting.


  1. Roland Lundberg says:

    Jazz is a great art form, specially bebop