KCKCC music and audio engineering programs receive five DownBeat student music awards

by Kelly Rogge, KCKCC

Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Music and Audio Engineering programs have been honored not once, not twice, but five times in DownBeat Magazine’s 42nd Annual Student Music Awards.

The Standard Vocal Jazz Ensemble received Community College Outstanding Performance awards in both the Large Vocal Jazz Ensemble and Blues-Pop-Rock Group categories and singer-guitarist Michael Schley was cited as a Community College Outstanding Soloist on The Standard’s recording of “Afro Blue.”

The RSS Trio, featuring drummer Antonio Reyes, organist Mark Slimm and Schley, received a Community College Outstanding Performance award for Small Jazz Combo.

Finally, sound engineer Brady Rose (a 2018 KCKCC graduate) received a Community College Outstanding Recording award for Engineered Studio Recording.

In 2018, no community college received more than two separate awards and in 2017, no community college received more than three.

“Our program is becoming nationally recognized for excellence in jazz and commercial music performance and audio engineering at the two-year collegiate level,” said John Stafford II, associate professor of music and director of The Standard. “We have a strong core of students from all backgrounds, and we have a well-established community within our department – a community where students support one another and want to help each other succeed. I am very proud of our students and department for receiving these honors from DownBeat Magazine. We feel very fortunate and honored to have this opportunity.”

KCKCC was also recognized by DownBeat in both 2017 and 2018. In 2017, The Standard received a Community College Outstanding Performance award for Large Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and audio engineer Jordan Lankhorst received a Community College Outstanding Recording award for Live Studio Recording. In 2018, audio engineer Brady Rose was named the Community College winner in the Engineered Studio Recording Category.

“This level of recognition is remarkable for any school, be it high school, community college or university,” said Dr. Justin Binek, assistant professor of music reflected. “The fact that DownBeat has recognized excellence across all aspects of our programs – vocal, instrumental, large ensemble, small ensemble, solo, audio engineering – is extremely rare, and it makes me so proud of what our students and faculty have been able to achieve.”

These five DownBeat awards represent the culmination of an academic year in which the KCKCC Music and Audio Engineering programs have repeatedly received national recognition. The Standard gave feature performances at the national conferences of both the Jazz Education Network and the National Association for Music Education, and professors Jim Mair (Instrumental Music Program Director), John Stafford II (Choral Music Program Director), Dr. Ian Corbett (Audio Engineering Program Director) and Dr. Justin Binek (Music Theory/Jazz Studies) have traveled extensively both nationally and internationally as performers, teachers, adjudicators and clinicians.

“We are in the midst of very exciting times at KCKCC,” Mair said. “The Choral, Instrumental and Audio programs are firing on all cylinders, and I think we’re just scratching the surface. The DownBeat awards can stay on your résumé for life, regardless of your career path.”

DownBeat Magazine has the widest circulation of any jazz magazine in the United States. Dedicated to “Jazz, Blues, and Beyond,” DownBeat was founded in 1934, and is best known for its album reviews, annual surveys of both readers and critics and its awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, the Hall of Fame and the Album of the Year. The DownBeat Student Music Awards were established in 1978.

“I am very excited about the incredible work being done by our Music and Audio Engineering faculty and students,” Dr. Greg Mosier, KCKCC president, said. “For many years, these programs have produced work that has received national recognition and awards, but receiving five awards from DownBeat Magazine in all of these categories is extraordinary. My congratulations go out to all involved. You sound awesome.”

Jazz summit to be April 23-26 at KCKCC

by Kelly Rogge, KCKCC

Jazz music is filling Kansas City Kansas Community College this week as the 2019 Kansas City Jazz Summit returns to the main campus.


The Jazz Summit is 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 23 to 26 in the KCKCC Performing Arts Center, 7250 State Ave. The event, which is produced by the Kansas City Jazz Alliance, is free and open to the public.


The Jazz Summit caters to jazz groups at the middle school, high school and college level in both competitive and non-competitive sessions. It is a collaborative effort between the KCKCC Music Department, Audio Engineering Department, Theater and the Intercultural Center. Awards are given for outstanding soloists, woodwinds, brass and rhythm section performers.


There are three levels of participation. These include:


• Jazz Summit. A non-competitive group where jazz groups perform for adjudicators. No winners are named, but outstanding groups and soloists are recognized. Groups that participate in this category receive a plaque or trophy.


• Kansas City Jazz Heritage – “Basically Basie.” This is a competitive category on Thursday of the Jazz Summit. Groups are required to pick three songs from an established list of Count Basie repertoire. These selections must have been recorded by the Count Basie Orchestra. Judging is based on the authenticity and attention to detail. The top two groups will compete for audience voting, which is done by text message. The winning group receives a cash prize as well as a traveling plaque. Olathe Northwest High School Raven Jazz I won the competition last year.


• Jazz Tyro. This is specifically designed for younger bands with little experience. Those that participate receive positive comments as well as a clinic following their performance.


Each day, groups from throughout the region perform. Local schools attending the Jazz Summit include Wyandotte High School, Turner High School, Washington High School, Harmon, Schlagle, Lansing, Basehor-Linwood, Tonganoxie, Blue Valley North, Blue Valley Northwest, Blue Valley Southwest, Olathe West, Olathe East, Olathe North and Olathe Northwest. In addition, KCKCC ensembles, including the Fusion Vocal Ensemble, Vocal Lab, The Standard and Funk Band will perform the first day of the summit.


Clinicians for the summit include Jim Mackay from Winnipeg, Manitoba; Scott Prebys from Bismarck, N.D.; Harold Jones from San Francisco, Calif.; Bill Richardson from Northwest Missouri State University; Todd Hastings from Pittsburg State University; Chris Burnett from Leavenworth, Kan. and vocal jazz specialists Mike Engelhardt and Paul Langford. For complete schedules for all three days of the event, visit www.kansascityjazz.org/kansascityjazzsummit.html.

$500 million arts and entertainment project proposed near Kansas Speedway in Bonner Springs

The preliminary development plan and plat for Bonner Crossing, a mixed-use arts and entertainment district proposed for the southwest corner of 118th and State Avenue in Bonner Springs.

A $500 million arts and entertainment project is proposed for 118th and State Avenue in Bonner Springs.

The 180-acre Bonner Crossing project for the southwest corner of 118th and State, which is near the Kansas Speedway, moved forward at the Bonner Springs Planning Commission on Tuesday night.

Amber McCullough, Bonner Springs community and economic development director, said the project was approved and next will go to the Bonner Springs City Council for approval. It will be either the April 22 meeting or the May 13 meeting.

McCullough said the preliminary plat, rezoning and special use permit for a subdivision, Bonner Crossing, a mixed-use arts and entertainment district with some residential, was considered on Tuesday night.

The project includes a concert pavilion, e-sports venue, performing arts venue, as well as a technology component. It also includes a for-profit college and arts and entertainment campus.

The developer is The Solutions Group from Shawnee, Kansas, and the project’s engineer is CFS Engineers of Kansas City, Missouri. The architects are HOK Group and NSPJ Architects.

The performing arts campus is shown on the plat as Velocity Arts, an Atlanta college.

Currently, the land is undeveloped, zoned agricultural, and the proposed use is mixed use, according to planning documents. The project is in keeping with the mixed-use zoning recommended for future developments at that location.

The Kansas Speedway, in Kansas City, Kansas, is nearby. To the east is the city of Edwardsville. To the west of the proposed project are some apartments, and Wyandotte County Park at Bonner Springs. The existing Providence Medical Center amphitheater is located west of Wyandotte County Park.

The northern part of the development would be the arts and entertainment campus, according to planning documents.

The southern part of the development would have townhomes, multi-family apartments, assisted living and memory care facilities, as well as an independent living community, according to planning documents. About 1,000 total dwelling units are planned.

There also is space in the development for retail shops, professional offices, medical office building, and restaurants, according to the planning documents.

The development lists a total of two hotels. Some dormitories would be included in the campus planning.

The proposed concert pavilion is about 14.54 acres, planning documents stated. It would have 14,800 seats and is described in planning documents as the region’s first “indoor-outdoor venue.” It would have retractable walls.

There are still some details to be worked out in this project, with some variance requests granted and a parking reduction request pending, McCullough said.

Plans for this new development are contained in the agenda online at https://www.bonnersprings.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/706.