We were invited by Mrs. Betty Crow to record some stories at the Mutual Musicians Foundation in the historical 18th & Vine jazz district of Kansas City.
Established in 1917, many Kansas City jazz cats belonged to Local No. 627, an African-American musicians union affiliated with the American Federation of Musicians. The best KC jazz can still be found here on Friday and Saturday nights, starting at 1am and going till 5 am, way past our bedtime.
Drummer Horace Eugene Washington and Garland Smith (pictured here) shared their favorite memories of the KC jazz scene and their definition of music which Horace explained as “organized noise.”
Singer Myra Taylor and longtime friend Pearl Thuston Brown reminisced about their favorite gigs, recording sessions and neighborhood characters.
Pearl was quite the sensation as a piano player in the style of Erroll Garner, whom she once replaced on a New York bill when Erroll couldn’t perform.
Here Myra Taylor sings along with Charlie Parker (far left). The “Bird” was Kansas City’s most nationally acclaimed musician and he cut his chops playing at the Local 627 starting in 1936. At the age of 90, Taylor occasionally performs and even visits the recording studio. Her most recent album, My Night to Dream, was released in 2001.