International jazz acts coming back home to KC for Prairie Village Jazz Festival

Deborah Brown rarely plays in Kansas City, but is well-known on the international jazz circuit.
Deborah Brown rarely plays in Kansas City, but is well-known on the international jazz circuit.

Next Saturday, Kansas City native and vocalist Deborah Brown will take the stage as the headliner at the 2014 Prairie Village Jazz Festival, accompanied by saxophonist Joe Lovano.

Earlier this summer, Brown was among the featured performers at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and the Vienne Jazz Festival in France. In April, Lovano was playing gigs in Paris and Austria. A week after his Prairie Village performance, Lovano will be playing a gig in Bogota, Colombia.

Showcasing such internationally recognized talent was the goal of organizers putting together the lineup of this year’s festival, the fifth since its debut in 2010.

“Scheduling begins with the headliners, and I knew where I wanted to start,” wrote Larry Kopitnik, the jazz expert who helped assemble this year’s lineup. “Anyone who has heard Deborah Brown knows her voice is one of the most magnificent in jazz today. But she rarely plays Kansas City, her hometown. Her extraordinary talent is better known in Europe, Asia and Russia, where she performs much of the year.”

It’s a similar story with Kevin Mahogany, who will be playing the set before Brown and Lovano (who will be joined by Terell Stafford on trumpet). Mahogany, who will be accompanied by the Joe Cartwright Trio, is an Kansas City native perhaps better know on the international jazz scene than in his hometown. Earlier this summer, he was playing gigs and teaching in Italy.

“The thing is, we think there’s a good chance there’s not going to be a lot of jazz played in the rest of Kansas City next Saturday night,” said Jazz Fest organizer Jack Shearer. “All the musicians are going to be in Prairie Village. They don’t get a chance to hear these musicians around here, and jazz fans know how good they are.”