Like all last sets, Turrell's midnight finale at the Red Vine is his mellowest and best. He effortlessly retraces three-quarters of a century in one smooth fusion number, using tools made on Vine: syncopated swing, boogie woogie and be-bop. As he arches back for one last note, the crowd reaches back with him, relaxing on the axis on the wheel of life.
Christine H. O'Toole is a freelance writer in Pittsburgh.
Jazz notes fill the 18th and Vine area, with the Blue Room and Gem Theater.
(Christine H. O'toole)
Details: K.C.'s Vine District
GETTING THERE: US Airways, Midwest, American and United are among the airlines offering service from Washington to Kansas City, Mo., with round-trip fares starting at about $225, with restrictions. The easiest way to get to "The Vine" district at 18th and Vine is by cab, less than 10 minutes from downtown and the convention center.
WHERE TO STAY: No hotels are in the 18th and Vine area, but major chains are a short cab ride away, including the Marriott Downtown (200 W. 12th St., 800-228-9290, www.marriott.com), the Hyatt Regency at Crown Center (2345 McGee St., 800-233-1234, www.crowncenter.hyatt.com) and the Westin Crown Center Hotel (1 Pershing Rd., 800-228-3000, www.starwoodhotels.com).
WHERE TO EAT: The Red Vine (1700 E. 18th St.) is a great place to mix jazz and food in three spacious rooms. Sandwiches start at $10; entrees, including crawfish pie, etouffee and fried seafood, run $13 to $29. Live entertainment is offered Wednesday through Saturday ($5 cover charge Fridays and Saturdays).
The Peach Tree Restaurant (1512 E. 18th St.) offers upscale soul food and Southern specialties. Entrees, such as succulent fried chicken, greens and cornbread, start at $13. Closed Mondays. There's live piano entertainment Thursday through Sunday nights (no cover). For other options, check with the Kansas City tourism office (see below).
LISTENING TO JAZZ: The Blue Room at the American Jazz Museum (see below) hosts jam sessions Monday evenings and live jazz Thursday through Saturday. Because it's part of the museum, the club is smoke-free. There's a $5 cover charge on Friday and Saturday nights and for special events. The Gem Theater, operated by the museum, is directly across 18th Street. The Gem hosts its Masters of Jazz series monthly; upcoming acts include Randy Weston (Jan. 29), Wayne Henderson & the Jazz Crusaders (Feb. 12), Herbie Hancock (March 2) and Wynton Marsalis (March 18). Ticket prices range from $26 to $45.
For tickets and a schedule of events at both venues, contact the museum.
The Mutual Musicians Association (1823 Highland Ave., 816-471-5212) offers late-night jam sessions on Saturdays; dress is casual, and donations are welcome.
For information on upcoming performances in The Vine, check out the The Pitch (www.pitch.com), a free weekly tabloid that provides a comprehensive guide to the club scene. You can find it at airports, restaurants, hotels, etc.
MUSEUMS: The American Jazz Museum (1616 E. 18th St., 816-474-8463, www.americanjazzmuseum.com) offers a studio experience and a hands-on kids center called the Wee-Bop Room, along with permanent exhibits. It shares space with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (816-221-1920, www.nlbm.com), which traces the history of segregated pro leagues from 1900 to 1960. Museum admissions are $6 apiece; combination tickets are $8. A permanent African American history exhibit and an art gallery near the entrance are free.
INFO: Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Kansas City, 800-767-7700, www.visitkc.com.
-- Christine H. O'Toole