One of Kansas City’s most creative musicians I try not to miss, Mark Southerland often produces performances under the rubric Snuff Jazz. Last time I caught him — he performs so often, I fail in my ambition — was at Kansas City’s new and fashionable R Bar, in the West Bottoms, where so many cattle once became beef.
Mark is an artist of many gifts, but here I’ll focus on two that sprang out on Thursday, October 14th. First, he’s a fabulous host. This night, he and two of his regular collaborators in Snuff Jazz welcomed Sait Arat, Kansas City’s most amazing hand-drummer. Hailing from Istanbul, Arat has been a regular in Alaturka, KC’s unique Turkish jazz ensemble. Playing with Snuff cut him loose from even the loose strictures of Alaturka, releasing the most amazing hand-drumming I’ve ever witnessed. I say witnessed because it was as amazing to see Sait’s hands practically disappear, like hummingbird’s wings, as it is to hear and feel the exciting result. Catch him whenever you can!
Second, Mark is a very fine and technically accomplished sax player. This really stood on this evening, because at least by his high standards, he was playing it straight. So often, there’s so much else going on in Mark’s performances — especially when he’s producing sounds with some bizarre sculptural creation — that it’s easy to miss the fact that he’s one of Kansas City’s finest and most interesting jazz players. (And that, of course, is saying something.)
Not knowing precisely what to expect is one of the joys of Snuff Jazz. But expecgting some kind of joy, I’ve never been disappointed: Catch them (they’re always plural) when you can, too!