Kansas City Jazz: A Pictorial Tour

August 29th, 2006


Kansas City Jazz:

A Pictorial Tour


In cooperation with Frank Driggs and Chuck Haddix, authors of Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop — a look at the fascinating history of Kansas City’s golden age through book excerpts, photos and music


All photos and book excerpts used with the permission of Frank Driggs, author of Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop — A History




“Don’t hang your head when you see those six pretty horses pullin’ me.
Put a twenty-dollar silver piece on my watch chain,
Look at the smile on my face,
And sing a little song to let the world know I’m really free.
Don’t cry for me, ’cause I’m going to Kansas City.”

– Music by Charlie Parker and lyrics by King Pleasure, Parker’s Mood ,” 1953

photo Driggs Collection

Downtown Kansas City in the 1920s


“If you want to see some sin, forget Paris and go to Kansas City. With the possible exception of such renowned centers as Singapore and Port Said, Kansas City has the greatest sin industry in the world.”

– Edward Murrow of the Omaha World-Hearld


Kansas City Shuffle , by Bennie Moten


photo Driggs Collection

Tom Pendergast and wife, 1936


“Kansas City’s government, ruled from 1911 to 1939 by a Democratic political machine driven by Tom Pendergast, a burly Irishman with a twinkle in his eye, fostered the wanton nightlife rife with gambling, prostitution, and bootlegging.

“Tom Pendergast was the man who made Kansas City the draw for entertainment and nightlife until tax evasion brought him down in 1939.”

– Chuck Haddix and Frank Driggs

courtesy Duncan Schiedt

Coon-Sanders Novelty Orchestra, Kansas City, 1920

Left to right:  Carleton Coon, drums/vocals/co-founder; Carl Nocatero, trombone; Hal McClain, alto sax; Harry Silverstone, violin; Joe Sanders, piano/vocals/co-founder; Harold Thiell, C melody sax; Bob Norfleet, banjo; Clyde Hendrick, trumpet.


“Debuting in 1920, Coon-Sanders relied mainly on novelty work.  Their long run at the Muehlebach Hotel coupled with regular broadcasts overWDAF eventually brought them to Chicago’s Congress Hotel in 1924.”

– Chuck Haddix and Frank Driggs


Yes Sir, That’s My Baby , by the Coon-Sanders Nighthawks



photo Driggs Collection

Loren McMurray, the first star of Kansas City whose fame extended elsewhere, 1922


“McMurray, stout with a lantern jaw and slicked-back brown hair parted down the middle in the style of the day, readily established a reputation as an innovator and outstanding soloist. Clarinetist Cy Dewar rememberd McMurray as ‘one of the finest hot men’ in Kansas City and the ‘first…to play the A-flat also, while everyone was playing the C melody, also the first to start the slap tongue vogue’…A severe case of tonsillitis nipped McMurray’s brilliant career in the bud…[He] died on October 29, 1922, at the age of twenty-five.  News of his death sent shock waves through the music community of Kansas City.”

– Chuck Haddix and Frank Driggs




Share this:

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In This Issue

Jeffrey Stewart, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, is interviewed about Locke (pictured), the father of the Harlem Renaissance.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 19 recommended recordings by five jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

On the Turntable

This month, a playlist of 19 recently released jazz recordings, including those by Branford Marsalis, Joe Martin, Scott Robinson, Allison Au and Warren Vache


In a special collection of poetry, eight poets contribute seventeen poems focused on stories about family, and honoring mothers and fathers

The Joys of Jazz

In this new volume of his podcasts, Bob Hecht presents three very different stories; on Harlem Stride piano, Billy Strayhorn's end-of-life composition "Blood Count," and "Lester-ese," Lester Young’s creative verbal wit and wordplay.

Short Fiction

We had many excellent entrants in our recently concluded 50th Short Fiction Contest. In addition to publishing the winning story on March 11, with the consent of the authors, we have published several of the short-listed stories...

“What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?”

Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Neil Tesser, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who write about their favorite album cover art


“Thinking about Homer Plessy” — a photo narrative by Charles Ingham

Jazz History Quiz #127

Before his tragic early death, this trumpeter played with Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, and John Coltrane, and most famously during a 1961 Five Spot gig with Eric Dolphy (pictured). Who is he?

Great Encounters

In this edition, Bob Dylan recalls what Thelonious Monk told him about music at New York’s Blue Note club in c. 1961.


Jerry Jazz Musician regularly publishes a series of posts featuring excerpts of the photography and stories/captions found in Jazz in Available Light by Veryl Oakland. In this edition, Mr. Oakland's photographs and stories feature Stan Getz, Sun Ra, and Carla Bley.


Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell discusses the life of the important 20th century American artist

Cover Stories with Paul Morris

In this edition, Paul writes about jazz album covers that offer glimpses into intriguing corners of the culture of the 1950’s

Coming Soon

Michael Cuscuna, the legendary record producer and founder of Mosaic Records, is interviewed about his life in jazz...Award-winning photographer Carol Friedman, on her career in the world of New York jazz photography

In the previous issue

Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, talks about her book, and the complex life of her late husband.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 22 recommended recordings by seven jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

Contributing writers

Site Archive