philosophy of improvisation: the faith in the purity of the long line; the avoidance of licks and emotional chain-pulling; and, the concentration on endlessly mining the harmonic and melodic possibilities within the music.
SCENE BUILDING | PAYING DUES
Returning home to the Kansas City metropolitan area in 2001, Mr. Burnett was quickly introduced to the realities of what was necessary toward engaging a professional performing artist career in music after completing 22 years with US military bands.
As an active member of the American Federation of Musicians (Kansas City Local 34-627) since 2001, Mr. Burnett remains an advocate for scene building activities that contribute toward working professional musicians having opportunities that produce a living wage, humane work conditions and fair treatment.
He attended numerous jam sessions in Kansas City’s 18th & Vine Jazz District at The Blue Room and Mutual Musicians Foundation, while accepting most any offers received for work as a woodwind player sideman in other musicians’ bands.
Mr. Burnett even enjoyed playing with semi-pro ensembles such as community wind ensembles or old-style big bands; and, he continues to do so when his time allows.
His first job as a professional leader, hosting one of the Blue Monday Jams at the Blue Room in 2004, took three years to obtain. Most venues rarely give opportunities to new leaders on the scene without their already having steady work – a paradox and ambiguous situation that most band leaders seem to face at some point.
CHRIS BURNETT QUARTET (CbQ)
Ultimately, Chris Burnett’s first regular work for his own groups as a leader came in 2006 from The Drum Room, which is located in its original historic venue – the Hilton President Hotel at 14th and Baltimore in Kansas City. The President Hotel had just undergone a major renovation and was literally a new venue for live music.
A ground floor jazz opportunity. Mr. Burnett was a featured artist and maintained a residency on the First Saturday of each month for over two years. His group performs modern instrumental jazz, not watered-down in the least from a creative artistic perspective. A positive response to the music of CbQ developed through tangible support and appreciation from the local fans, the international patrons of the Hilton President Hotel and the management staff as well.
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APPLIED PERFORMANCE: CbQ spontaneous rendition of the classic jazz standard, “All The Things You Are” to start a set of background jazz music at the historic Drum Room in Kansas City…
THE DRUM ROOM – 2007 | ARTISTS: Chris Burnett, alto saxophone; Roger Wilder, piano; Jeff Harshbarger, bass; and Brandon Draper, drum set.
HISTORIC VENUE: The Drum Room Restaurant, located in the historic Hilton President Kansas City, is open nightly for dinner and drinks, and daily for lunch. The hotel is in downtown Kansas City, Missouri and is the Official Hotel of the Power & Light Entertainment District. It is just a short walk to the Sprint Center, within walking distance of the Kansas City Convention Center and ideally located across the street from the new H&R Block World Headquarters.
It was the year 1941, the cost of a postage stamp was three cents, the President of the United States was Franklin D Roosevelt, and Pearl Harbor was attacked on the pre-dawn hours of December 7th. The hotel President which opened in 1927 opened the Drum Room.
Imagine looking across the room and seeing such entertainers as Frank Sinatra, Count Basie and Benny Goodman. You may have even seen people such as Charles Lindberg, Ben Siegel or Meyer Lansky.
The Drum Room included a bar in the shape of a drum, and a full service restaurant which featured some of the countries hottest touring musicians. It was the age of Cuban cool, a strong influence of Cuban society was sweeping its way across the country, it was Kansas City’s place to see and be seen. According to a guest who visited the Drum Room in 1948 “it was just an exciting place to visit, it was the coolest place in town and everyone knew it”.
The Drum Room, now an upscale cosmopolitan restaurant & lounge, has re-opened and the atmosphere is just as cool as it was in 1941. Who knows, you just might feel the spirits of the Rat Pack or Duke Ellington when you swing by.
Other celebrity appearances in this historic venue include Sammy Davis Jr., Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, The Marx Brothers and Pasty Cline.
THE DRUM ROOM TODAY
TODAY: THE DRUM ROOM | Once a very famous jazz venue, now is a restaurant and lounge only. Mr. Burnett played a standing gig there on the first Saturdays of each month for a couple of years. Having a regular place to perform helped introduce him to the Kansas City jazz scene and provided a regular opportunity to perform jazz with his groups. It was cool. It is a shame that a venue with such genuine history no longer has any live jazz at all.
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