Liner Notes: Humorous Intentions - Tim Whitmer & the KC Express
by Chuck Haddix
Fueled by riffs and powered by tight ensemble work, Kansas City jazz rolled across the nation during the mid 1930s. In subsequent years, the gospel of Kansas City jazz spread around the world, impacting the course of jazz music internationally.
A common myth about Kansas City jazz is that the tradition ended in 1940 with the fall of the Pendergast political machine. That obituary was a bit premature, as pianist Tim Whitmer and friends aptly illustrate with "Humorous Intentions" - Kansas City jazz lives! Tim Whitmer and the Kansas City Express are keeping the tradition alive, mere blocks from where it all began in downtown Kansas City. Night after night, Tim's blend of stellar musicianship and entertaining banter delights packed houses at the Phoenix Piano Bar and Grill.
Whitmer has never let his formal musical education interfere with his music. Beginning with the City Light Orchestra, he has led outstanding bands that have showcased both up and coming talent and the many jazz legends who make their home in Kansas City. All these facets of Whitmer's music: the respect for the tradition, the combination of older and younger players and artistic integrity come together on "Humorous Intentions" to create a real gem. Rusty Tucker's exuberant vocal on "Let the Good Times Roll" gets "Humorous Intentions" off to a rollicking start. The title track, an original composition by Whitmer, features a playful musical dialogue between Whitmer and Jim Mair on soprano saxophone.
The perennial, "Kansas City; is punctuated by the half-shouted vocal style of the legendary Speedy Huggins and evokes the intemperate spirit of old Kaycee, Bird's "Little Suede Shoes" begins with a pensive introduction by Whitmer and moves into a bright Latin groove underlined by Chico Battaglia's fine percussion work. "
The three Basie charts "Down for the Count; "Shining Stockings" and "Kansas City Shout" are the perfect vehicles for Jim Mair's big-toned tenor sax. Carmell Jones' outstanding trumpet work on "Shining Stockings" exhibits once again why he is in demand for recording sessions with such jazz luminaries as Horace Silver and Gerald Wilson.
The lovely "Poem for George" is a fitting tribute to Whitmer's mentor George Salisbury, who was an educator and gifted pianist. Sterling interpretations of four standards: "There Will Never Be Another You;” "Summertime;” "Route 66" and "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" round out "Humorous Intentions."
The intention here may be humorous, but Whitmer and the Kansas City Express music is the work of serious artists who succeed as a cohesive unit in working within and adding to a revered tradition, while having a lot of fun in the process.
Chuck Haddix is a writer, Sound Recording Specialist for the Marr Sound Archives in the Miller Nichols Library at the University of Missouri - Kansas City (UMKC) and the host of the "Fish Fry" heard Friday and Saturday nights on Kansas City's Public Radio Station, KCUR FM 89.3.
All compositions except Poem for George recorded and mixed at Chapman Studios, Kansas City, Missouri, January 1992.
Engineer Rich Hanson, Guido Toledo.
Poem for George recorded at Soundtrek Studios, Kansas City, Missouri, November, 1991.
Engineer - Ron Ubel.
Producer and Musical Director
Tim Whitmer, Jim Mair, Pat Morrissey, Carl Bender
Design and Art Direction
Dan White/Lisa Correau
This recording is dedicated to the Whitmer-Falcone family for years of listening, encouraging, and praying. Special dedication to George Salisbury for sitting me down on his porch and teaching me the sounds of the city and the songs of the soul.
Special thanks: Jim Mair, Pat, Carl, Rusty, Lucky, The Big"L", Tommy, Chico, Carmell, Speedy, Kim Park, David Basse, Ed Wilson, John Mallery, Fitzhugh Jenkins, Ethel LeMay, Papa Cone, Salvatore, Colleen, Zach, Petey, Trisha for her endless patience, and all the wonderful people I have met and will meet along the way. Most of all, I thank God for giving me fingers, feelings, and forgiveness. May Spirit always bless the world with music!
Extra credit to: Ron Schoonover, Kevin Heaton, and the world's most beautiful waitresses, bartenders, and hard workers at the Phoenix Piano Bar & Grill, 8th & Central, Kansas City, Missouri.
Tim Whitmer compositions are copyright 1992
By Canyon Don Publishing, BMI.
Other Canyon Don recordings: Tim Whitmer - "Cloudwalking"- a wonderful blend of sensuous solo piano and captivating ensemble outings. "Cloudwalking" is an uplifting outing of Whitmer's original music, inspired by several years in the southwest United States. Released in 1988.
For more information, bookings and other recording contact: Tim Whitmer Productions, PO Box 30332, Kansas City, MO 64112. Phone 816-444-6262, email: