Kansas City is the home of Kansas City swing, jazz and blues. The City’s rich historical legacy of music includes a transformational chapter in the history of American jazz and swing music. Based in Kansas City, Missouri a number of swing bands developed a unique sound that radically transformed the traditional jazz genre of New Orleans into a modern musical idiom. The Kansas City swing sound is based in the blues, rooted in a 4/4 rhythm, and connected to the city’s tradition of competitive creative innovation through all night jam sessions and battles of the big bands. This tradition of swing laid the foundation for the rise of Kansas City natives, Ben Webster and Charlie Parker, who transformed American jazz music.
The city’s historical legacy of jazz is rooted in Local 627 the “colored” musicians chapter, of the American Federation of Musicians (AF of M). Visitors to Kansas City can visit the 18thand Vine Jazz District and the “oldest jazz house” in the United States at 1823 Highland Avenue. Local destinations include the American Jazz Museum, Gem Theater, the Black Archives of Mid America and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
Beyond 18thand Vine, the City has a diversity of musical venues, university music programs, including the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, and a vibrant music scene. The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts provides a new landmark for the city’s Crossroads Arts District. It is also home to the Folk Alliance International, an organization dedicated to the preservation of American Folk styles globally.
In addition to music, Kansas City has employed creativity to the redevelopment of urban neighborhoods across the region. The area is home to a great concentration of architecture, design and engineering firms that shape the city’s local economy and creative economy. Recent efforts to integrate technology into the city’s transportation networks and downtown area highlight the role of the media arts. Gastronomy is alive and well in the city with a vibrant farm to market movement, creative leadership from local chefs, and a growing community food movement, not to mention the BBQ expertise known around the world.
Kansas City has deep roots in international collaboration as the international headquarters of People to People – founded in 1961 to foster “citizen diplomacy” around the world. Kansas City has active sister city relationships with 14 sister cities, including Seville, Spain – Guadalajara Mexico and Hannover Germany – Morelia, Mexico, each of which is a UCCN member.
Mission of the Kansas City UNESCO City of Music
As a Creative City of Music, Kansas City is working to:
- promote jazz heritage as a driver for sustainable development through city-adopted policies for neighborhoods, with jazz music being the principal component;
- implement cultural district planning according to the universal values carried by Local 627 African American jazz musicians union, to honor and valorize the historic and existing culture of the 18th and Vine Historic District, and local neighborhoods;
- implement a Jazz Corridor, which identifies all aspects of Jazz for the national and international creative consumer for entertainment, education, historic preservation and businesses purposes;
- build an economic development plan in the city’s urban core and cultural tourism sites which will include a strong international component and connect to countries with an interest in jazz and Black American Music; and
- engage other Creative Cities through musical collaborations including the Voyage of the Drums Jazz Festival, aimed to foster inter-cultural understanding, tolerance and mutual respect through music.
“Ancient Wisdom for Millennium Strategies”
Phone: +1 816-612-0864
UMKC Center for Neighborhoods
Department of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design
5005 Rockhill Road, KCMO 64110
Phone: +1 816-235-6053
Facts and Figures
With a population of 488,943 in the Kansas City, Missouri municipality – the city is in the top 50 largest U.S. cities. Kansas City’s metropolitan area covers parts of two states (Missouri and Kansas) and includes more than 100 adjacent municipalities in 11 different counties. There are more than 2 million in the metropolitan area.
Kansas City, Missouri sits at the heart of the United States near the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers. The City is nationally known for its historic parks and boulevards system, a vibrant arts scene, and for the headquarters of Hallmark Cards, Sprint and several engineering firms.
Kansas City is the hometown of Charlie Parker, Jr. and Ben Webster – two of the most important architects of American swing music and bebop. Today the history continues nightly in the city’s jazz clubs and during the day in schools across the region where a new generation is learning to play the music that put Kansas City on the map.
The city includes 826 square kilometers of land (319 square miles) and is the 23rdlargest U.S. City by land area.