Jackie Myers (b. 1983)
Updated: Aug 4, 2021
Jazz pianist, singer, and composer Jackie Myers is a jewel in Kansas City's music scene. Her piano chops, soulful voice and original sound have won the artist a following among the city's jazz aficionados. She leads two groups and features in a number of other groups. Myers has played with many wonderful Kansas City jazz musicians, such as Lonnie McFadden, A La Mode, Stan Kessler, Matt Hopper, Eboni Fondren, Danny Embrey, Rod Fleeman, Tod Strait, Trent Austin and others. As she says, "I moved to Kansas City for the musicians and the culture of jazz appreciation that is so prevalent here." Myers also became the musical director of the nationally-syndicated public radio jazz show, 12th Street Jump in January
2019, leading the band, creating arrangements and performing jazz tributes monthly with an immensely talented group including singer Eboni Fondren, vocalist David Basse, bassist Tyrone Clark, and drummer Jim Lower. The show aired on over 40 radio stations and played on Kansas City's own KCUR every Saturday night until it was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Jackie Myers' instrumental group, The Myers Swingset, has produced two albums featuring Myers' compositions. The Instrumental One, recorded live at The Green Lady Lounge in 2018, features Myers and virtuoso guitarist Danny Embrey. State of the City, from 2019, showcases Myers' piano and the mellow sounds of sax player Mike Herrera on six songs written by Myers and a seventh song written by bass player Sam Copeland. Writing for Jazz Ambassador Magazine, critic Ken Rabas said that the variety of the songs is "a careful blended mixture, mojito-like." He added, "Like Joni Mitchell or Charles Mingus, Myers plays well in a number of genres or styles, and has a gift of wit, both musically and lyrically."
Jackie Myers' vocal project, usually producing work under the artist's name, release an album in 2020 entitled Clementine. Recorded at the Black Dolphin, Myers is joined by an all-star lineup of Kansas City jazz musicians: Rod Fleeman on guitar, Trent Austin on trumpet, Brad Gregory on sax, Ben Tervort on bass, and Todd Strait on drums. G.A. Russell said this combo features "a sweet crop of accompanists ranging from the Grammy nominated to local legends and the added bonus of Myers' soulful and earthy vocals front and center." The group brings to life Myers' eight compositions including the acclaimed songs "Clementine" and "The Worst Part." Critic Ken Rabas was impressed:
Jackie Myers becomes even more remarkable the longer she is here. Her new live album, Clementine ... is an engaging–even fun–album ... Full of originals, Myers shows her consummate skill as a songwriter, both with music and lyrics.
Critic Bill Brownlee of Plastic Sax crossed genres and generations in his review of the album. Referring to fans of James Taylor, he said:
I'm confident almost every one of them would enjoy Jackie Myers' new album Clementine. The latest release by the Kansas City keyboardist, vocalist and songwriter channels Taylor's longtime collaborator Carole King ... Clementine often resembles Tapestry with the addition of a horn section.
With so much of her artistry rooted in composition, Myers has also demonstrated a talent for film scoring. She started a production company called Silent Films Out Loud based out of Austin, TX that revivifies Buster Keaton silent films. So far, the project has produced upwards of ten film scores, three written by Myers.
In 2021, Myers is involved in writing for a musical (expected to debut in 2025). She also entered into and won the Mid America Freedom Band's annual contest for composition proposals; the commissioned piece will premiere in the winter of 2021.
When the pandemic necessitated a stop to jazz performances in public venues, Myers found creative solutions for herself and other musicians. She began live-streaming concerts from her outdoor patio, which opened up Kansas City jazz to new listeners from across the country. In addition, Myers organized and produced ten outdoor jazz concerts featuring various local jazz groups, entitled Kansas City Drive-In Concerts and held social-distanced shows in parking lots. These popular shows, many of which sold out, featured artists like Bobby Watson, Eddie Moore, A La Mode, and the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra. The series was so popular that Myers will continue to produce it in the summer of 2021 and beyond.
Meanwhile, seeking growth in her musical journey without the benefit of regular gigs, in 2020 Myers enrolled in a Master's degree in musical performance at the University of Missouri–Kansas City Conservatory. This program has given Myers the opportunity to further her study of jazz piano under UMKC faculty member Roger Wilder, as well as a chance to study with jazz great and Jazz Messenger alum, Bobby Watson.
If you would like to see her live, Jackie Myers is again performing at Kansas City venues including Corvino Supper Club, Chaz on the Plaza, American Slang Brasserie of the InterContinental Hotel, The French Market, the Mutual Musicians Foundation, and she is excited to debut at The Folly in winter of 2021.