Join us for a special performance and meet & greet with Steinway Artist Randy Porter and friends – John Wiitala (bass), and Todd Strait (drums) – Saturday, June 1 at 1:00PM at Schmitt Music Kansas City – free and open to the public!
A future-classic album is being recorded in Kansas City in late May with jazz musicians from all around the United States! Randy Porter, Steinway Artist and pianist extraordinaire, is flying in from Portland, Oregon, to join renowned bassist John Wiitala from Los Angeles and celebrated Kansas City drummer Todd Strait. The recording session is private, but our program on June 1st will give you a sneak peek!
Don’t miss this opportunity to be part of a magical moment in Kansas City jazz history. Enjoy this free performance and meet these Grammy-Nominated performers after the show! Seating is limited, so please let us know if you’ll attend – RSVP NOW!
Learn more about Randy Porter, John Wiitala, and Todd Strait below:
Randy Porter, Piano
Jazz pianist Randy Porter has a refined understanding of improvisation and the spontaneous communication between musicians. As a Steinway Artist, Randy Porter draws from a rich palette of sonorities found within his imagination and the depths of the piano. Lynn Darroch of The Oregonian states, “Porter has built a reputation as a musician’s musician, a knowledgeable, inventive, and sophisticated player with a remarkable sense of time and gorgeous keyboard facility…”
Nominated for the 60th Grammy Awards, Randy’s recent release Porter Plays Porter with Nancy King is a mix of swing, wit, harmony and lyrical adventure. In the spirit of Cannonball Adderley and Nancy Wilson, tunes featuring Nancy King are interspersed with instrumental tracks featuring the Randy Porter Trio. The vehicle for improvisation is the master songwriter Cole Porter, with the exception of Inside Your Mind, a ballad written by Randy Porter. Legendary vocalist Nancy King joins the Randy Porter Trio: Randy, piano; John Wiitala, bass; and Todd Strait on drums.
Randy Porter has performed with many jazz greats, including Freddy Hubbard, Art Farmer, and Benny Golson. He currently performs with Charles McPherson, Madeline Eastman, the New York Voices, Rebecca Kilgore and Nancy King. With the Charles McPherson Quartet, he has traveled throughout the US and in France, Italy, Greece, and China. The Charles McPherson Quartet has re- created the music from the classic recording Charlie Parker with Strings, performing with many orchestras nationwide. Porter has also performed McPherson’s Sweet Synergy Suite with the San Diego Ballet.
Musical highlights include performing at Kimball’s with Art Farmer and Clifford Jordan, Lincoln Center and Kennedy Center with Diane Schuur, Seattle’s Jazz Alley with New York Voices, concerts at Yoshi’s in San Francisco with Madeline Eastman, Karrin Allyson and Rebecca Kilgore, The House of Blues in Chicago and BB King’s Blues Club in NYC with Gino Vannelli, the Monterey Jazz Festival with Madeline Eastman, the Chicago and Detroit Jazz Festivals with Charles McPherson.
Randy Porter has toured Europe with bassist David Friesen and has performed on several recordings with Friesen. Friesen’s 2001 Trio CD, Name of a Woman, received 4 stars from Downbeat in June of 2002 and featured Porter as pianist and composer. Porter has also recorded, performed, and toured worldwide with singer Gino Vannelli; Porter’s pianistic contributions can be heard on Vannelli’s CDs, Yonder Tree, Slow Love and Canto.
Porter’s compositions and arrangements can be heard on his own recordings: Porter Plays Porter with Nancy King, John Wiitala on bass, Todd Strait on drums; Thirsty Soul, with John Wiitala on bass and Reinhardt Melz and Todd Strait on drums; Brio, also featuring John Wiitala and Reinhardt Melz; Modern Reflections with Nancy King on vocals, Leroy Vinnegar on bass and Mel Brown on drums; and Eight Little Feet with Bob Magnusson on bass and Joe LaBarbera on drums. Samples of Porter’s writing and playing can be found on Apple’s iLife jingles. Porter also composed the music for the 2009 documentary, Deep Green.
Porter has been a performer and educator at the Jazz Camp West, the Port Townsend Jazz Festival, and the Stanford Jazz Workshop where he has coached many young jazz musicians. Porter teaches master classes and adjudicates student combos and bands at highschool and college jazz festivals. Currently, Porter teaches jazz piano at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Learn more at randyporter.com.
John Wiitala, Bass
John Wiitala has worked with some of the greatest names in jazz, including Joe Henderson, Junior Cook, Charlie Rouse, James Moody, Bud Shank, and Cecil Payne. He has toured with Richie Cole, Arturo Sandoval, Shorty Rogers, and Jessica Williams, and has played at jazz festivals around the world, including Monterey, North Sea, Montreux, Detriot, and JVC/Concord. His recording credits include work with Scott Hamilton, Jessica Williams, Mark Levine, as well as Anton Schwartz.
Todd Strait, Drums
Over Todd’s 40 year career, he has spent 10 years in New York City playing with Marian McPartland, Tal Farlow, a brief tour with Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd, followed by a relocation to Kansas City working with Interstring, PBT Trio among many others. During this time in Kansas City, Todd met Eldar, Karrin Allyson, and Kevin Mahagony leading to national and international travel with each over a 20 year period. His history and experience have brought forth over a 100 recordings as a sideman, most notably receiving two Grammy Nominations with Karrin Allyson, one with Eldar, and one with Randy Porter and Nancy King. In 2017, Todd released his debut album as a leader, “There’ll Be Some Changes Made”, featuring Bill Mays, Bob Bowman, and Danny Embrey.
Now based in Kansas City, Todd’s schedule is focused locally with occasional tours. He can be found playing nightly in the Kansas City area with multiple groups.