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American Jazz Museum
1616 E. 18th St.
Kansas City, MO 64108

We started at 18th and Main, the center of black cultural life back in the bad old days of segregation, and now a neatly renovated area that includes the excellent American Jazz Museum and even better Negro League Baseball Museum. Both are housed in the same building, two rooms joined by an exhibit about the community that once thrived in this area.

The Jazz Museum had fine, if somewhat muted, exhibits on the music and the players-naturally, the spicy stories were largely toned down so the whole scene around jazz comes off entirely wholesome. Not that we need lurid displays about heroin abuse and womanizing, but still.

Great fun and most educational were interactive exhibits that allow a visitor to listen to various instruments and incorporate different kinds of, say, trombone playing or drum beats, into a well known track, so you get the feel for jazz playing and improvising.

Equally impressive was the digital library of jazz albums, all done with an interactive interface that allowed you to browse and listen to any cut from any record in the category. It made us wish we had a few hours to explore the musical delights contained inside.

We also wished we had realized a listing we had seen for some music the night before was for the museum's own club, an inviting and mature space that would be a cool place for a night of hot jazz.

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