MUSINGS IN Cb: “A Very Musical 2014 For Chris Burnett …”

This year looks to be a very musical one for me as an artist.  

2014 marks a major milestone in my life as my musical artistry is now able to coexist in balance within the parameters and contexts of my life in general at this stage.

As with most any middle-aged-grown-ass-man, the total competence and diversity that comes from having life balance is most essential to any form of artistic progress.

And, this state of being has been a relatively long time in coming.  


To everything there is a season.  So, let me reintroduce myself artistically to those who know me as a musician and introduce myself artistically to those on the scene who may only know me via business – I still love and do my work with the American Jazz Museum and the ARC recording label, respectively and in context.

I have assembled a brand new version of Chris Burnett Quartet – just having commitment from the last of the artists yesterday evening.  We will primarily perform my compositions, record them and perform concerts. 

Having a “set group” is important to me as a composer and artist exploring my own improvisatory language concepts. I come from an era of “groups” being the model I saw presented in jazz (Miles, Coltrane, Andrew Hill, Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, Cannonball, etc) – meaning artistic relationships are developed over a period of time and contribute to the core of the project.

In addition to Chris Burnett Quartet, I am writing music for a chordless trio project featuring Elliot Kuykendall on bass and Julian Goff on drums; and, a guitar quartet featuring Will Matthews.  I have a quartet comprised of the youngest generation professional jazz artists (Alyssa Murry on piano, Seth Lee on bass and Julian Goff on drums) too. So, I work with other artists in context and so do the musicians I will be working with in my primary ensemble.  But, here are the gentlemen I hope to record and perform lots of creative music with in the coming years …

Chris Burnett Quartet (2014)


Roger Wilder, piano – I met Roger at the Grand Emporium in Kansas City during a break at the “Battle of the Saxes” fundraiser for the Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors organization.  I had never met or heard him before, but I really liked how sensitive, supportive and inherently creative he was to each situation.

Roger was part of a rhythm section that included Gerald Spaits on bass and Tommy Ruskin on drums.  The battling saxes were all virtuosi: Dr. Todd Wilkinson, Gerald Dunn, Prof. Hal Melia and Prof. Bobby Watson. I introduced myself to Roger at their first break, gave him my card and asked if he would be interested in performing in my quartet.  He said, “cool”. Roger has been my pianist of choice since that day in 2001.

Not only does this cat play in a supporting role with most all of the top artist in this region and many from beyond our locale, his own quintet is likely one of the premier groups working in jazz today as well.  Check out Roger’s debut (available at iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, etc).


Jeff Harshbarger, bass – I first heard Jeff performing with the progressive saxophonist/conceptualist, Mark Southerland and was moved by his artistic creativity. Then, I heard him with Bobby Watson, performing hard-bop in the Blue Room and was moved by his artistic creativity.  Jeff is in demand, a scene builder, an entrepreneur, etc.

Finally, I had the opportunity to perform with him in various contexts and was certain that Jeff was the bassist of choice for my original work and recordings. He brings a lot to any ensemble and what I like about Jeff’s musicianship in an ensemble that presents through-composed material that includes improvisation as well, is his sympatico with what is happening musically in the moment.


Clarence Smith, drums – I first met Clarence when he was still head of the vaunted jazz program at the Paseo Academy of Arts in Kansas City. I had written an arrangement of an original composition by one of the city’s legends and his band performed it.  

We first performed together as members of the youth jazz faculty.  It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to perform with Clarence in my own groups did I get a true picture of his range as a percussionist.

Clarence is an artist, educator and scene builder.  His experience in the field adds tremendously to his unique artistry.  Without a doubt, he is one of the finest percussionists working today.


My history to date in this regard includes: devoting the first 22 years of my professional life to a very active live performance career with military bands (an average of 250 performances each year); then, upon returning home at 45 years old, being very active on the Kansas City live music scene – centered around a regular hit at the Drum Room when it first reopened; and, attending sessions regularly at the Foundation, Blue Room or most anywhere else I could to introduce myself artistically.

A 2007 feature by Jazz Ambassador Magazine and feature in Kansas City Star’s “Jazz Town” column by Joe Klopus objectively validated my efforts to contribute positively to the scene at large and outside of military service bands.  

I have paid some dues here in KC and continue to pay dues to this day …

Maintaining one’s balance and keeping things in context are important.


As an artist who is also a composer, it is important to record. It just turned out that I came back home having already recorded and released my debut commercially.  This was done independently and before stores like iTunes existed.  


I have been attempting to put together projects to record the music I have continued to write over these subsequent 13 years.  

At the same time the recording industry rapidly changed during the last years of the 20th Century and the first years of the 21st Century, the Internet became significant to business infrastructure and label platform models. 

Therefore, much of my time and energies during this period have been devoted to building relevant new music business systems, supporting my family and contributing to the music scene at large – all are things I enjoy and believe to be as essential to my artistry as playing gigs every night.

Thanks, and welcome to these further musical adventures !

Look for our music to be released on the Artists Recording Collective label and look for our performances in select venues.

Peace, Cb

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Chris Burnett is an official Selmer (Paris) Saxophone Artist; Marketing and Communications Manager at American Jazz Museum; Professional Jazz Recording Artist; Composer; Educator; Entrepreneur; and, Businessman based in his native Kansas City metropolitan area. See – http://BurnettPublishing.com