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Kansas City jazz musicians travel to Chile to share KC culture, music

KC Jazz Musicians
Posted at 8:46 AM, Jan 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-23 09:47:06-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A group of Kansas City jazz musicians traveled to Frutillar, Chile, on Saturday to perform their music and engage in cultural exchange as part of a project two years in the making.

From Monday through Thursday, the group will perform in the annual Semanas Musicales de Frutillar, or the Frutillar Music Weeks festival.

These musicians, who are part of the United Nations Education Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), were hardly singing the blues as they departed.

"I’m looking forward to heading to Chile, learning their culture and music," flutist Amber Underwood said. "But then coming back and really telling people what we’ve done and what UNESCO’s all about."

Vocalist Paula Saunders Lewis said over the last two years, the group coordinated with Chilean musicians and performed through Zoom.

"When we played 'Summertime,' they knew exactly what that was," she said.

Now, thanks to the U.S. Embassy in Chile sponsoring the trip, and the Kansas City Museum, these Kansas City Jazz musicians will be able to perform for the citizens of Chile in person. They will also hold music lessons with children.

University of Missouri - Kansas City professor Jake Wagner said the exchange is an opportunity to build partnerships that span nations. The musicians who set out to share Kansas City jazz with Chile hold the same optimistic attitude.

"Music is a universal language," pianist Angela Ward said. "The notes will be the same, the styles will be vary, but we will all be on one chord when we play that music together."