Welcome back to our series on Kansas City jazz! Read the first post here. The golden age of jazz in Kansas City came in the 1920s and 1930s, during the Pendergast era and a time when Kansas City was the country’s crossroads. Kansas City jazz musicians were heavily influenced by the ragtime music of the turn of the century (like the songs from Scott Joplin in nearby Sedalia, MO) and by the early jazz musicians coming from New Orleans. As musicians from various musical background mingled in KC, the Kansas City style began to develop. Perhaps the first musician to become a well-known face for the Kansas City style was Bennie Moten, the leader of the Kansas City Orchestra. His band’s early recordings, dating to 1923, showed the influence of ragtime and New Orleans-style jazz. By the time they were recording with Victor Records, their recordings were featuring the hard stomp preferred by Kansas City audiences, and the beginnings of a Boogie Woogie piano sound. In 1929, Moten recruited Count Basie, Walter Page, and Oran “Hot Lips” Page to the orchestra, and these three musicians stretched the orchestra’s style and began to form a new sound. Eventually, the band started to exhibit the early “Basie sound” – years before Count Basie began recording under his own name. Bennie Moten died in 1935 at the age of 40, after an unsuccessful tonsillectomy. (Aren’t you glad we don’t have to deal with that anymore?) Still, the recordings of our hometown jazz orchestra – the most successful in the Midwest – remain popular among jazz aficionados to this day.