World-renowned KC-born jazz trumpeter Hermon Mehari hosts new show on KCUR

Photography by Joseph Bologna

Jazz has deep roots in Kansas City, and so does Hermon Mehari. Mehari, a jazz trumpet player, grew up here and has been involved in jazz music for the majority of his life. His latest album, A Change for the Dreamlike, was released in 2020 and topped the iTunes jazz charts.

Mehari is now based in Paris but is hosting a new Saturday night show, The Session, on KCUR, where he hopes to showcase African American jazz and introduce the genre to those who are unfamiliar with jazz music.

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Describe your experience setting up The Session.

It’s been half a year that we have been working on this project. [KCUR] reached out to me and gave me the opportunity to mold the show that I would want to do. The initial idea was to start with a jazz show, but then it evolved into playing Black music that I love all over the diaspora. I have quite a big musical vocabulary and access to so many records and knowledge.

What was the motivation behind wanting to start this podcast?

I am from Kansas City, and since I left, I told myself that I wanted to keep a foot in Kansas City. Quite literally that meant me coming back and performing, but since performing in Europe, my career has gotten crazier. It’s beautiful that this radio show gives me a platform to musically stay connected to Kansas City.

What feedback have you received regarding The Session ?

My first show went super well. People all over were excited when the show was first announced. The show is for Kansas City but also has the opportunity to be heard anywhere. I have gotten a lot of positive feedback. It’s the feedback that I was aiming for, people who are being exposed to jazz music who have not been exposed before. I had people who had not known me at all and have come across my show.

What are some of your favorite Kansas City memories?

Places like Broadway Cafe because I was going every day. Also [now closed] YJ’s Snack Bar is memorable because we used to eat there all the time and play there also.

What do you hope that the music show will bring to the Kansas City community?

There are a lot of people in Kansas City that know me and like me, but in order to be more global, I couldn’t cater specifically just for the Kansas City artist. In each show, I play one Kansas City artist. It’s almost like an easter egg. It goes to show how much Kansas City artists are on the same level as other international artists. Although I have these ambitions for the show, and people being exposed to new stuff, the basis of the show is it’s supposed to be a good time and to enjoy it.

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