She bills herself as a saxophonist, a singer, a songwriter, a composer and an arranger. Yes, she's 16. And, yes, she has been hailed by the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Lee Konitz, Phil Woods, and countless other jazz giants as more than just a rising star. It would almost seem that the very future of jazz rests upon the delicate shoulders of young Grace Kelly. Such hyperbole being issued by critics, fans and fellow musicians is great for earning press attention, selling CDs and getting gigs — all of which Kelly has no trouble doing. And it dares you to find a reason not to like her or to find a cause to dismiss her as nothing but an engaging automaton speaking in a musical tongue she couldn't possibly understand. And yet, when you hear her, you can't help but be won over — Kelly speaks the language and has earned her place. Her greatest challenge now will be bringing that language to a new generation of listeners. See her at 7:30 tonight with Greg Carroll and the Midnight Blue Jazz Quartet at the Blue Room (1616 East 18th Street, 816-474-8463). Admission costs $5.
Thu., March 26, 7:30 p.m., 2009