When the Jazz Ambassadors called on Hagenbach -- who headlines Hot Latin Jazz -- to sing at their fund-raiser, she was a bit confused.
"I told them, 'I'm not really a blues singer,'" says Hagenbach, whose 1997 solo release, Feel the Magic, features jazz standards like "Love for Sale" alongside the spicy "Retrato em Branco e Preto," sung in Portuguese. "They said, 'That's OK. It's just a name we use.'"
The name pays tribute to Billie Holiday's autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues. And you can't argue with Billie. "Jazz and blues are intertwined and inseparable," says event organizer Bill Paprota. "That's the old Kansas City bugaboo."
Hagenbach will perform with Kathleen Holeman and Sharon Thompson, who brought down the hizzy at the Ambassadors' first Ladies Sing the Blues night, in 1990, held at the then-new Club at Plaza III. (Even Billy Joel was there, not yet having drifted down the river of dreams.)
People who attend the event, for which KCUR 89.3 personality Chuck Haddix (host of the station's Fish Fry) is the master of ceremonies, can partake in a four-course meal -- for $100 a plate. Down-and-out fans might prefer to forgo the filet mignon and just see the show for $5.
The ladies are slated to perform individual sets backed by piano man Paul Smith, bassist Steve Regazzi and drummer Ian Sikora. After UMKC's jazz students play what's certain to be a lively intermission, the women will share the stage for a battle of the divas. The "battle" isn't competitive; it's figurative -- kind of like a Ladies Sing the Blues wherein one lady does not sing the blues.
"I don't really get it, either," Hagenbach says. "But it will be fun. It's an opportunity for people to hear three singers on the same evening, which is very rare."