The “Kansas City Sound” was sweeping the country in the 1920s and ‘30s, as the city grew even more instrumental in creating a musical bridge from the orchestral jazz era to a more improvisational style. Moten, with his masterful piano playing, played a key part in this riffing shift in the genre. 

Sadly, Moten never got to see his music reach the masses. He died during a tonsillectomy at age 40 at Wheatley Provident Hospital in Kansas City.

One of his bandmates – the now legendary Count Basie – picked up the baton, so to speak, and helped make Kansas City a hub for jazz and blues. Basie’s efforts paved the way for a new style of music: Bebop.

Based upon content from the book Missouri 365: This Day in Missouri History by John W. Brown, broadcaster and Missouri historian. Get your copy at Reedy Press.

Photo from Unsplash