Education is one aspect of the jazz world in evident ascent; Down Beat last spring listed some 180 North American schools offering degrees in the music born a century ago in taverns and brothels. The 35th annual International Association for Jazz Education conference, in Toronto this weekend, suggests how far swinging blues have come.
At the conference, an expected five-to-seven thousand college and secondary school teachers, students, first rank professional musicians, jazz media (tv, radio, print & online) specialists, cd company reps, instrument manufacturers, concert/fest producers, sheet music publishers and jazz-reverent entrepreneurs will attend clinics, workshops, panel discussions, a fundraising dinner, happy-hour receptions, schmoozes and oh, yes, performances in a city that no longer has a dedicated jazz club, but is rife with a hard-core improv scene and international populace.
Some expected highlights, musicwise: Canadian-born trumpeter Ingrid Jensen’s Nordic Connect band with her saxophonist sister Christine; British tenor saxophonist Courtney Pine on his own curated UK night; New York-based guitarist Joel Harrison’s Quintet; French Canadian (Vancouver-resident) clarinetist Francois Houle. Interesting academic presentations: guitarist-Berkelee College prof Garrison Fewell on Sun Ra; drummer Jimmy Cobb, saxophonist Jimmy Heath and bassist Paul West on their late colleague, pianist Wynton Kelly; singer Catherine Dupuis demonstrates her new Native American-jazz hybrid. Unusual live interviews: drummer Roy Haynes submits to author Dan Morgenstern‘s questions; vocalese stars Jon Hendricks and Kurt Elling converse on their legacy and future; Neil Tesser (Listen Here), Darcy James Argue (Secret Society), Jason Crane(The Jazz Session), Carl Wilson (Zoilus/The Globe and Mail), and David Ryshpan (Settled in Shipping) consider the jazz blog.
I’m co-leading with the estimable Stuart Broomer (Toronto Jazz Life, former editor Coda, too-long-retired out-guitarist) a three-day course “Who Asked You Anyway?” in writing a disappearing staple of arts journalism, the overnight review (Jazz Journalists Association veterans mentor jazz journalists wannabes through a strict editorial process) and also moderating, for the third year, “Jazz in the Digital Age,” a probe into the online world jazz journalists are adapting to, with panelists James Hale and guitarist-blogger Tim Postgate , among others. The JJA is having a party at the Novotel Hotel lounge Friday — just before the U.S. National Endowment of the Arts formally presents our most recently named Jazz Masters to the assembly. Composers of ASCAP commissioned compositions and the Smithsonian Jazz Orchestra will also be heard.
Expected results? Well, what comes out of most industry-wide conferences? Are there deals to be made, treaties to sign, campaigns to launch? Maybe just rumors to pass. I’ll be reporting: watch this space.
Schedule: Jazz Journalists Association (and me) at IAJE