Berklee College, Boston: a jazz education mecca

Young people flock to Berklee College in Boston expecting practical education in the most under-capitalized of arts: jazz and related forms of contemporary popular music. With some 4000 enrollees pursuing BA programs in composition, film scoring, production and engineering, music business/management, songwriting, performance, etc., Berklee is by far the largest of 160 institutions in the U.S. and another dozen internationally offering degrees and/or certificates in jazz studies, as detailed in the current (October) issue of Down Beat.Berklee is … [Read more...]

Help Pandora — save online radio

The free and highly entertaining online radio website Pandora.com -- one of the most readily accessible portals to music you'll probably enjoy, but never heard before -- needs help from all listeners to pressure the Senate to pass a bill supportive of its continuance. At issue is the backbreaking level of royalty payments being urged on this site and others like it by lobbyists for the National Association of Broadcasters, those giant broadcasters (think Clear Channel) who would monopolize the airwaves with formulaic playlists promoting a … [Read more...]

Presidential politics and jazz: Show of hands

Google "Obama" and "jazz" and this Jazz Beyond Jazz post comes up second! The search engine flatters, so here's more research on the connection/support of the jazz world for the candidates, and the candidates of jazz (as a fundamental American cultural phenomenon). This concert seems indicative of most jazz musicians' preference:(gen'l admission: $100; vip seats and post-show reception: $250; students/seniors, $50).Comparable events last week in Cincinnati, Ohio and Oct. 12 in Kansas City MO, with Dick Gregory as keynote speaker on the occasion … [Read more...]

Bad news from the Northwest: Portland Jazz Fest dies

The demise of the Portland Jazz Festival was announced today by press release from its membership umbrella organization PDX Jazz, cancelling plans for February 2009 due to the pullout by title sponsor Qwest Communications. Despite concerted attempts by festival producer Bill Royston, no other funder stepped up to support the five-year-old festival's modest budget with high returns, and the result may be due to the U.S.'s overall economic downturn.The festival -- two weeks every February starting in 2004 -- filled burgeoning Portland's boutique … [Read more...]

Who decides who’s an NEA Jazz Master

The National Endowment of the Arts panel determining recipients of the annual Jazz Masters Fellowships is a small one. In the interest of transparency, the NEA has supplied the names of panelists who chose the class of '09. It comprises five previously named Fellows, one "layperson," one independent record producer, and two longtime jazz adminstrator-activists (who both happen to be honorees of the Jazz Journalists Association's "A Team").Of course, if John McCain becomes president, it's all moot (as Lee Rosenbaum reports, the GOP has no arts … [Read more...]

Meet the NEA’s new Jazz Masters

The National Endowment for the Arts' latest class of official "Jazz Masters" includes vocalist and guitarist George Benson, drummer Jimmy Cobb, alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, harmonica and guitar player "Toots" Thielemans, trumpeter Snooky" Young, and recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder.  All estimable choices, each receiving $25,000, opportunities to participate in photo shoots and public appearances and introduction an official ceremony on October 17 at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Plus, Steve Wonder has won the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for … [Read more...]

Chicago hears Ornette Coleman — This is our music

An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 listeners of all ages, genders, races, religions -- Americans and visitors from abroad, too -- enjoyed the directly expressive, highly personalized music of Pulitzer Prize-winner Ornette Coleman as the finale of the outdoor Chicago Jazz Festival last Sunday night. The attentive, mellow and celebratory audience response, including a standing ovation throughout the 5000 seats nearest the bandshell in Grant Park, suggested that improvisation created without a priori conventions or artificial constraints, which Coleman … [Read more...]