Jazz conventions, conferences, celebrations, memorial Jan 6 – 11

The jazz world convenes in two U.S. cities this weekend, as high school and college bands + directors gather at the JEN Conference in New Orleans, jazz presenters focus themselves at the APAP convention in New York City and jazz journalists get together on topics vital to better and continued music coverage at the JJA’s “New Media for New Jazz” conference, in APAP-provided spaces at the Sheraton New York, Jan 7 – 11. Concurrently, 60 new jazz ensembles  showcase in five NYC Greenwich Village clubs for Winter Jazzfest, the NEA celebrates its newly enrolled Jazz Masters at Jazz at Lincoln Center (with live streaming! — see below) and the entire community mourns/celebrates at the memorial service for Dr. Billy Taylor at Riverside Church.

JEN, the Jazz Education Network formed over the past 18 months in the wake of the collapse of the International Association for Jazz Educators organization, hosts its second conference in six months with an impressive schedule of hands-on clinics, workshops and panels aimed at students and their teachers, at the Roosevelt Hotel Thursday through Saturday, Jan 6 – 8. An exhibition hall will be full of displays by instrument manufacturers, jazz schools, some presenters and publications. 

APAP, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, is not limited to jazz — indeed, presenters interested in World Music are invited to an impressive globalFEST with 13 ensembles at Webster Hall in NYC on Jan. 9). APAP showcases every kind of performer, including classical and jazz musicians, from Jan 7 – 10 at the New York Hilton and Sheraton New York and nearby venues. It has also generously provided space for meetings of the Jazz Journalists Association’s “New Media for New Jazz” conference, which range from the introduction of our (yes, I’m president) eyeJAZZ.tv initiative (more on this in a follow-up post), a panel on “The New Feature: Long Form Journalism Now,” a town hall on “The State of Jazz Journalism and Immediate Prospects,” and two work sessions where journalists, presenters and musicians will try to hash out issues of mutual concern for mutual benefit. Complete schedule and free registration here.
Musicians and journalists and presenters are all excited about Winter Jazzfest, which in the past six years has become a two-night, 6 pm to 4 am blowout featuring much of the most exciting music being created right now. Highlights — ensembles being presented in staggered schedules at (le) poisson rouge, Kenny’s Castaways, Sullivan Hall, Zinc Bar and the Bitter end, bars which are within a two square block walk of each other — are too numerous to mention, but I’ll cite Butch Morris’s conduction of tenor saxist JD Allen’s group, guitarists Nels Cline, Charlie Hunter, Nguyen Le, Doug Wamble, Abdoulaye Diabate and Vernon Reid (all doing separate sets), pianists Amina Figuerova, Jason Lindner, Shimrit Shoshan and Aaron Goldberg, saxophonists Steve Coleman and Chris Speed with their bands, trumpeter Igmar Thomas and the Cypher, drummer Dafnis Prieto  . .  . I’m not being fair here. As I said, there’s too much music of great potential to mention and discovery is a big part of the fun. 
The Marsalis family musicians — patriarch pianist Ellis, saxophonist Branford, trumpeter Wynton, trombonist Delfeayo and drummer Jason — are among the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters, along with flutist Hubert Laws, saxophonist Dave Liebman, composer-arranger Johnny Mandel (no relation to me) and producer Orrin Keepnews. They are presented onstage and interviewed by A.B. Spellman, author of Four Lives in the Bebop Business and former deputy chair of the NEA, on Monday Jan. 10 on the premises of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Initially scheduled for the evening, that session has been moved to 1 pm to accommodate Jazz Masters and likely audience members who also want to pay their respects to pianist and jazz advocate Dr. Billy Taylor, a gentleman, scholar, encouraging mentor and fine pianist who died last week at age 89 and is ably eulogized by my ArtsJournal compatriot Doug Ramsey, here.
The APAP and JJA proceedings culminate in a Jazz Forum, open to anybody who cares to attend, on Tuesday, Jan 11, from 3 to 5 pm (in the New York Hilton’s Mercury Ballroom). The NEA activities climax with a ticket-necessary concert by the new Masters at Jazz At Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall. 
Hear all the Marsalises together, Liebman on soprano sax, Laws on flute and maybe piccolo, Mandel — playing trumpet or trombone or leading a JALC group in some of his compositions or charts (“Suicide Is Painless,” which became pianist Bill Evans’ theme song, “The Shadow of Your Smile,” “Ring-a-ding-ding” as Frank Sinatra sang it), Keepnews taking a bow for recording Thelonious Monk when no one else would, and vocalist Roberta Gambarini singing in honor of NEA Jazz Masters who died this yera If you can’t be there, the NEA has made these provisions: 

The NEA Jazz Masters Awards Ceremony & Concert on January 11, 2011, will be video streamed live for those unable to attend in person. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. EST and can be accessed through arts.gov.


In addition, a live audio broadcast will be carried through three outlets: Sirius XM Satellite Radio’s Real Jazz Channel 70, WBGO radio on 88.3FM or wbgo.org, and at NPR Music (npr.org/music).

Enough for everybody, all around.

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