Last night’s NEA Jazz Masters concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center was ustreamed – for the first time allowing the world to see live, free and forever America’s official ceremony knighting the duly experienced, accomplished and original wise-people who create and perpetuate America’s living vernacular music.
- newly-inducted Jazz Master flutist Hubert Laws’ freely (not preordained, formally unconstrained) duet with earlier-inducted jazz master pianist Kenny Barron,
- Dave Liebman’s soprano saxophone solo a la Miles over and through a stirring rendition of Gil Evan’s arrangement of our national anthem “Summertime,” and
- the Marsalis family’s fittingly loose, slickly bluesy finale, in which Papa Ellis shined at the ivories and brothers Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo climaxed with a couple choruses of early New Orleans jazz polyphony, baby Jason marching them all briskly along.
Each new Jazz Master spoke, sometimes at length, and so did many of their introducers (Benny Golson blew an extravangant verbal solo). The right honorable Mr. Landesman called jazz “the distinctively American art form.”
- Young people don’t like their music classified by style,
- commercial terrestrial radio is the way most people hear new artists, and
- small clubs (but not sticky-floored dives) are the preferred places to hear jazz.
The headline from the educators was that their next meeting will be in Louisville, Kentucky. Jazz ed. is healthy (though cash-strapped) at the high school level and not too bad at college level, either; enrollments are strong, despite the realization there are few steady jobs calling for jazz school graduates. Educators are looking next to the NAMM (national association of music instrument manufacturers) conference.