Jazz beyond Jazz: July 2011 Archives
The National Endowment for the Arts has been directed by the US House Appropriations Committee in its report to Interior to continue the American Jazz Masters Fellowships and dump its proposed American Artists of the Year honors. The report also supports continuation of the NEA's National Heritage Fellowships program (but not its Opera Honors) and recommends a 2012 NEA budget $19.6 million less than it got in 2011, $11.2 million below what the NEA asked for.
"Life is glorious and vibrant and joyous at points, but it is essentially tragic. That's not a unique David Simon perspective." So sayeth David Simon, (pictured left; right is a Mardi Gras Indian portrayed by Clarke Peters), executive producer with Eric Overmyer of Treme, in a long interview on Salon conducted by Matt Zolar Seitz. The HBO series about New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which ended its second season last Sunday night, is unique as a musical drama for its grounding of psychologically acute and entertaining characterizations in a verifiably real social context -- an accomplishment attributable to Simon's hard-boiled yet compassionate philosophy and journalistically-influenced creative practices. It's all laid out in the interview, which also makes a strong case for the centrality of cities to the future of America.
"Do Watcha Wanna," the season finale of Treme, had everything I watch the series for:
- Compelling characters embodied by terrific actors;
- plausible and suspenseful quick-cutting across and interweaving of plot strands;
- confident command of realities afflicting post-Katrina/pre-Gulf oil spill New Orleans, and
- the extraordinary depiction of living, breathing, hugely enjoyable music as a central factor in peoples' lives, whether or not they're professionally involved.
The American Composers Orchestra readings of short symphonic works by jazz-oriented composers which I wrote of in my CityArts column and posted about here are now available to hear, thanks to Lara Pelligrinelli at NPR's A Blog Supreme. The 23rd annual BMI/New York Jazz Orchestra concert, featuring "New Works for Big Band" and the naming (not yet publicized) of the winner of the 11th Annual Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize. I'm looking for a third item regarding really large scale opportunities for jazz composers (and listeners), but the student competitions, festival appearances, and other emanations of a tradition which by the logic of the marketplace ought to be pretty much over are too plentiful to start to mention (ok, here's one: Savannah's 6th Annual Patriotic Big Band Salute on July 4 starring Jeremy Davis and the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra).