main: May 2008 Archives
Why don't jazz journalists care about the biggest names in jazz? When Awards are given for jazz excellence, why don't in-the-know critics applaud the popular musicians, top record sellers and radio playlist stars?
Two upcoming Awards presentations highlight these questions. The Jazz Journalists Association with a cocktail barbeque buffet on Wednesday June 18 at the Jazz Standard, in Manhattan, hails the jazz aesthetic but risks preaching to the choir. The First International Jazz Awards, advertised as a "two-hour televised extravaganza" hosted by comedian D.L Hughley at the Beverley Hilton in Beverley Hills on June 29, bases its nominations on Soundscan's top jazz sellers," contributing to the tautology "What sells best is best." Everyone knows that, right?
I heard the future here and now -- let's call it the present! -- in the form of trumpeter Igmar Thomas & The Cypher with MC Raydar Ellis the other night at a public party produced by Revive Da Live, which promotes the jazz-hip/hop mashup in realtime performances, and I was surprised -- not bad at all, in fact it was a lot of fun.
Listen Up! is the title of Matt Miller's new listing blog, which will migrate from Jazz Beyond Jazz to a whole new host-site next week; but 'til then, read on:
Recommendations by an emerging music journalist/tenor sax player for convention-shattering musical events in New York City over the next week (May 16 - 22) . . .
Saxophonist and Love of Life Orchestra leader Peter Gordon gave one of the most lucid presentations at the recent Experience Music Project's Pop Conference -- being the only person over three days to perform a note of music within their allotted 20 minutes. Of course, his reasonable, arguably achievable suggestions may seem outrageous, given the outrages of our time -- but I offer them here with hopes presumptive nominees for president of all parties in the U.S. (and why not abroad?) give serious consideration to their support, in exchange for the gratitude and perhaps the votes of the music-lovin' public.
Also, see Matt Miller's newest recommendations for NYC performances -- Comin' Right Up.
The June issue of Down Beat magazine (subtitled "Jazz, Blues & Beyond") features my cover story about trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, who has enjoyed a blazing and extended artistic youth, but at age 70 is now somewhat chastened, struggling with challenges to his chops while eager to reaffirm the legitimacy of his reputation.
The issue also contains my review of musician and educator George E. Lewis's epic history of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians -- here represented by his friend Douglas Ewart's quintet). I've posted my writer's edition of that report, as it was trimmed just a little for length,
Also -- introducing Matt Miller's recommendations for music in New York City -- comin' right up.
Talk about a legendary career: Chicago saxophonist and clarintest Franz Jackson, who died at age 95 on May 6, spanned American vernacular music from the Roaring '20s to the postmodern present. He began as a 16-year-old professional with stride and boogie woogie pianist Albert Ammons, starred as a featured soloist in the the hottest Depression Era big bands, entertained WWII troops under USO auspices, popularized Midwestern neo-traditional "jass" in the '50s and '60s and kept playin' in essentially uncategorical situations up until a couple of weeks of his demise.
Among Jackson's recent high visibility gigs were his turn at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival of 2007, and also last year's "Tribute to Fletcher Henderson" commissioned by the Jazz Institute of Chicago for the Great Black Music Ensemble, performed at the Frank Gehry bandshell in Millenium Park, where he sat amid creative musicians less than half his age, not revisiting the past but rather carrying it forward.
This week highlights a happily frequent dilemma for the avid listener in New York: too many good choices of exciting, exploratory, street-smart and unbounded American music -- "the real blues, the new blues," as Albert Ayler called jazz-beyond-jazz back in 1964. All on Friday, May 9:
- The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) celebrates favorite son George E. Lewis's epic new book with high class talk and promising improv;
- Miles Davis alumni meet Southeast Asian virtuosos at Town Hall to attempt Bob Belden's arrangements from the fascinating cd Miles From India,and
- urban-ethno percussionist Adam Rudolph and nu-jazz electronica trumpeter Graham Haynes will balance a similarly ancient/future sound.
- There's much more. Jazz-beyond-jazz bustin' out all over; it must be spring.