main: September 2008 Archives

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 a lively place that has involved notable musicians as faculty and produced an impressive number of famed alumni. Being in the thick of it, though, you're bound to wonder: What's the point of this jazz education?

September 29, 2008 11:10 AM | | Comments (3)
The free and highly entertaining online radio website -- 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 low-common-denominator monoculture. 

What Pandora offers is better (more open. exploratory, innovative) than that, and in this case surprising supported by the Recording Industry Association of America, the group that's been suing music downloaders on behalf of the record industry. Ridiculous as that effort is, by standing with Pandora RIAA gets it right. Take a look at Pandora founder Tim Westergren's blog for details of the grass-roots phone-in campaign that pushed favorable legislation through the House of Reps. -- and sign up to protect a free 'n' easy way to sample music beyond whatever music you personally already are into, rather than being stuck with whatever top 100 cuts stations figure everyone can deal with. As if we are all one undifferentiated ear!
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September 28, 2008 8:35 PM | | Comments (1)
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 of his 76th birthday. This afternoon in Brooklyn, Jazz Passenger alto saxophonist/storyteller Roy Nathanson hosts a party at which attendees supporting Obama will call voters in swing-states, making the case. Further such jazz activism seems likely.

Not to be unfair to the other side: Google "McCain" and "jazz" and here's the top relevant result.

Political Picture - John McCain
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September 21, 2008 11:45 AM | | Comments (8)
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 hotels, restaurants, wine bars, beer halls and coffee shops with local and regional fans. They came to hear headliners including Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, the SF Jazz Collective, the Bad Plus, Chick Corea and Gary Burton, Charles Lloyd and other impressive artists, along with panel discussions (which last year I helped plan) and enrichment events hosted by Portland State University, among other area institutions. 

As produced by Royston and a small, efficient staff, the Portland Jazz Festival put this city of just over half-a-million on the international jazz map. Its ticketed and free concerts held at venues ranging from restored movie theaters to hotel ballrooms to local bars was accounted a success by enthusiastic audiences, gratified musicians and professional critics brought in from the East Coast and Canada to observe and interact with middle-aged devotees and a rising young crowd.

September 8, 2008 9:17 AM | | Comments (1)
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 policy in its platform, and I remember writing to McCain during the 1980s objecting to his desire to de-fund the NEA). He's clearly no jazz candidate -- whereas Barack Obama spoke at the site of the Detroit Jazz Festival, on Labor Day, and San Francisco musicians are lining up behind him with a fundraising jam in San Francisco, October 13.

But that's another posting: back to the NEA panelists -- 
September 5, 2008 10:18 AM | | Comments (1)
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 Popular Music. Fair choices, all. These are professionals whose works sometimes are truly inspired.   
September 3, 2008 6:40 PM | | Comments (1)
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 throughout his remarkable career has alluded to as "free jazz," "harmolodics" and "sound grammar," upon easy access and unpressured exposure, is as natural as breathing, feeling and talking. As Coleman declared on one of his recordings almost 50 years ago, This is our music.
September 1, 2008 11:30 AM | | Comments (3)



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