New NEA Jazz Masters: A classy last class

The National Endowment for the Arts's final designated Jazz Masters are all worthy: drummer Jack DeJohnette, saxophonist Von Freeman, bassist Charlie Haden, singer Sheila Jordan and trumpeter-educator-organizer-gadfly Jimmy Owens have had long and profoundly influential if not broadly celebrated or financially rewarded creative careers. So much the worse that this 30 year program highlighting genuine American artistic heroes has been zeroed out in the 2012 budget, to be replaced by proposed "American Artist of the Years Awards" that … [Read more...]

NEA Jazz Masters concert on ustream, NEA gives 1/4 mil for gigs

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. It was great to actually be there, too -- amid a throng of jazz's most powerful public and private supporters -- beside those who make the music, those who present, teach, promote, record, fund, think, write, broadcast, … [Read more...]

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 … [Read more...]

Beyond “jazz” conventions from NEA Jazz Masters

Jazz, defined by creativity, pushes boundaries -- a fact alluded to and demonstrated by two of the new NEA Jazz Masters at the gratifying if lengthy ceremony and concert held at Rose Theater of Jazz at Lincoln Center on Tuesday, Jan 12. Muhal Richard Abrams and Yusef Lateef were inducted into the canon that now recognizes 114 musicians and advocates of what House Congressional Resolution 57 (passed with Senate concurrence in 1987) calls "a rare and valuable national American treasure." Both men performed in ways that draw from but aren't … [Read more...]

Jazz journalists confer with APAP, NEA

The Jazz Journalists Association's five days of programming in coordination with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference and Nat'l Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters events was a raging success on several fronts. Activities included the educational, informational, musical, productive and social. Overall, the JJA conference counted approximately 100 participants. … [Read more...]

Jazz journalism & beyond weekend

Jazz journalists conferenced in New York City last weekend as arts presenters, National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters and musical showcases galore (including an audience-happy Winter Jazzfest and the debut of drummer Jack DeJohnette's hot new band) justified the very existence of the profession. … [Read more...]

Arts Presenters meet Jazz Journalists

The Jazz Journalists Association has scheduled a multi-faceted professional conference for Jan 8 - 12 in NYC, concurrent with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters annual conference (which is producing a Special Focus on Jazz), the two-night multi-venue Winter Jazzfest, one-night but multi-stage globalFEST, and the Nat'l Endowment of the Arts's presentation of 2010's Jazz Masters. It's the first time the JJA (of which I'm president) has worked in conjunction with APAP and the NEA to bring the people who disseminate music news … [Read more...]

Hurray for the new NEA Jazz Masters

Dean of post-jazz Muhal Richard Abrams,  doyenne of vocalese Annie Ross and George Avakian, who invented jazz albums and reissues, popularized the LP and live recording, are among eight 2010 Jazz Masters named today by the National Endowment of the Arts. New York-based pianists Kenny Barron and Cedar Walton, exploratory reedist Yusef Lateef, big band composer-arranger Bill Holman and vibist Bobby Hutcherson complete the list of the NEA's new honorees, who receive $25,000 grants and significant honors starting next January with ceremonies and a … [Read more...]

Meet the NEA’s new Jazz Masters

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 … [Read more...]