Gowanus, a Brooklyn neighborhood so unlovely it’s been named an EPA superfund site, is Ground Zero now for music lofts, as reported in my new City Arts-New York column. In a half dozen or so artist-run spaces — including IBeam, Douglas Street Collective, Littlefield, the Brooklyn Lyceum and Issue Project Room — available for presentation and rehearsal of hard-core experimental sounds, dance, video and performance art, the programming is typically spiky, ambitious and unsentimental.
Archives for February 2011
National Endowment for the Arts’ FY-12 budget eliminates a 30-year-old Jazz Masters Awards program, and special recognition with National Heritage Fellowships and Opera honors, in favor of Artist of the Year Awards available for the entire spectrum of performing artists (all forms of music and theater as one). Here’s the NEA’s statement, issued through a spokesperson, regarding its “modification of honorifics,” in response to some issues I alluded to yesterday, which seem sure to reverberate with diverse effects throughout the U.S.’s far-flung and various jazz communities.
The National Endowment of the Arts’ FY-12 Appropriations Request has just been posted, and cuts $21 million to return to its 2008 funding level. Among program “modifications”: the establishment of “American Artists of the Year awards,” which will “remove specific reference to Jazz, Folk, and Opera” and give discipline awards annually in two categories:
- Performing Arts: Dance/Music/Opera/Musical Theater/Theater
- Visual Arts: Design/Media Arts/Museums/Visual Arts (including crafts)
This evidently means the end of the Jazz Masters Fellowships, which have been conferred upon 123 people since it began in 1982. Jazz Masters have also been documented by the Smithsonian Institution’s Oral History Project, and have received tour support for live performances.
Best New Artist of the Year, according to the Grammys, is Esperanza Spalding, a 26-year-old jazz bassist and singer whose most recent album is titled Chamber Music Society. What!? or should the question be, How?! Full congrats, she’s as bright a rising star as has emerged from jazz by virtue of her charm and chops since 2006 — when Junjo, her first CD, was released. She beat out some kid named Justin Bieber, whose fans are enraged.
Cabaret is a forum for the classic American pop song — and the death of singer Mary Cleere Haran, hit by a car coming out of a driveway while she was riding her bike in Deerfield Beach, Fla., robs the world of an activist who interpreted, updated and preserved those brilliant, melodious standards.Â The genre and milieu in which she worked isn’t my preferred entertainment, but there’s no denying the centrality in sophisticated contemporary culture of the words and music of Rodgers and Hart and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Frank Loesser, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer and the many others celebrated by Haran, age 58, who wrote and produced shows and contributed significantly to television documentaries about the stars and songs of the U.S. in the mid 20th Century. Though there are performers as devoted to sustaining this legacy of wit and glamor as she, when an artist as deeply into their speciality it taken from the stage in their prime, that specialty is severely wounded, too.