WBGO Blog
  • JazzTimes - New Visionaries of Jazz

    August 14, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.

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    Kudos to JazzTimes!  In the September issue, the cover story is "The Future Is Now: New Jazz Visionaries."  Let me start by saying that I love the first part of that headline.  I get so tired of hearing about the status of jazz, where is it going, what's going to happen to it, who will save it...you get where I'm going.  My frustration comes from being on the jazz scene and seeing and all of the amazing talent, projects, bands, artists, compositions, collaborative efforts, etc.  and then hearing those statements.  It's like "What are you talking about? Have you checked out a show lately on any given night, at any given venue in the city, for starters?"

    This article covers just a few of the "new visionaries."  Christian Scott, Aaron Parks, Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spaulding, Marcus Strickland and others.  Each artist has a full page story and photo.  I think this issue was so necessary, and I really give it up to JazzTimes for making the blatently obvious even more obvious - that jazz is alive, well, and thriving. (Now, if cats could only earn the money that the music's worth...but that's another story).

    Check out each of these artists when they're in a city near you.  Both Aaron Parks and Esperanza Spaulding will be performing at the J&R MusicFest next Friday, August 22, and WBGO will be broadcasting it live! Learn more about it by clicking here.

    Check out a live performance of Aaron Parks' "Nemesis" from the WBGO studios.  It's NPR's "Song of the Day" with commentary by WBGO's Josh Jackson.

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    Check out my interview with Marcus Strickland

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  • 2009 IAJE Conference Canceled

    April 20, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.

    Sigh.  What a drag.  I was just talking to a friend and about this yesterday.  He was telling me that IAJE is where he first met mentors like Kenny Garrett, and the peers that he works with today.  It's sad for the jazz community at large, and for all it means to the young upcoming musicians.  A personal sense of loss for sure.  Details are below...


    Friday, April 18, 2008

    American jazz gathering, planned for Seattle, is canceled

    By Paul de Barros

    Seattle Times jazz critic

    The most important American jazz gathering of the year, scheduled to take place in Seattle in January, has been canceled because its presenter is declaring bankruptcy.

    In what is being described as a "perfect storm" of bad luck, unchecked growth, fundraising and management failures, the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) - an important link to Seattle's successful school jazz-band scene - has collapsed.

    According to IAJE's legal counsel, Alan Bergman, it will go into Chapter 7 bankruptcy and be turned over to a trustee, its assets parceled out to creditors.

    A letter from the group's president, Chuck Owen, is scheduled to go out to members as early as today, announcing the bankruptcy - and essentially the dissolution - of the 40-year-old organization.

    "It's a dark day," said band director Clarence Acox, whose award-winning Garfield High School jazz band has performed at IAJE's gathering four times.

    "It's one of the best jazz events in the world, for the performances by great musicians, clinics, meetings, a place for people to network and exchange ideas. It was the one event when all the people in jazz could get together and have fellowship."

    Roosevelt High School band director Scott Brown, whose band has played the conference as well, agreed.

    "I'm bummed," said Brown. "We had hoped to perform, but it's way more global than that. It's exposure to so much music that's going on around the world, to information about the business, networking, clinicians."

    IAJE meets in different cities each year, but often in New York.

    It began in 1968 as a modest professional gathering of jazz-music teachers, holding its first conference in 1973.

    In 1997, the conference embraced an "industry track," absorbing another convention previously sponsored by JazzTimes magazine, which brought in record companies, agents, managers, radio professionals and high-profile performers such as Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones.

    Since then, the organization has formed chapters worldwide and has become the site for the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Awards ceremony; commissions of new works; an academic conference; programs to promote women in jazz; and a wide array of other programs, including a teacher-training institute.

    In a good year, the conference attracts 7,000 to 8,000 people, a must-attend for anyone involved in jazz.

    Rumors that the organization was in trouble surfaced after this year's dramatically underattended conference in Toronto, down 40 percent.

    In a March 25 letter to 8,000 members, Owen announced the suspension of IAJE's magazine, its search for a new executive director, its scholarship programs and its summer retreat.

    The letter also explained that the organization's ambitious capital campaign had spent more money in startup costs than it took in.

    Owen asked members to donate $25 and netted about $12,000 from 250 donors, according to Bergman. Greg Yasinitzy, IAJE's Northwest division coordinator, said he had been told IAJE liabilities exceeded $1 million.

    Bergman said he felt the organization's rapid growth had outstripped the expertise of its founders.

    "A bunch of jazz musicians formed this organization and it grew into a multimillion-dollar operation with a huge convention and a big staff and big journal, but it was still run by a volunteer board elected by the membership that met twice a year."

    Though the conference in Seattle has been canceled, there is already talk of a regional conference that may take place instead.

    Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

  • Coda: Dennis Irwin 11/28/51 - 3/10/08

    March 10, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Dennis Irwin Practicing

    Very sad news to report. Bassist Dennis Irwin has succumbed to his battle with cancer. Many in the jazz community gathered this evening at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Allen Room for a benefit concert to help with his medical bills.

    Saxophonist Joe Lovano stated, “There are certain people in life that make you feel at home no matter where you are. For me, Dennis Irwin is one of those people, one of my closest brothers in the music, a great teacher and scholar of all the beautiful blessings life has to offer.” We'll have more information as it becomes available.
    -Josh