April 21, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
A Billy Strayhorn melody is so very nice to hear on solo piano. A Billy Strayhorn medley is even better when there are two pianos. In 1983, at the Jazz Forum in New York, the lyrical master John Hicks and the underrated Albert Dailey put Strayhorn's music on display for more than twenty-three minutes. 'Star-Crossed Lovers' (aka "Pretty Girl") and 'Chelsea Bridge' were songs that I always believed Strayhorn had tailor-made for their respective soloists, Johnny Hodges and Ben Webster. However, these are such tremendous songs, all they require are the hands of any master musician. On this particular evening in September, they received four master hands, and 176 piano keys.
Listen to the Billy Strayhorn medley, from the WBGO Archives.
© 2008 WBGO
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...
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
© 2008 WBGO
April 20, 2008. Posted by Becca Pulliam.
Hi there! Thursday night at Smalls, Jason Lindner's first set packed the room. Four players - Jason on piano, Mark Turner on tenor, Omer Avital on bass, Jeff Ballard on drums. Four tunes - Night Has a Thousand Eyes - nice choice .. Lost by Wayne Shorter - hanging chords .. Pannonica by Monk - lots of rhythm .. Siboney by Ernesto Lecuona - a danzon that evolved into more of a tarantella. Smalls' one-flight-down jazz den rose to another spiritual level. Your ear witness, Becca Pulliam
© 2008 WBGO
April 18, 2008
Here's a brief clip from "Elevator to the Gallows," Louis Malle 's directorial debut (1958). It's the famous scene with the lovely Jeanne Moreau walking the streets of Paris in search of her lover, Julien, who's stuck in an elevator in the office building where he works because he had to go back and cover the tracks of his murder, except that the night watchman turned it off because - well, you really have to see the film to get all the details. This is just one of the classic films that'll be screened as part of "Jazz Score," a multi-media exhibit that kicks off this week at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. You can hear my talk with the co-curators when you go here. - David Cruz
© 2008 WBGO
April 18, 2008. Posted by Simon Rentner.
I attended the BossaBrasil festival last night at Birdland, the first concert of the season celebrating bossa nova's 50th anniversary, although I dont know if it qualifies as a festival because it really only featured two musicians -- pianist Cesar Camargo Mariano and guitarist Joao Bosco -- in an innovative combo, with Harry Allen on sax, Marcelo Mariano on bass, and Jurim Moreira on drums. Both Cesar and Joao are Brazilian legends, and are worthy of all the hype and praise. However the concert didn't necessarily make that point. There is no question that the show had some high points. Every moment that Joao Bosco played with Cesar and the band during the second half was captivating. He elevated the music to a spiritual level, and provoked the best out of his cohorts, especially from Mariano. But if anyone worships the early Cesar Camargo Mariano trio recordings of the 1960s (like I do) -- some of which features the radical and highly-advanced Airto on trap set -- the first 30 minutes of the Birdland performance might be a bit of a let down. The rhythm section seemed too docile for Mariano's energetic style, especially the careening left hand, his signature form of Brazilian boogie-woogie playing heard from his early releases. Harry Allen's sound came so close to Stan Getz, you could close your eyes and swear you were hearing those Getz bossa nova recordings of the sixties. Therein lies the problem, if you love bossa nova. Frankly, many Brazilians don't acknowledge those records as real bossa nova in the first place...
If you want more insight into that last remark, you'll have to wait for my upcoming bossa nova documentary, "50 Years of the Beat," scheduled to air on WBGO this June. I still highly recommend checking out the show at Birdland, running through the weekend, your chance to see two of Brasil's best in top form.
In the meanwhile, click here to listen to a few Cesar Camargo Mariano's early recordings from the 1960s (which are extremely rare in the US), plus the riveting interview with WBGO's Michael Bourne. - Simon
© 2008 WBGO