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2009 IAJE Conference Canceled

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

Jazzy Music Teacher Winner Announced!

2008 Jazzy Music Teacher Contest winner Tamah Freni with Mark Gross and Gary WalkerI've just put up a page on the website announcing the winner of the Jazzy Music Teacher Contest. Congratulations to Tamah Freni and her students!

Find out how the whole thing happened.
-Vicky

Marcus Strickland on We Insist: Jazz Speaks Out

clermont1.jpg

Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing a dear friend and an overwhelmingly talented musician.  Marcus Strickland, winner of the 2006 Jazz Times Reader's poll for Artist of the Year, is a unique and special artist.

On this episode of We Insist: Jazz Speaks Out, we discuss the role of jazz in the "X" generation, and the new roles jazz musicians have to take in being proactive int heir careers, in the ever-evolving record business.    Marcus talks about his new album Open Reel Deck his work with musicians outside of the jazz community and how hip-hop is influencing his music more than ever.  He also discusses the idea of "young lions" in jazz, and how it's really not so different from Charlie Parker, and Trane.  This was a great interview.  Check it out.
www.wbgo.org/weinsist

"DIGGIN' THE CLASSICS": BOBBI HUMPHREY EDITION

This edition celebrates: Bobbi Humphrey- Blacks and Blues (1973)

Tracklisting:
01. Chicago, Damn
02. Harlem River Drive
03. Just a Love Child
04. Blacks and Blues
05. Jasper Country Man
06. Baby's Gone

A true jazz-funk classic, and Humphrey's biggest hit, Blacks and Blues is a lesson in "cool jazz". Composed, produced, and partly arranged by the fantastic Mizell brothers (Larry & Fonce), this is an Lp that trend sends generations. Humphrey is never drowned out by her collaborators. Her performance as flautist (if you didn't know) fits snug in each melodic masterpiece. Bobbi even makes her vocal debut on the tracks, "Just A Love Child" and "Baby's Gone".

"....Yeah, it's kind of like that".

Some of my favorite tracks include "Chicago, Damn", "Harlem River Drive", and the title-track "Blacks and Blues".

Here is an updated version of "Harlem River Drive" (Sorry no embed available). This had to be the late 80's or early 90's. Lol.

Look what else I found: [display_podcast]

Though this is not an album that would delight a purist, it is an excellent addition to any jazz collection. The moods are laid-back, soothing, and romantic. This is in heavy rotation on my (insert plug). If you haven't had the opportunity to check this album out. Please do. It is worth every minute (hint...ladies...hint...fellas).

Perfect soundtrack for the Spring weather....well when it finally gets here.

Peace....

Dr. Billy Taylor's Online Video Archive

Dr. Billy Taylor, at 86, is still a great broadcaster. The good doctor has been spreading the jazz message on multiple broadcast platforms for more than half a century. In the 1950s, he was one of the first jazz musicians to have a daily radio program. He also hosted a weekly television show, The Subject is Jazz. He was the jazz correspondent on CBS Sunday Morning. He hosted two NPR programs, Jazz Alive and Jazz at the Kennedy Center. He founded Jazzmobile. And he's had a web presence for the last seven years. Dr. Billy Taylor's website now includes many classic videos culled from an extraordinary life in jazz. Here's one of the many gems you'll discover - a performance with Billy Taylor, Duke Ellington and Willie "The Lion" Smith:

 

While you're here, dig this interview with Dr. Taylor and WBGO's Gary Walker.
-Josh

The audacity of Jazz

While we celebrate Jazz every day here for its energy and complexity, and relish in the swing of it, and nod our heads in approval at a monster solo, it can be easy to forget that Jazz has been at the forefront of social change movements and African-American history and culture for more than a century, supporting freedom movements abroad, civil rights struggles at home and fighting against war and racial injustice both here and abroad.

To celebrate that, we've launched a new podcast series called "We Insist!: Jazz Speaks Out." Over the four half-hour episodes, host Angelika Beener talks to some of the brightest lights in Jazz about how the music influenced them and how they influenced the music. Guests include USC Professor Dr. Robin D. G. Kelly,  pianist Randy Weston; trumpeter Terence Blanchard; saxophonist Marcus Strickland and others.

Some of the featured music includes: Max Roach's "We Insist;" Miles Davis' "Jack Johnson;" Randy Weston's "Uhuru Afrika;" John Coltrane's "Alabama;" Sonny Rollins' "Freedom Suite;" and many more. The series launched Friday and we'll add epsodes weekly.

Listen (and subscribe) to the first episode here.  - David Cruz

"DIGGIN' THE CLASSICS": YUSEF LATEEF EDITION

What's going on all! Welcome to my blog series "DIGGIN' THE CLASSICS"! When new releases in the music world get slow, we all tend to dig into our collections for some vintage pleasure. Join me for my weekly (or whenever I feel like it) quest for soundtrack satisfaction. This is a blog for music lovers! "Walk With Me".

This edition celebrates: Yusef Lateef- The Gentle Giant (1972)

Tracklisting:
1. Nubian Lady
2. Lowland Lullabye
3. Hey Jude
4. Jungle Plum
5. The Poor Fishermen
6. African Song
7. Queen of the Night
8. Below Yellow Bell

Now I will admit, I am really picky when it comes to instrumental recordings. There has to be something powerful about a rhythm that speaks without words. Yusef Lateef is most definitely gifted in this area. Lateef defines his brand of music as "-insert here-", but don't call it jazz. "The Gentle Giant" is evidence of his unique talents. With Lateef playing various instruments (flute, tenor, and oboe) and a 9-minute cover of "Hey Jude" (?), there is enough variety on this album to prevent it from boring the "A.D.D." listener. One stand out track is, "Nubian Lady". The title say's it all. With it's melodic rhythms and ultra cool vibes, songs like these leave no room for words. That would just mess things up.
"I'm smiling, but don't call it jazz fool!"

Another track that stands out is "Queen of the Night" (must be something about the ladies). A funky track that has a bass line tailor made for hip-hop. It is this variety that makes this album one of his most interesting works. This Lp speaks to generations, and most likely opened the door for world music. Some refer to this album as being erratic compared to his prior works. I feel this is just a classic display of any artists' journey to evolve. This album is a honest contribution to the foundation of jaz......I mean "-insert here-". It dares to be different. ...And it is the "different" that makes it an instant classic.
"What do you mean by different?"

Herbie Wins Highest Grammy Honor

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Like many of you, I was home last night watching the Grammys.  I started not to watch it, because often times it's long, tedious, and not very interesting.  At least for someone like me who doesn't listen to a whole lot of mainstream music.  But it was a Sunday night, and I was routing for a few albums, and so I thought...why not?  I ordered up my dinner and plopped in front of the screen.

As I was watching the red carpet special, the E! host caught up with Herbie Hancock.  Herbie mentioned to the host that it had been 43 years since a Jazz album won the overall Best Album category.  Well, the Grammys have only been around for 50!  That really blew my mind.  I then began to really think about that and frankly, it truly bothered me.  I knew that the lack of well-rounded programming on the Grammys was always frustrating to me and many others, but Herbie's comment really put it into perspective for me.  I mean, think about it...I don't think I've ever just seen a quartet or a quintet just burn out on a Grammy stage.  Jazz is always packaged in some cheesy, or watered-down package on mainstream award shows.  Bad enough that the Jazz categories don't get televised!  Then when they DO show jazz-type performances, they are so "Vaudevilled" out, that it's no wonder that the masses (especially a lot of young folks) don't become necessarily interested in Jazz...the representations are all wrong!

OK, now that I'm done venting, let's talk about some of the highlights for me, and the things I'm very proud of about this year's Grammys.

HERBIE HANCOCK WON THE GRAMMY FOR ALBUM OF THE YEAR!
YES!!!! And well deserved.  It was not "stolen" as I've read a couple places in the press this morning.  I thought it was so commendable on the behalf of the academy to recognize Herbie in this way.  I think the young artists - Winehouse, Kanye and the like, needed that.  The music industry at large needed that.  They needed to see where so much of their inspiration comes from.  And that at 67, Herbie is still a giant among giants.  You don't have to check out Maiden Voyage or Empyrean Isles to know just how bad this cat is (though I strongly suggest everyone does).  He is always one to be contended with because he remains ahead of his time.  And River: The Joni Letters, is just a beautiful album.

Another special highlight for me was Terence Blanchard getting the Grammy for Best Large Ensemble Jazz Album for his
A Tale of God's Will: A Requiem for Katrina.  This album is truly special, and I'm so glad it was acknowledged in this way.  I was also happy for the late Michael Brecker to be honored.

I hope that Herbie's high-profile victory will open up the discussion about the importance of Jazz, and spark the programming folks at the Grammy's to consider including more Jazz performances, and exposing the thriving genre to a lot of folks that need to be hipped...and would greatly enjoy appreciate the music.

Congratulations to everyone!

Here's a list of all the winners

Jaleel Shaw

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This is another up-and-coming artist that I'm really excited about. Jaleel Shaw is one of the most talented and interesting young players that has come along in the latest wave of young lions. I first met Jaleel around 2002 - he was a finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition that year as well. I was completely blown away by this cat. This year, he is a recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award, along with another great young talent, Kendrick Scott.

Check him out

Oh, and Happy Birthday too!

IAJE Day 3 - North Carolina Central University With Branford Marsalis

Branford Marsalis and NCCU

Since Branford Marsalis moved to Durham, North Carolina some years ago, he has become a major proponent of the local jazz scene. He joined the North Carolina Central University Jazz Ensemble today, under the direction of Ira Wiggins (his 21st year as Director of Jazz Studies at NCCU). The young talent was already swinging pretty heavily before Branford joined them. They played Oliver Nelson's arrangement of "Down by the Riverside," from the Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery Dynamic Duo recording. Check it out below:

NCCU - Down By The Riverside

Branford Marsalis and NCCU 2

When you're a North Carolina jazz unit, it makes perfect sense to play music from one of your state's native sons. Especially when you have saxophonist Branford Marsalis, an outspoken devotee of John Coltrane. Here's John Fedchock's arrangement of a Coltrane ballad, "Central Park West":

NCCU and Branford Marsalis - Central Park West

Branford Marsalis and NCCU 3

The set ended with another Coltrane original, "Giant Steps." NCCU's two Artists-in-Residence, Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo, join the students on Frank Foster's arrangement.

NCCU with Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo - Giant Steps

- Josh Jackson