A periodic review of the jazz Internet, presented with a spot of commentary. Because what's the use of having a blog without a little
cynical editorializingprescient editorial dialogue?
--The 2010 NEA Jazz Masters: The NEA made the announcement yesterday of who the honorees are. A wide-ranging selection from experimentalist pioneers (Muhal Richard Abrams, Yusef Lateef) to relatively slept-on dudes with distinct musical voices (Bill Holman, Bobby Hutcherson) to elegant fan favorites (Cedar Walton, Kenny Barron, Annie Ross). And one for producer George Avakian too. As one of my colleagues wrote me, "Hey look! It's actually a good list this year!" I'm inclined to agree: for one, I'm happy to see a still-active AACM co-founder caking off a $25,000 grant and being recognized at Jazz at Lincoln Center, former epicenter of the Jazz Wars battlegrounds. Of course, the comment is, as always, "Why didn't these guys ever get anything at the height of their mastery?"
--Sun Ra Arrival Day: Speaking of NEA Jazz Masters, one of the very first three, a one Le Sony'r Ra, came onto the earth 95 years ago today. (Could someone who was alive in 1982 tell me how this happened, please?) Those in the Philadelphia area wishing to commemorate the occasion can check out the Pathways to Unknown Worlds exhibition at Penn's Institute of Contemporary Art; there's also a concert happening Sunday night in honor of Arkestra torchbearer Marshall Allen's 85th. (H/T Audio Gumbo)
--Frankie Manning's 95th: The late Lindy Hop pioneer would also have been turning 95. Much rejoicing in memoriam in New York with -- what else? -- a weekend-long dance party.
--The West Valley High School Jazz Band: Cute. No school or institutional support for a jazz band -- so enterprising students formed their own. Incidentally, if any of these guys go on to a career in music, it'll be good practice for the real world.
--The Beijing Ninegate Jazz Festival: Via the New York Times travel blog, of all places, mention of a rather large Chinese jazz festival. Anyone know anything about the scene in China? There was this NPR report about the golden age of jazz in the international city of Shanghai, but it would be curious to see reports on what the state of the art is there today. At very least, Ninegate has the curatorial and financial wherewithal to mount some sort of flagship event, unlike some imprudent agencies.
--In Conversation With Fred Hersch: I haven't engaged the fella's music as much as I probably ought to yet, but Holy Hell is this jazz.com interview good. There's the part where he reminisces about his career, and hanging at Bradley's, etc. &c. But the real meat is when he opens up about his battle back to the stage -- aren't many jazz musicians almost killed by AIDS in the prime of their careers. (Aren't many openly gay jazz musicians in general, but that's another post.) Anyway, it makes one want to see the film being referenced (Let Yourself Go: The Lives Of Fred Hersch) and spin his latest disc, currently being lauded around critics' circles. And! His trio plays NPR Music & WBGO's Live At The Village Vanguard concert series on Wed., Jul. 22. (Fred Hersch's Full NPR Artist Archive)
--Benny Goodman's Birthday: Ok, so it's actually next weekend that Benny Goodman would have been 100. But every year on Memorial Day weekend, WKCR in New York plays big band music at every opportunity in an unofficial salute to the man. This year, however, it's on: A 15-day festival of nothing but Benny Goodman music, from May 17 through June 1 at 3 p.m. (Full disclosure: It's my alma mater I'm talking about here, but is this not significant?) You'll have to navigate a rather dated (non-updated, even) Web site, but you can listen online if you're not within striking distance of 89.9 FM in New York.