Well, today started for me at 12:47. After listening to my friend’s new album with him and giving him comments on what he might change before releasing it, we shared a cab to Manhattan. He got off Downtown. I was going to Midtown for more jazz hedonism. Cab cost $30 without tip!
Went straight into the Sheraton Hotel and realized I had forgotten my badge in Brooklyn. No problem, I walked into the Jason Moran Blindfold Test hosted by jazz journalist Dan Ouellette without being checked for it. I arrived late but the tunes I was there for included Abdullah Ibrahim from an album called African something (ENJA 2002), Keith Jarrett from Radiance (ECM 2005), Medeski Martin & Wood from It’s A Jungle In Here (Gramaphone 1992), Jaki Byard from Live at Maybeck Hall Vol 17 (Concord 1992), The Bad Plus from their latest – Suspicious Activity? (Columbia 2005), and Harry Connick ,Jr. w/ Branford Marsalis from Occaison (Marsalis Music 2005). Jason offered very deep, heartfelt commentary on each tune. He got Abdullah Ibrahim, Keith Jarrett, MMW (only by chance – before finding out for sure who it was he gave it 2 stars. He said that he knows John Medeski’s playing both on organ and piano have improved immensely since then – that he has had more life experiences now), Jaki Byard (he got very emotional answering this one since Byard was his teacher and mentor), and The Bad Plus, He didn’t get the Harry Connick Jr. w/ Branford.
Now I am listening to the WDR Big Band with Paquito D’Rivera play the Sheraton Ballroom. Getting a little restless.
I will try to blog about yesterday below thought I have almost forgotten the day since so much good shit happened to me. My day started around 8:30 when I woke up, quickly dressed and took the subway in to the conference. I caught the JJA panel “Who Asked You Anyways” where I was very pleased to sit down and talk with JazzTimes and DownBeat columnist (now author too) Nate Chinen who is a friend of my good friend Randy Wong (from their days growing up together in Hawaii). Nate gave me some tips on how to further my career as a journalist if I want to go that route. I think I need to start really trying to actively make deadlines and such so I can write for the City Paper and other alternative print media that might pay me something. This requires sitting on partially-fleshed-out articles/stores sometimes before you get a bite from an editor to publish it. This was very informative.
Then I happened to be sitting there in the same seat and who should walk right in but DON LUCOFF. I know he sounds like a Mafioso but he is not. He is the KING of jazz public relations and promotions. His clients include Marsalis Music, Blue Note Records, and many many others including all the major concerts at IAJE (controlling the press and arranging seating stuff). By sitting in on this informal session of jazz publicists including Jason Byrne, Jana La Sorte, some people from Jazz @ Lincoln Center’s public relations department, and the people from Don’s company DL Media, I impressed a lot of people with my savvy of blogs, myspace, facebook, and bulletin boards as grassroots means of publicity that are increasingly important for the changing generation of music listeners. I spent most of the day hanging with musicians whom I had written articles about including trumpeter Ray Vega.
I also attended an excellent session on big bands and how the successful ones are doing what they do. These included Maria Schneider, John Clayton, Charles Tolliver, Gordon Goodwin, and Arturo O’Farrill. The moderator was John Clayton’s manager and big band/vocalist specialist Gail Boyd, a very talented lawyer and jazz advocate. They discussed issues as far ranging as the semantics of ‘big band’ versus ‘jazz orchestra’, and government financing of big bands, to how to start your first big band and union rates for musicians and whether they are still appropriate and whether these band leaders use that kind of scale or one that is more realistic for their monetary limits and one that cats are still willing to work with.
At night, the National Endowment for the Arts presented their annual Jazz Masters awards. The two featured big bands of the night were the Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra and the Count Basie ghost band feat. Nnenna Freelon (who really got under my skin with her wit, personality, and spontaneity on stage). Walt Weiskopf took a killer solo with Faddis’ band on Coltrane’s Countdown arranged by Slide Hampton. Then after all the awards to Ray Barretto, Chick Corea, John Levy, Buddy DeFranco, Freddie Hubbard, and Bob Brookmeyer were handed out with a video montage for each chronicling their careers, the two bands played again. They invited old Jazz Masters in the room to come up on stage and jam on Count Basie’s “One O’Clock Jump.” As Slide Hampton, Paquito D’Rivera made their way on stage and Chick Corea followed, this tiny boy approached the stage with his trumpet in hand. Apparently he considered himself a jazz master and accordingly wanted to jam on the blues. The audience meanwhile was anxiously murmuring, wonderding whether this kid was for real or not. But when they let him play, he played HIS ASS OFF. The crowd roared for him. At the end, Jon Faddis announced “that was 10-year old Tyler Lindsay.” Wow. That was the highlight to close a great night and day of history, discussion of the present, and promise for the future.
After a day in the hotels, I headed into the “field” to see Mulgrew Miller w/ Vincent Herring on alto, Eddie Henderson & Maurice Brown on trumpets, guest saxophonist Wayne Escoffery (who had just come from blowing the crowds away with the Mingus Big Band/Dynasty/Orchestra (one of my top 10 picks of 2005), Ruben Rogers on bass, Lenny White on drums,
Back to today:
Now, it’s already 5:00 PM and I am gonna head over to a session called Major Indies – a discussion of indie jazz labels that are leading the crowd of people trying to present recorded jazz to the masses without corporate support.
Catch y’all later. Tonight is gonna be an insane night of shows.