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2010: The Year in Jazz

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The jazz scene in 2010 was marked by a bit of cultural thaw between the U.S. and Cuba, royal honors for Marian McPartland
Marian McPartland
Marian McPartland
1918 - 2013
piano
that led honors galore for living jazz musicians, and significant acknowledgments for late jazz greats across North America. Efforts continued to expand jazz into new realms—or to hold on during the aftershocks of the Great Recession that began two years ago.

On the performance front, nothing could top Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
's 80th birthday event at New York's Beacon Theater on September 10. Rollins' regular band was augmented that evening by trumpeter Roy Hargrove
Roy Hargrove
Roy Hargrove
b.1969
trumpet
, drummer Roy Haynes
Roy Haynes
Roy Haynes
b.1926
drums
, bassist Christian McBride
Christian McBride
Christian McBride
b.1972
bass
, guitarist Jim Hall
Jim Hall
Jim Hall
1930 - 2013
guitar
and saxophonist Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
. It was the first public performance together by Rollins and Coleman, the altoist beating the tenor saxophonist to octagenarian status by six months.

Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
b.1954
guitar
drew attention throughout the year in Europe, North America and Asia with his Orchestrion tour, which featured the guitarist "solo," playing a stage full of instruments triggered either by pneumatics or electronic solenoids controlled by a MIDI system. Metheny keyed it all with foot pedals, guitar knobs and a small electronic touchpad. In a Boston stop, Metheny described the project as "my brain at nine years-old, taken to the 21st century."



Here's a look at other significant things that took place in 2010:


Cultural thaw

Mark 2010 as the first full year since 2003 that the United States gave visas to Cuban jazz artists. And there were some significant interchanges taking place in both countries due to this thaw in the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. Things started easing in the fall of 2009 when Cuban singer Omara Portuondo
Omara Portuondo
Omara Portuondo
b.1930
vocalist
became one of the first Cuban artists to receive a U.S. visa under new Obama administration rules, enabling her to collect a Latin Grammy in Las Vegas and to be a presenter on the show.

In October 2010, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra traveled to Havana for a six-day residency that involved both concerts and clinics for young Cuban musicians. The visit, led by trumpeter and artistic director Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
b.1961
trumpet
, took place under the auspices of the Cuban Institute of Music.

Then, pianist Chucho Valdes
Chucho Valdes
Chucho Valdes
b.1941
piano
and his Afro-Cuban Messengers made a 12-city U.S. tour that included two nights at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Room in Manhattan and hop-scotched around the Northeast and West Coast. Valdés also performed solo at New York's Village Vanguard before taking his band tour to Europe.

In December, pianist and bandleader Arturo O'Farrill traveled to Cuba with the orchestra of his late father, Cuban composer and arranger Chico O'Farrill
Chico O'Farrill
Chico O'Farrill
1921 - 2001
composer/conductor
, for another emotional cultural and educational exchange. The Chico O'Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra headlined the 26th edition of the Havana International Plaza Jazz Festival, sponsored by the Cuban Institute of Music and the National Center of Popular Music.






Savoring 1930s recording treasures

Without a doubt, it is a treasure trove that will keep historians, critics and hardcore listeners busy for quite a while. The National Jazz Museum in Harlem this year acquired nearly 1,000 discs made in the late 1930s—at the height of the Swing Era—by audio engineer William Savory. It is classic material, including Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
1901 - 1971
trumpet
, Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
1909 - 1986
clarinet
. Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
1915 - 1959
vocalist
, Fats Waller
Fats Waller
Fats Waller
1904 - 1943
piano
and many others. The discs include extended live performances recorded from radio broadcasts. The museum plans to make as much as possible of the Savory collection publicly available at its space in Harlem and eventually online. Copyright issues could complicate and slow the process. Recording engineer Doug Pomeroy is transferring the surviving 975 discs to digital.


Honors and Awards Galore



Marian McPartland, O.B.E.: Pianist and National Public Radio host Marian McPartland was awarded the prestigious "Officer of the Order of the British Empire" by Queen Elizabeth II. She was honored on January 1, 2010 for services to jazz and for aspiring young musicians in the United States. U.K. native McPartland's Piano Jazz is in its 31st year and is NPR's longest-running and most widely carried jazz program.



Blues Trail: Singer Cassandra Wilson
Cassandra Wilson
Cassandra Wilson
b.1955
vocalist
was honored with a Mississippi Blues Trail marker in her hometown of Jackson. The dedication ceremony took place in the auditorium of Brinkley Middle School where Wilson got her start in music.


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