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Big Awards Day in Gotham

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It's been a while since we last met in my Den, so I thought I'd share a very special summer doubleheader with you.

June 16 was a big jazz day in New York. It began in mid-afternoon at the Jazz Standard, with the 13th Annual Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards. Arriving not long after starting time, I found the joint already jumping with jazz scribes, nominees and acolytes, most of them on line for the club's very good food, doled out buffet style or at the adjacent bar, where Brother Theo's Ale was part of the deal, anything stronger strictly cash.

Conversation was not an option with Charles Tolliver
Charles Tolliver
Charles Tolliver
b.1942
trumpet
's big band going full blast. But once their brief set ended, an almost equal level of babble arose, and remained fairly constant throughout, even as awards were presented and softer music performed. To put it bluntly (and I was not alone in this opinion), it was a mighty rude crowd, musicians excepted.

Since there were almost 50 awards, I can't name them all, but among winners present to accept were pianist Hank Jones
Hank Jones
Hank Jones
1918 - 2010
piano
—also the subject of the winning photo, by John Abbott—trumpeter Terence Blanchard
Terence Blanchard
Terence Blanchard
b.1962
trumpet
, trombonist Roswell Rudd
Roswell Rudd
Roswell Rudd
b.1935
trombone
, clarinetist Anat Cohen
Anat Cohen
Anat Cohen

sax, tenor
, flutist Frank Wess
Frank Wess
Frank Wess
1922 - 2013
sax, tenor
, altoist Rudresh Mahanthappa
Rudresh Mahanthappa
Rudresh Mahanthappa
b.1971
sax, alto
, baritonist Gary Smulyan
Gary Smulyan
Gary Smulyan
b.1956
sax, baritone
, violinist Billy Bang
Billy Bang
Billy Bang
1947 - 2011
violin
, organist Dr. Lonnie Smith
Dr. Lonnie Smith
Dr. Lonnie Smith
b.1942
organ, Hammond B3
, and bandleader-pianist Arturo O'Farrill, who won for Best Latin Album; composer-trombonist George Lewis
George Lewis
George Lewis
b.1952
trombone
, whose monumental history of the AACM, A Power Stronger Than Itself, was named Best Book About Jazz, and George Wein
George Wein
George Wein
b.1925
piano
, Events Producer of the Year.

A bevy of singers gathered around Mark Murphy
Mark Murphy
Mark Murphy
b.1932
vocalist
, cited by the JJA and the Jazz Foundation of America for "Special Career Honors for Words with Music," among them Male Singer of the Year Kurt Elling
Kurt Elling
Kurt Elling
b.1967
vocalist
, old friend Sheila Jordan
Sheila Jordan
Sheila Jordan
b.1928
vocalist
, Roberta Gambarini, Giacomo Gates
Giacomo Gates
Giacomo Gates

vocalist
and Venissa Santi
Venissa Santi
Venissa Santi
b.1978
vocalist
. Scott Robinson accepted for triple winner Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider

band/orchestra
(Composer, Arranger, Large Ensemble), and managed to juggle the three trophies, and son Josh Konitz accepted the Lifetime Achievement award for his father, Lee, while nephew-trombonist Clifton Anderson
Clifton Anderson
Clifton Anderson
b.1957
trombone
did the honors for uncle Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
, Musician and Tenor saxophonist of the year.

The A Team awardees included Record Man Bruce Lundvall, for whom I was the presenter, an honor and a pleasure—Bruce is one of the best things ever to happen in the record business, soon to become history— and two friends no longer with us, Peter Levinson, author and publicist, and Richard Sudhalter, author and musician. Dick's sister Carol, playing flute and tenor sax, joined Daryl Sherman, piano and vocal, in a musical tribute to her brother that included a fine rendition of "Skylark" that dampened the babble.

Also heard from were Rumanian pianist Resonance Big Band
Resonance Big Band
Resonance Big Band

band/orchestra
, in tandem with guitarist Andreas Oberg
Andreas Oberg
Andreas Oberg
b.1978
guitar
. Petrescu sounds like Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
1925 - 2007
piano
on steroids. And it was great to see old friend Doug Ramsey, now residing in the state of Washington, and former winner of JJA's Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism, on a rare visit East.

Doug, Ira Gitler, expert blogger Marc Myers and I made our exit to share a car to the next awards happening, starting at 6:00 at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Allen Room—the ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame induction ceremony. This is always a class event. It was fun to meet new ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams, and it was a special kick for me to be a presenter again, for Anat Cohen
Anat Cohen
Anat Cohen

sax, tenor
, recipient of the very first Jazz Wall of Fame Prize for composer-performers of special talent. Anat responded with a beautiful clarinet piece, backed by her regulars, Jason Lindner, Joe Martin
Joe Martin
Joe Martin
b.1970
bass, acoustic
and Daniel Freedman on piano, bass and drums. Regina Carter got the ASCAP Foundation Vanguard Award and joined her fiddle with accordion and kora, a long- necked harp lute of the Malinke people of western Africa.

Then came the Wall of Fame inductions. First, John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
, eloquently presented by John Clayton
John Clayton
John Clayton
b.1952
bass, acoustic
, the evening's emcee, and musically saluted by Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
b.1952
saxophone
and Steve Kuhn
Steve Kuhn
Steve Kuhn
b.1938
piano
. Tito Puente
Tito Puente
Tito Puente
1923 - 2000
band/orchestra
was next, with Eddie Palmieri
Eddie Palmieri
Eddie Palmieri
b.1936
piano
, Brian Lynch
Brian Lynch
Brian Lynch
b.1956
trumpet
, Carlos Henriques and Vincent Riveria serving up a caloric tribute, and our favorite weather girl, Audrey Puente, among the relatives accepting the trophy. Randy Weston, very much alive, performed in a unique setting for his piano—three horns: Benny Powell
Benny Powell
Benny Powell
1930 - 2010
trombone
, trombone; T.K. Blue
T.K. Blue
T.K. Blue

saxophone
, alto sax, and Billy Harper
Billy Harper
Billy Harper
b.1943
saxophone
, tenor sax, and no rhythm section—and spoke movingly; composer Johnny Mandel, a native New Yorker, was honored by Karrin Allyson
Karrin Allyson
Karrin Allyson

vocalist
and accepted in warm and gentle fashion.

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