Only one, comprehensive, international jazz trade event is designed to bring together everyone in the jazz music community: The Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference. Scheduled for January 6-8, 2011, and located adjacent to the French Quarter in New Orleans, the conference seeks to build upon the momentum of its inaugural conference.
According to JEN President and Co-Founder Dr. Lou Fischer, the organization "expects 2,500-3,000 in attendance at the Roosevelt Waldorf-Astoria next year." Earlier in 2010, JEN invigorated attendees at its first gatheringnearly 1,350 educators, musicians, students, broadcast/print media, and other musical genre enthusiasts from 45 states and 18 countries.
"There's a fantastic spirit of cooperation with the excitement of sharing knowledge and good times," stated Dr. Lou Fischer. The Jazz Studies Chair at Capital University in Ohio also indicated JEN received a generous grant from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, an organization that supports and perpetuates only NOLA jazz. Participation by local musicians in the conference is expected to emphasize the cultural heritage of the crescent city jazz scene.
The theme of JEN's conference this year is "honoring performance in the birthplace of jazz," says Dr. Fischer. Each annual conference focuses on one aspect of the network's mission. The first conference was focused on "shaping the future of jazz education." In 2012, the objective will be "developing tomorrow's jazz audiences today," when the reins will be turned over to Andrew Surmani from Alfred Publishing.
Other jazz gatherings and arts conferences should have minimal impact on the decision to attend the 2nd Annual JEN Conference. One hurdle for the conference seemed to be the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP), which produces our nation's largest booking conference from January 7-11, 2011 in New York. APAP Conference manager Judy Moore said, "Last year we did a fair amount of jazz (related) stuff and a lot of that had to do with NEA / BMI funding and certain people." She indicated, "it really was about filling the gap (when IAJE folded)." APAP caters to varied arts disciplines; however, the overlapping program dates left some 'jazzers' in a dilemma of which conference to attend. It recently became apparent that APAP lacked sufficient funding this year, when its "Jazz Track" was dropped from their conference schedule. Notably a "Jazz Forum" remains scheduled on the association's web site for January 11, 2011.
Any evidence of closely scheduled dates with The JazzWeek Summit in 2010 is now a moot point. Earlier this year, both the JEN and JazzWeek's Summit were closely scheduled 3-4 weeks apart from one another. Although, the summit focuses on reaching the radio and promoter audience, its next event is scheduled five months after JEN's new annual conference date in January, which should eliminate future conflicts. JazzWeek Publisher/JPL Editor, Ed Trefzger said, "JazzWeek started in response to Gavin dropping their jazz chart (2001). Then people said (we) needed to have a convention," giving birth to the JazzWeek Summit (2002), which coincidentally began at the same time as the Rochester International Jazz Festival in New York.
The number of exhibit booths confirmed for this year's event is over four times the number of exhibitors who attended the first JEN conference. A total of 89 different exhibits sold out, and tabletops are now being offered as an alternative. "Tables are quite limited and about half sold out already," cited Dr. Fischer.
Clinics and panel discussions appeal to everyone from the professional and developing jazz artist to the media and jazz teachers. Attendees will be able to take advantage of four different marketing and networking opportunities. Other highlights include: Gerald Wilson
American popular music curriculum clinic; and, last but not least, Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) presenting the clinic "Let Freedom Swing," a new teaching resource on jazz and democracy featuring Sandra Day O'Connor and New Orleans native, Wynton Marsalis
Representative John Conyers is slated as the keynote speaker of the JENeral session on Saturday, January 8, 2011. Attendees can also catch the Detroit congressman during a panel discussion on federal government support for new jazz legislation later the same day. Conyers is responsible for legislation declaring jazz as a national treasure and has served over 40 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.