JJA Awards 2004 Brings Jazz Community Together at B.B. King's
“ Being here reminds me how small our community is. It is one family. I love it. ”
New York City has the largest jazz community in the world, but there are too few times when the community congregates other than at funerals and memorials. One such joyous time was this past week when the "community" gathered to see Dave Brubeck receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter bestowed with Musician of the Year, the legendary Hank Jones, Pianist of the Year, Vijay Iyer, Up and Coming Musician, and Gene Lees honored with the Jazz Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jazz Journalists Association.
It was the "Academy Awards of Jazz:" the Eighth Annual JJA Jazz Awards 2004 celebration on June 15 at B.B. King's Blues Club and Grill-a star-studded event that produced 52 winners out of over several hundred more nominees. Comic/social activist Dick Gregory, guest host, said, "I loved it. It was easy; it was real nice. When I think about how many people listen to jazz, I think it's great to see people like the ones here doing something to help keep musicians alive and happy, especially ones who are in the twilight of their years."
Some of the proceeds of the event-including all of the money from the Silent Auction of jazz photographs-went to the Jazz Foundation of America's Jazz Musicians' Emergency Fund, said producer and emcee Howard Mandel, president of the Jazz Journalists Association, a New York City-based worldwide group of more than 400 writers, editors, photographers, broadcasters and new media professionals. He is editor of Jazzhouse.orgthe official website of the JJA, whose members did the nominating and votingand where all of the winners of the awards are posted. "The JJA's musician award winners truly play some of the best jazz that's ever been made, regardless of stylistic or genre distinctions, and its journalists honorees can proudly claim the admiration of their colleagues and peers." Another website, AllAboutJazz.com, was the winning Best Website concentrating on Jazz. Vying with AAJ were JazzCorner.com, JazzInstituteofChicago.com, and JazzTimes.com.
Jazz photographer Enid Farber, who won for an Excellence in Photography and Best Photograph Award a few years ago, said, "I'm glad my photo I donated of Ray Charles sold! It got six bids, and went for $200." Hers was one of 18 photos in the celebrated JJA photo auction. This year the Excellence in Photography Award went to Lee Tanner, and out of 24 entries, the Photo of the Year award went to John Abbott for his unusual photograph (posted at Jazzhouse.org) of Hank Jones taken at the great man's 85th birthday celebration last summer at the Blue Note. Besides, Tanner, the other nominees for the Excellence in Photography/the Lona Foote-Bob Parent Award this year were Mitchell Seidel, Jack Vartoogian, Jimmy Katz, Lauren Deutsch, and Lourdes Delgado.
Five hundred crowded into the 42nd Street club for a 4-7 p.m. gala in which 33 musicians were honored in their categories, as well as 11 journalists, websites or publications covering jazz, and eight A Team individuals who are advocates, "aiders and abettors" of jazz.
Pianist Jill McManus said she thinks the medical and emergency fund "is doing fantastic things for jazz musicians who are going to need its help. We're all getting older, and it's a life that doesn't leave you with a cozy medical emergency amount." This is the fourth year in a row that the JJA's Jazz Awards have given money to the Musicians Emergency Fund, as well as to the JJA's educational initiatives. "The JJA is proud to have contributed in small ways to strengthening the network of medics in the U.S. who are volunteering their expertise to artists and other independent contractors who might lack access to preventative guidance and necessary treatment," says Mandel. Audience members were urged to get medical testing, including screening for prostate cancer, a disease that has afflicted some in the jazz industry.