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Patricia Nicholson Parker: Everyone Has a Vision

By Published: June 3, 2008

AAJ: Following on from the subject of respecting people is the Lifetime achievement award, I guess you would call it, which has happened every year of late at the Vision Festival. This year New Orleans saxophonist Edward Kidd Jordan is going to be honored on June 11th. I've seen some criticism that there's no actual award or honor being presented to the recipient while they are there. Are there any plans to remedy this?

align=center>Patricia Nicholson Parker / Vision Festival

PNP: I know, the word award is weird and we should probably not have used it. But it isn't really true either. We didn't give an award at the event, but I did try to give them extra money, although I didn't do it formally at the Festival. I think the criticism is a little mean. I think it's valid though and I don't know, but maybe we will do something public this year. We are going to give Kidd Jordan, like we gave Bill Dixon and we gave Fred Anderson, we gave a bunch of people things after the Festival, we gave them a framed painting by Jeff Schlanger. So we are doing that as well as the extra money. I haven't been able to get grants for this so it has to come out of the whole, so it's not as much as I wish it could be. I do whatever I can. I do something to acknowledge their achievement and I find a way to make that work. I probably should do it publicly and I probably will say something this year and do something symbolic at the Festival itself.

AAJ: That will be good.

PNP: You know, you get these awards, and you get a piece of plastic. What I do, the acknowledgement has been to really focus on what that person's achievements have been. I've got to say that I'm so happy that Scott [Menhinick, publicist] put this bio together for Kidd Jordan. I'm so pleased with it. There really didn't exist a good bio of Kidd Jordan anywhere. Scott put this together and it really does give you a sense of how much Kidd Jordan has done and how important he is.

AAJ: You have a new group appearing this year, following appearances from your PaNic group in previous years—the Celestial Moon Beams funk group. How did that come about?

PNP: This is fun. It has the same concept as RUCMA, the community initiative. I think it is actually the group that people like the most, because it's an avant jazz funk band. I wrote the music and the words and the words carry the idea. I don't sing in it. I have different parts of my personality and this is my funk soul. I can't sing like that, so Sabir (Mateen) is great and Flip (Lewis Barnes) is great. I wish in a way that I had Cooper-Moore in it, 'cause he was in one of the performances. This band has performed a few times, with the musicians singing and the dance and capoeira. It just goes with the music.

AAJ: You received "Producer of the Year" award from the Jazz Journalists Association in 2003, were nominated in 2005, won again in 2007, and have been nominated again this year—what does this recognition mean to you?

PNP: I'm thankful for what support I get. It's a little ironic to me I have to say, because they don't award the artists that I present. How can they award me and not award the artists? I don't get it. I'm embarrassed by it. But of course I appreciate it. It's fun to receive an award.

AAJ: I noticed that some of the Vision type artists have been nominated this year.

PNP: They usually mention a couple of people, but they never win. I don't know what to say. I'm trying to learn to hold my tongue.

AAJ: Last year you were able to commission pieces to be premiered at the Festival from Roy Campbell, Bill Dixon and William Parker, and then subsequently released on CD. Do you see any prospect of sustained support to allow this initiative to continue?

Patricia Nicholson ParkerPNP: I don't know. That particular grant doesn't exist this year. And another source of funding for commissioning has also come to an end. So it won't be easy. Also that grant that funded those three commissions included releasing the CDs. And with all the things I do, releasing CDs is too much work. I didn't realize quite how much work. I thought it was going to be more straightforward and would be out of my hair most of the time, but it was way too much in my hair. The performances were fantastic. I was so thrilled with the performances of those pieces, and proud. They were so great, and I thought that they were so special and I'm really happy they've been recorded. But then you want the recording to be right and there were little problems with this and that to get the sound right 'cause there were glitches. So we had to do a lot of post production stuff.

William's piece was even recorded twice during the Festival 'cause that was the opening night and we had all sorts of sound problems. So Steven Joerg suggested that we should do it and I said OK let's do it. I'm a can do person. If something should be done then let's do it. Let's not worry about the fact that it's a gigantic pain in the ass and let's just do it. But because you're just putting together a second recording at the last minute that's not perfect either. But it was good and between the two, the recordings are going to be great.

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