Wait Till Next Year...

Jack Bowers By

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Things being as they are, I skipped this year’s conference of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) in New York City, and was later informed by my friend Jerry Swanberg, who was there, that I missed one of the best of these events ever, at least in terms of the number and quality of big bands that performed (which is why I go there in the first place).

Among the groups that Jerry singled out for special praise were the John Fedchock Big Band, Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge, the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, the BMI Workshop Big Band, the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, Japan’s Global Jazz Orchestra, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Bob Brookmeyer and his German-based New Art Jazz Orchestra, and the Lincoln Center Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra.

Topnotch college bands appearing at the conference included the Universities of Colorado, Miami and North Texas, the Juilliard School of Music and New York University Jazz ensembles, Cuesta College, the New England Conservatory, Florida A&M, the Manhattan School of Music, and all-star groups from community colleges and historically black colleges and universities. The high school bands, Jerry reports, were excellent, especially Thelma Yellin from Israel; the ESMI big band from Quebec, Canada; the North Sydney ensemble from Australia, and Thunderbird from Arizona.

Glancing at the program, I see that I also missed performances by the Heath Brothers with guest Clark Terry, the Dave Holland Quintet, Nicholas Payton, Paquito D’Rivera, Phil Woods / George Robert, the Lynne Arriale and Bill Mays trios, the Saxophone Summit (Joe Lovano, David Liebman, Michael Brecker), the Matt Wilson Quartet and many others. Oh, well, there’s always next year (I hope!). See you in Long Beach!

A Grammy for Gerald?
Composer / arranger / bandleader par excellence Gerald Wilson has been nominated for a Grammy award for his recent album, New York, New Sound, on Mack Avenue Records, the first such nomination for the five-year-old label. The winners will be announced on February 8.

Wilson’s album, which uses New York-area musicians instead of his usual West Coast ensemble, was nominated in the “Best Large Jazz Ensemble” category. Among those in the lineup are such well-known names as trumpeters Clark Terry and Jon Faddis, trombonists Benny Powell and Luis Bonilla, saxophonists Jimmy Heath and Frank Wess, drummer Lewis Nash and pianists Kenny Barron and Renee Rosnes.

The eighty-five-year-old Wilson’s honors include five previous Grammy nominations, the Paul Robeson Award, the NEA American Jazz Masters fellowship, American Jazz Awards in 1997 for Best Arranger / Best Big Band, and top honors for big band, composing and arranging in Down Beat magazine’s annual critics’ poll. In 1996, Wilson’s life work was archived by the Library of Congress, and most recently, he was elected to the American Jazz Hall of Fame. That’s quite an inventory of awards, every one of them well-deserved.

That’s it for now. Until next time, keep swingin’!

NEW & NOTEWORTHY: February 2004
(Among the best of the recent big–band releases on Compact Disc)

  1. Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, XXL (Silverline)
  2. Blue Wisp Big Band, A Night at the Wisp (Sea Breeze)
  3. Rob Stoneback Big Band, Mad to the Bone (Stonequake)
  4. Swiss Jazz School Orchestra, Shades of Time (TCB)
  5. Alan Baylock Jazz Orchestra, Two Seconds to Midnight (Sea Breeze)
  6. Cedar Avenue Big Band, Land of 10,000 Licks (CABB)
  7. Phil Kelly & the NW Prevailing Winds, Convergence Zone (Origin)
  8. Mark Masters Jazz Ensemble, The Clifford Brown Project (Capri)
  9. Rob McConnell / SWR Big Band, So Very Rob (faszination nusik)
  10. Summit Jazz Orchestra / Clark Terry, Clark (Edition Collage)

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