[jja-announce] yesterday's Jazz Awards

Jazzmandel at aol.com Jazzmandel at aol.com
Wed Jun 15 12:21:59 EDT 2005

Hi JJA members -- 

Yesterday's Jazz Awards, the 9th annual Jazz Journalists Association 
celebration of excellence in jazz, jazz journalism and jazz advocacy, altruism and 
activism, was another smashing success, if I say so myself.

B. B. King's Blues Club was filled with musicians, JJA members and 
colleagues, record industry execs, jazz educators, aficionado-listeners, presenters from 
Festival Productions, the Vision Festival and Jazz at Lincoln Center, and our 
sponsors including the movers and shakers of BETJazz, HIP Health Plan of New 
York, Anheuser-Busch, ASCAP, WBGO and Madison Square Garden. Robert Wisdom, our 
host, was a cool and calm presence, low-keyed while guiding several dozen 
performers, winners and presenters through their stage paces. ]

Nnenna Freelon sang a swinging short set including Billie Holiday's "Now, 
Baby or Never," Jack DeJohnette played a dynamic and coloristic solo, Sy 
Johnson's Octet performing his specially commissioned 75th Birthday Suite was by turns 
sweet, sophisticated, and powerful, like the man himself. ASCAP Young Jazz 
Composer Competition winner Maurice Brown, an exuberant trumpeter, brought the 
Awards to order with a bugle call in traditional, New Orleans' style and 
Chicago renditions (his partner, Texas tenor saxist Quamon Fowler co-led their 
quintet as the Music Room filled, while JJA photographer Gene Martin gathered all 
the nominees, journalists and musicians in Lucille's for our annual group 
photo. ASCAP tenor saxist Bob Reynolds' Quartet had the unenviable job of ending 
the entire show -- but attendees lingered to listen to the band, and to 
schmooze, and had to be hearded out so that the 8 p.m. show at B.B.'s could set up. 

The proceedings moved too fast for me to fix on many of the special moments, 
but here are a few that I caught: Clark Terry's genuine gratitude for his 
unexpected win as trumpeter of the year, which he credited to Jeff Lindberg's 
direction of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra that backed him on recording his version 
of Gil Evans' classic arrangements of Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess." Cecil 
Taylor's elegant words, upon receiving the first HIP-JJA Lifetime Achievement Award 
for Hank Jones -- who had been refused help by a car service driver in getting 
his suitcase into his limo trunk, and so did not come down from Hartwick, NY 
to the Awards; Cecil spoke of his admiration for Hank, and also of his love of 
Elvin Jones, with whom he had created astounding duets, and the early 
encouragement he had enjoyed from Thad Jones, as well. The pride of repeat winners 
such as Roy Haynes, Andy Bey and Frank Wess, and the pleasure of first-time 
winner Luciana Souza in being welcomed to the Jazz Awards. Guest presenter Rupert 
Holmes' spot-on introduction of a historic Jazz Awards event -- and Maria 
Schneider's beatific smile upon sweeping the Awards with wins for arranging, 
composing, big band and record of the year. 

There were many equally exciting incidents, happening simultaneously all over 
the room -- including the alcove where the Silent Photo Auction, our best 
yet, was run by Enid Farber, R. Andrew Lepley and Lois Mirviss. Wendy Oxenhorn of 
the Jazz Foundation of America of course spoke movingly about the JFA's 
Musicians Emergency Fund in her introduction of A Team Awards winners Douglas 
Duchak (of Englewood Hospital) and Lauren Roberts, JFA administrative director who 
is departing for law school; the JJA needs a spokesman like Wendy to trumpet 
our mission re promoting jazz journalism through education initiatives, 
including but not limited to the Clarence Atkins Fellowships (two of our fellows, 
Michele Drayton of Tampa, Fla. and Laylah Amatullah Barrayn of Brooklyn, NY were 
in attendance; so was VP Willard Jenkins, who filled in admirably presenting 
Awards to winners who couldn't attend -- Michael Dorf, who started the Jazz 
Awards with the JJA in '97, did this too, an almost thankless task (but 
thanks!)). Paxton Baker, the JJA's main man at BETJazz, graciously gave the Award for 
Presenter of the Year twice -- once when scheduled, and again when the winner, 
Jazz at Lincoln Center's Todd Barkan arrived in the house. This will make for 
much better television, when the Awards show highlights are broadcast by BETJazz 
in early autumn 05 (and thanks to Waymer Johnson, director, Rocky Mabrey, and 
the entire crew videtotaping this event, as well as B.B. King's efficient 

Other A Team Awards recipients: Olga Garay accepting for the Doris Duke 
Charitable Foundation didn't stop beaming, James Newcomb of The Boeing Company 
explained succinctly the visionary corporate philanthropy of the Chicago Jazz 
Partnership, podiatrist and diabetes specialist Dr. Marc Brenner 
(Icare4YourFeet at aol.com) was visibly honored, as were A.B. Spellman, poet-author-recently 
retired NEA Deputy Chairman, and the Heath Brothers, Jimmy and Tootie and Percy 
(posthumously, sad to say) and Martin Mueller, the JJA's good friend at the New 
School Jazz Program.

Oh yeah -- the Awards for Jazz Journalism: George Avakian, venerable jazz 
producer and the man who invented the liner note, the record album and the 
reissue, announced Website of the Year (AllAboutJazz.com) and Periodical of the Year 
(Jazz Times), as well as Label of the Year (Palmetto). Ira Gitler, 
co-author/editor of the Encyclopedia of Jazz, bestowed the Award for Book of the Year 
upon his good friend Dan Morgenstern. Dan turned around and presented the Award 
for best Newspaper, Magazine and Online Feature writing to the New York Times' 
Ben Ratliff. Gary Giddins nicely introduced all the finalists for Lifetime 
Achievement in Jazz Journalism, saying that each of the four -- Bob Blumenthal, 
Francis Davis, Mike Zwerin, and me -- were bound to get the Award at some 
point, it was just a question of the order in which we received it. Bob Blumenthal 
was obviously thrilled to be this year's recipient. 

I'm sure there was more, and as the moments crystalize, I'll try to post them 
as comments addending to this post, at Jazzhouse.org. 'Til then, thanks to 
all the Jazz Awards committee members, to those of you who came to the event and 
made it so much fun, and to all the non-JJA members who contributed in every 
which way. We'll do this again -- looking forward to the tenth anniversary -- 
so save a date in early/mid June, 2006 for the next Jazz Awards. 

best to all -- Howard Mandel

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