Jazz Returns to Network Television
Just back from a brief vacation in IL, looking forward to Ken Poston's Neophonic Impressions event May 26-29 at the Sheraton LAX Four Points Hotel in Los Angeles, and gearing up for a great summer of Jazz right here in Albuquerque.
Perhaps the biggest news this month concerns the launch on June 16 of the first Jazz series on network television in forty years, Legends of Jazz, hosted by pianist and three-time Grammy Award winner Ramsey Lewis on PBS. The first program, an hour-long special, will showcase winners of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Masters award. Thirteen weekly thirty-minute programs will begin next fall, produced in state-of-the-art HDTV and Dolby surround sound. The series will combine live performances, interviews and archival material to "provide a fascinating and entertaining first-hand account of some of the most memorable moments in Jazz, according to a PBS press release.
The hour-long special, sponsored by Verizon and NEA, spotlights five recipients of the NEA Jazz Masters award: vocalist Nancy Wilson, saxophonist James Moody, vocalist Jon Hendricks, Latin Jazz artist Paquito D'Rivera and entrepreneur George Wein, founder of the Newport Jazz Festival. Teen vocalist Renee Olstead, who made her major label debut last year, appears as a special guest.
Lewis, long a mainstay on the Chicago Jazz scene, hosts a syndicated weekly radio program, Legends of Jazz, that serves as a natural springboard for the television series, to be co-produced by LRSmedia and WTTW-TV's National Productions, as is Legends. "Since 1982, the NEA Jazz Masters program has honored many Jazz greats, says NEA chairman Dana Gioia. "We are delighted that this series, which will reach millions of viewers across the country, will begin with a tribute to the music's true legends.
Well, some of them, anyway. I hope it's not too long before big bands are given their due . . . but I'm not holding my breath.
Also on the calendar . . .
Summer Jazz Workshops 2005 will be held June 13-July 15 at the University of North Texas in Denton. Included are workshops for trumpet / trombone, Jazz combo, vocal Jazz and double bass. The trumpet / trombone workshop (June 13-18) is co-directed by trumpeter Mike Steinel and trombonist Tony Baker, the double bass workshop (June 13-17) by bassist Lynn Seaton. The vocal Jazz workshop (June 26-July 1) has a faculty that includes Paris Rutherford, Michele Weir, Jennifer Barnes, Rosana Eckert, Kerry Marsh, Bruce Wermuth and Gary Eckert, while the Jazz combo workshop (July 10-15) is presided over by Steinel; Baker; Seaton; saxophonists Jim Riggs, Will Campbell and John Murphy; pianists Dan Haerle and Stefan Karlsson; guitarists Fred Hamilton and Joe Lee; drummer Ed Soph and Jazz historian Bob Morgan. For information about any or all of the workshops, visit the Jazz Studies website, www.music.unt.edu/jazz, e-mail email@example.com or phone 940-565-3743.
The Woody Herman and Count Basie Orchestras and Mingus Big Band are among the headliners at the annual Wigan Jazz Festival to be held July 9-16. Others appearing include the Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra and Wigan Jazz Club Big Band, the Elmhurst College (IL) Big Band, East Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra, the Joey DeFrancesco Trio, Manhattan Transfer, Sweden's Lasse Lindgren with Sounds 2000, multi-instrumentalist James Morrison, Herb Geller with the Dave Newton Trio, lunchtime performances by the Dylan Howe Quintet and trios led by Alan Barnes, Dave O'Higgins, Enrico Tomaso and Duncan Lamont, and dinner Jazz by vocalists Lee Gibson, Paul Bentley, Kelly Dixon and Sarah Bennett plus the Sally Doherty Trio, the Trevor Owen and Steve Oakes Quartets, and the Kings Cross Hot Club. Those who've been to Wigan once mark it on their calendars each year as a "must-see event. If you plan to be anywhere near the Midlands in July, Wigan is definitely the place to be.
Closer to Home . . .
The University of New Mexico held a two-day Jazz Festival on April 1-2, two weeks before Flutology (Frank Wess, Holly Hofmann, Ali Ryerson) came to town for a one-night tribute to Herbie Mann and fund-raiser for the New Mexico Jazz Workshop.