2005 Jazz Journalists Awards at B.B. King's - A Hot and Successful Night
While Lonnie Smith waited three years to win, one musician won three years in a row! When Andy Bey took best male jazz singer, he said, "Ive gotten this award three years in a row, and I think the Jazz Journalists Association is the greatest group for the work that they doand I thank them for honoring me. I also have to thank Herb Jorgan, Geri Allen, Frank Wess and Cornelia Pitts. This award is for them, too, for working with me."
Getting to the sort of theme of the nightpersistence in jazzBey told the audience to keep enjoying this industry, even thought it is a business: "If you can, just hang in the business. the setbacks mke you keep going.
"Everybody is a winner if you can keep going and hang in there."
Even Dan Morgenstern, director of the Institute of Jazz at Rutgers University, was able to be handed a statue by Ira Gitler. Said Morgenstern, "Thank you Ira. Maybe it's because I've been around so long, that eventually you'd be able to give me something." They smiled together happily on stage.
And the New York night went on, with many more winners. Yvonne Ervin, on the board of the JJA and a Hot House writer, said, "I really think the jazz awards went smoothly. They went off really well. I love being in New York City. The awards ceremony was fabulous."
Bob Cunningham, bassist, said he was "just delighted to see the Heath Brothers get an award."
Fran McIntyre, vocalist and television producer, says the JJA Awards are needed to recognize artists and "to give them praise for their accomplishments. I am glad I am a member; it makes me feel like we are really doing something worthwhile. Keep doing it JJAand congratulations to the winners."
Howard Mandel, president of the JJA and longtime jazz journalist, proudly gave the flautist-of-the-year award to Frank Wess. "I'm such an amateur flutist, but I'm so glad to give Frank this award." Wess then said short and sweetly, "I thank all the jazz journalists and flutists who help me have a valid voice in jazz."
Mandell brought author Michelle Mercer to the stage (Footprints, the Wayne Shorter book) to announce the awards in the saxophone categories. Judy Silvano accepted for her husband Joe Lovano, tenor saxophonist, who was away in California for a Sax Summit. "He's a very hard-working musician; I know that for sure. Thanks for the recognition."
Phil Woods won for alto; Wayne Shorter for soprano saxophone. Neither were present. "If Wayne were here, he'd say something like 'I don't really play the soprano saxophone,' but he'll definitely put the award statue in a place of honor with the others...in his home," said his biographer. When it came time for the baritone sax award, the author exclaimed, "And she's even here!"
Claire Daly, the winner, was very happy to be voted the baritone saxophonist of the year. "A blessing for one is a blessing for another," she said. "I have to think of the other baritone saxophonists. I've been to these JJA Awards events a number of times and I'm just so happy to be a part of our community."
Later at the bar, where a lot of networking was happening, Daly said, "It was so shocking to me to win: I was shaking. I don't even know what I said." Writer Bill Milkowski kissed herand others did, too, as she was holding her familiar video camera (she loves documenting jazz).
Tom Staudt, a journalist for the New York Times and Downbeat, called the Jazz Awards a "perfect place" for people to meet. "This is a great place for people to come and meet friends. I'm big into friendship." He shook hands with Fred Hersch, who walked by. Voicist Barbara Sfraga would agree, saying, "It was fun. I got to see a lot of old friendsand make some new ones, too, tonight!"
At that point, Don Byron was announced as the clarinet winner. He was not present, but they said he was going to be working at the Vanguard. Then John Abbott (for a picture of Henry Grimes) took best photo of the year, saying, "As long as I can keep seeing, I'll keep taking photographs. This is just a great group." Jack Vartoovian took photographer of the year.
Other winnners this year were Regina Carter for strings, Jim Hall for guitar and Stefan Harris for vibes. Said Harris, "This award really means a lot to me. I'm working hard." Carter wasn't there and Hall was recording at the New School.
Michael Dorf joked on stage: "It was really cool tonight to see George Wein without a tie. I think we've come a long way in jazz!" Everyone laughed. Dorf said he felt enthusiastic and proud to participate "in this well-organized event."
And what a great night it was with a lot of good vibes and good-natured ribbing. Ira Gitler, at one point, called the night "antiseptic," but was thrilled to later intoduce his friend Dan Morgenstern, who won an award for his huge achievements in jazz.