The IAJE's Collapse: What Happened?
The truth is, we don't really know. What we do know is that in April, the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and will be turned over to a trustee, its assets parceled out to creditors. This deals a body blow not only to Jazz educators in this country but around the world, not to mention musicians, others in the music business and plain fans like me who derived pleasure from attending the annual IAJE conventions, even though I'd not been to one for four years.
At least a part of the problem, we've learned, was an ill-advised return to Toronto in January, where attendance was barely above half the average for conferences in New York City and other venues. Faced with a large cash shortage, the IAJE sent a last-ditch fund-raising letter to its members but brought in only about $12,000, which hardly made a dent in liabilities estimated at more than $1 million. Some are now saying that the IAJE, which held its first conference in 1973, overreached itself, especially with a Campaign for Jazz program that never got off the ground.
In a letter to the membership, IAJE President Chuck Owen wrote in part:
"In the next few days, a Kansas bankruptcy court will appoint a trustee to oversee all ongoing aspects of the association. This includes the ability to examine IAJE's financial records and mount an independent inquiry into the causes of its financial downfall as well as disposing of the remaining assets of the association with proceeds distributed to creditors in accordance with Kansas and Federal law. The board will no longer be involved in operation of the organization and will at some point resign. IAJE as it presently stands will no longer exist."
The only ray of hope can be found in the phrase "as it presently stands." In other words, the formation of another group to replace IAJE, even though unlikely, at least in the short run, is not entirely out of the question. Remember that until forty years ago there was no IAJE, which grew out of the National Association of Jazz Educators (NAJE). After lamenting its demise, it behooves members of the jazz community to determine what went wrong, pick up the pieces and move forward. Whatever its name or makeup, an organization such as IAJE is needed. Putting Humpty Dumpty together again won't be easy, but should prove well worth the effort.
Out and About . . .
As there wasn't much jazz locally in April, Betty and I turned our attention elsewhere, starting April 6 with a splendid touring production of the Broadway musical "Annie" at UNM's Popejoy Hall. We returned to Popejoy in mid-month for a rollicking version of Gilbert & Sullivan's "H.M.S. Pinafore," and between them attended a zarzuela (Spanish operetta) at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, another of Albuquerque's treasures. "La Corte de Faraon" (The Court of the Pharaoh), set in Egypt, deals with the amorous attentions of the queen, Reina, and Lotha, a lovely virgin from Thebes, toward a captive slave from Israel, Casto Jose (Chaste Joseph, the same Joseph of the Coat of Many Colors). Lotha has been wed to the war hero Putifar, who is unable to perform his husbandly duties owing to a most unfortunate albeit well-directed wound suffered in battle. The operetta was well-staged and well-sung, making for an enjoyable evening. We'll return there on May 3 for a Cinco de Mayo celebration featuring the wonderful tenor voice of Armando Mora, one of our favorites.
Also in April, we attended an Opera Southwest production of Puccini's "Tosca" and an outstanding local production of Shakespeare's "King Lear," enlivened by Paul Ford's bravura performance as Lear and Alan Ware as his Fool. And speaking of bravura turns, they don't get much better than those of Nathalie Dessay and Juan Diego Florez in Donizetti's "Daughter of the Regiment," which we saw on April 26 as a Metropolitan Opera simulcast at a local movie theatre. Not only does Dessay have a marvelous soprano voice, she's a remarkably talented comedienne who reminded me of such great ones as Lucille Ball or Carol Burnett, while Florez, handsome and dashing, brought the audience to its feet with a series of breathtaking arias in the role that made another tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, a star.
It's back to jazz on May 1 with a concert at the Outpost Performance Space by the Bobby Shew/Doug Lawrence Quintet backed by pianist Bob Fox, bassist Michael Olivola and drummer John Trentacosta. On May 4, we'll be at Popejoy Hall again for "I Love a Piano," based on the music of Irving Berlin, and on May 21 I'm off to Los Angeles for the L.A. Jazz Institute's four-day extravaganza, "The Stage Door Swings." Full report to follow in June. The Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra kicks off the annual Jazz Under the Stars series May 31 at the Albuquerque Museum of Art, but Betty and I will be in California that weekend to help her sister June celebrate her fiftieth wedding anniversary.
Also in the Pipeline . . .