Sonny Rollins Elected as Member of American Academy of Arts & Sciences
This month's most welcome news has nothing to do with big bands but everything to do with artistry and excellence: saxophonist and jazz icon Sonny Rollins has been elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. The Academy, a center for independent policy research (I don't quite understand what that has to do with jazz, but so be it), is among the country's oldest and most prestigious honorary societies and celebrates the 230th anniversary of its founding in 2010.
Other new members in the humanities and arts include Francis Ford Coppola, Denzel Washington, Suzanne Farrell and Thomas Hampson. The scholars, scientists, writers, artists and civic, philanthropic and corporate leaders among the 229 inductees include winners of the Nobel, Pulitzer and Shaw Prizes; MacArthur and Guggenheim fellows; and Oscar, Tony and Grammy Awards. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.
"It's a tremendous privilege and honor to be made a Fellow of the Academy," said Rollins. "Not only for me, but for what I representthe great American music called jazz." The new class will be inducted in a ceremony October 10 at the Academy's headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Roy Hargrove Big Band is among the performers June 1-13 at the DC Jazz Festival (formerly the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival) in America's capital city. Other luminaries scheduled to appear include pianists Kenny Barron and Cyrus Chestnut, trumpeter Claudio Roditi, saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera, singers Roberta Gambarini and Dianne Reeves, the Poncho Sanchez and Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Bands, violinist Regina Carter and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars in a special tribute to NEA Jazz Master James Moody.
A number of events are free to the public including two Jazz and Families Fun Days, a courtyard concert at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Jazz in the Garden at the National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Garden, and Jazz on the Potomac performances at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage with trumpeter Etienne Charles and the Berklee College World Jazz Nonet. For information, phone Kim Smith, 718-858-2557, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
We finally have a name for the Ken Poston / Los Angeles Jazz Institute event May 27-30 at the L.A. Airport Marriott Hotel"East Coast Sounds: Out of the Cool and Into the Hot." Sixteen concerts in all featuring Bob Brookmeyer, Johnny Mandel, Mose Allison, Terry Gibbs, Mundell Lowe, Teddy Charles, Harry Allen, Grant Stewart, Scott Robinson, Sam Most, Jeff Hamilton, Med Flory and SuperSax, Don Menza, the Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band, the Maynard Ferguson Alumni Band and the Cannonball / Coltrane Project. Plus the usual films, panel discussions and poolside concerts. For more information, phone 562-200-5477 or go online to www.lajazzinstitute.org
How's this for an idea whose time has come: a Jazz and Blues Camp for girls. No kidding! The camp is set for August 9-14 at the Jazzschool in Berkeley, California. Designed for instrumentalists and vocalists from grades 6-12, the camp includes classes and instruction in combos, blues and funk, Latin band, percussion, vocal group, big band, gospel choir, songwriting, theory and improvisation, listening and appreciation, and labs for horns, piano, guitar, bass and drums. Each musician also receives one private lesson on her chosen instrument or voice.
The Jazz and Blues Camp is directed by Ellen Seeling and Jean Fineberg, both members of the splendid Montclair Women's Big Band, and the faculty includes Fineberg and Mad Duran (saxophones, winds, ensembles), Seeling and Christy Dana (trumpet, ensembles, theory and improvisation, Jazz listening and appreciation), Mimi Fox (guitar, ensembles), Tammy Hall and Erika Oba (piano, keyboards, ensembles), Ruth Davies and Ariane Cap (acoustic and electric bass, ensembles), Kelly Fasman and Michaelle Goerlitz (drums, percussion, ensembles), Jessica Neighbor and Rhonda Benin (vocals, vocal ensembles, song writing). Most are members of the Montclair Women's Big Band.