JAZZ JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES 2019 AWARDS NOMINEES
NEW YORK CITY — Finalists for the 24th annual Jazz Awards presented by the Jazz Journalists Association have been announced at www.JJAJazzAwards.org, showing the generational continuity and diversity of talent making music and creating media about today. Elder and younger musicians, first-time nominees and veterans with career-capping works, women in the vanguard as composers, bandleaders and instrumentalists — some 400 nominees in 39 categories of excellence in jazz music and jazz journalism demonstrate the strength of a creative community.
See the entire list of nominees here: https://www.jjajazzawards.org/p/2019-nominees.html The JJA also has announced 22 Jazz Heroes, being celebrated by local jazz fans in 20 US cities. See Jazz heroes here: https://www.jjajazzawards.org/p/2019-jazz-heroes.html
Nominees are chosen by the votes of the professional journalist members of the Jazz Journalists Association, based on work done in calendar year 2018 (with the exception of Lifetime Achievement Awards categories).
Among Jazz Award ballot highlights: Three unique pianists — Chick Corea (77), Ahmad Jamal (88) and Harold Mabern (83) — as well as bassist Ron Carter (81) and saxophonist Pharoah Sanders (78) — are the Lifetime Achievement in Jazz nominees. All are highly acclaimed, much recorded, widely traveled innovators, composers, improvisers and ensemble leaders, whose accomplishments define six decades’ of jazz-in-development and fruition.
Jazz Musician of the Year nominees represent a different demographic. Although 85-year-old saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter is nominated, so are electric guitarist Mary Halvorson (39),bassist-bandleader-broadcaster Christian McBride (46) and vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant (29), requiring JJA’s member voters to compare apples to oranges in determining the single most representative musician of calendar year 2018.
That same challenge confronts the JJA’s professional members as they vote in journalism categories, with nominees for Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism including Nate Chinen, WBGO director of editorial content and former New York Times critic; Eugene Holley, Jr., a much-published freelancer; Dan Ouellette, an author, columnist and contributor to DownBeat, among other publications; Ben Ratliffe, author and former New York Times critic, and John Szwed, biographer of Sun Ra, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday and Alan Lomax as well as contributor to the Village Voice and emeritus professor at Columbia and Yale universities.
Winners of the 2019 JJA Jazz Awards in all categories, determined by second-round voting by the JJA’s professional journalist members, will be announced at jjajazzawards.orgon May 1, with Awards presentations to be made at recipients’ performances throughout the summer. For further information about the JJA Jazz Awards or the JJA itself, email email@example.com If you are a 2019 Nominee, and would like a “badge” to display on your website, click here
(Thursday, February 14th, 2019 through Sunday, February 17th, 2019)
Newport Beach Jazz Party welcomes Sue and Paul Lowden, who have now taken the reins of running the NBJP each February. Thanks also to their son Chris and his team for helping to coordinate the many jazz artists performing at this iconic yearly event. John McClure and Joe Rothman have done a tremendous job these many years. The new musical director is well-known Ken Peplowski, who will also participate in some of the concerts. Joe Rothman and John McClure will still be taking care of the Sunset Jazz at Newport, which runs eleven weeks during the summer.
I attended the Saturday, February 16th event at Newport Beach’s Marriott for a good part of the day. Beginning this beautiful day , was the jazz brunch which included, not only a great breakfast spread, but the fourth year celebrating a tribute to David L. Abell, now called Piano Rama. Abell had an excellent piano store that many, many pianists and also composers and educators visited regularly over earlier years. Abell helped many musicians generally with things that they needed. Pianist and regular participant, Shelly Berg, hosted the event. Mike Wofford, Emmet Cohen, Larry Fuller, Bill Cunliffe and Tamir Hendelman were part of the one and one half hour show. They shared jazz tunes and American Popular Songbook favorites, also performing some selections on two pianos that they all shared. It was a marvelous showing of how much music of great content can be made to shine impressively.
Some of the song numbers jointly performed as a duo were, Shelly Berg with Emmet Cohen, “It’s All Right With Me” (Cole Porter), Tamir Hendelman with Emmet Cohen, “My Foolish Heart” (Victor Young/Ned Washington), Mike Wofford with Tamir Hendelman, “Yesterdays” (Jerome Kern), Larry Fuller with Mike Wofford, “Gone with The Wind” (Allie Wrubel) and Bill Cunliffe with Larry Fuller, “The Days of Wine and Roses” (Henry Mancini) to name several. All were outstanding performances. There were other singular choices. One that stood out to me was, Wofford playing “Lucky to Be Me” and “I Am Just a Lucky So and So.” and also Wofford again, playing “Easy Living.” The tribute concluded with all six esteemed pianists taking turns on both pianos playing Charlie Parker’s “Au Privave” with lots of applause and a standing ovation from the entire audience.
The four afternoon pool concerts for this day had to be moved into the main concert ballroom because of the colder weather. Up first was the Wycliffe Gordon, Tom Scott Quintet with pianist, Tom Ranier, bassist Mike Gurrola and drummer Butch Miles. This group played very well and performed several tunes in the hour they were allotted: “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t got that Swing” began with excellent solos, especially from Gurrola and Miles drumming. A favorite for everybody was “Stars Fell on Alabama.”
All the pool concerts were at one hour each. The Peak Experience always puts on an impressive show. They had Barbara Morrison as special guest. “Blues Walk” was their first number, giving way for Carl Saunders fine trumpet solo. Jazz standard, “Ceora” made room for pianist Ron Kobayashi to fill in the tune in expert fashion. Morrison added to their set with the great, “I Love Being Here with You” and “Lullaby of Birdland.” Much applause was given during all these afternoon concerts.
One of my personal favorites was seeing and hearing Holly Hofmann, Mike Wofford Quartet with Mike Gurrola (b) and drummer Kendall Kay. Holly and her husband Mike Wofford always put on the best performances. Beginning with “Just in Time,” wowed the audience. Hofmann plays two different flutes, a regular C flute and a bigger G alto flute making lower bass notes possible. A highlight was “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To.” She referred this song to husband Mike Wofford. Hofmann called up two surprise guests, tenor saxophonist, Harry Allen and trumpeter, Terell Stafford for “Exactly Like You,” and “Cousins,” a bluesy number made to shine by all.
The Chuck Redd, Butch Miles Sextet played, ending the late afternoon performances. Their sextet included Ron Stout (trpt), Scott Hamilton (t/s ), Tamir Hendelman (p) and John Clayton (b). They opened with the classic “Laura,” a gem of a song to always play with very good solos by Hamilton, Stout, Hendelman and Clayton. This number ended up with a superb jazzy riff. “Strike up the Band” continued. This song is also a classic. Same round for the sextet members gave contributing solos with rounds of gracious applause. “All or Nothing at All” continued. Chuck Redd played his vibraphone backed by everyone’s fine playing. Closing their set was a tune, named “Corner Pocket,” by Count Basie. This was a standout number and featured tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton. A standing ovation was given for all these well-deserved stellar musicians.
The great tenor saxophonist Houston Person’s Quartet began the evening’s musical activities with Emmet Cohen’s trio with bassist Russell Hall and drummer Kyle Poole rounding out the quartet.
Joining the Person quartet was special guest trumpeter James Suggs. The quartet only opened with a blues and then the pretty tune, “All My Tomorrows.” Trumpeter, Suggs added in with the quartet with “When I Fall in Love,” and also making a solo with the group on “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Bassist Hall played a bigger bass solo with the quintet in “Perdido.” The audience loved this quartet plus one.
Vocalist great, Clint Holmes was backed by some very special musicians for the nearly one hour show. Special guest pianist Shelly Berg, vibraphonist Christian Tamburr, bassist Katie Thrioux, drummer Gregg Field and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval made this show quite amazing. Holmes sang his whole show, with the band backing him, as a serenade to a woman. He has the charisma and delivery to make his tunes very appealing to women listening to him. His show was excellent and, of course, the special musicians of the band made it even better. His songs were: “I’ve Got a Woman,” “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and “Nature Boy.” He talked about that this was 100 years of Nat King Cole’s birthday. Trumpeter great, Arturo Sandoval was featured in Clint singing “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To.” The quintet kept the music going with another superb standard, “My Foolish Heart,” and Holmes delivered a splendid version of this wonderful tune. The audience liked Clint Holmes presentation, along with this exceptional band, very well and gave him a standing ovation.
The very last mid-evening presentation was a tribute to Charlie Bird with strings and also Eddie Sauter and Stan Getz’s “Focus,” a string ensemble plus rhythm section with guest soloists Terell Stafford, Harry Allen, Holly Hofmann, Tom Scott, Ken Peplowski, Tom Ranier, Joe LaBarbera and Chuck Berghofer. This was a very productive show and lasted a little over one and one half hours with a very interested and appreciative audience.
There were many things to see and hear over this four day yearly jazz celebration. Please check out the new concerts listings for Sunset Jazz at Newport coming out in April, 2019, www.sunsetjazzatnewport.com.
Glenn A. Mitchell
On Saturday, February, 9, 2019, Orange County Musicians’ Local 7 hosted a beautiful jazz concert bringing master guitarist Ron Eschete’s Trio for a benefit performance to support a Musicians in Need Fund Raiser. There were at least fifty members and also jazz fans who showed up for this stellar performance.
Eschete brought superb bassist Bruce Lett and excellent drummer Kendall Kay on board for this show. This concert was also an extension of O.C. Jazz Bash Series.
Opening for the evening, was the Fullerton College Quartet performing several numbers before the start of the Eschete Trio. The group consisted of Oscar Rodriguez (guitar), Nico Vasquez (drums), Steven Wood, (saxophones) and Cole Sainburg (bass). This quartet gave a lively performance of all the jazz that they played. Their tunes were: “On Green Dolphin Street,” “Like Someone in Love,” and “Yes and No” by Wayne Shorter. These young players received a lot of applause for not only their good solos but for their cohesive playing as well.
Several executive board members of Local 7 were on hand to welcome many of those who attended. During the middle break of the Eschete performance, Vice President, Edmund Velasco, announced that a special day of this date would be remembered as Ron Eschete Day.
Terence M. Love, former longtime owner of Steamers Jazz Club, hosted and presented the Eschete Trio. Ron Eschete and Terence have been friends for a number of years. Terence lauded Eschete and his spectacular playing and mentioned the many amount of times he has performed at Steamers in previous years.
Ron Eschete started performing very early on guitar before even finishing high school. He had an early break working with singer Buddy Greco in Las Vegas. He moved to Los Angeles, CA and worked with Gene Harris and also Dave Pike and continued building his career upwards all the way from 1970 to present. He has played with Ray Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson and Diana Krall to name a few of many.
For those of you who have never heard Ron Eschete, you will amazingly surprised. Eschete has his own very dignified sound. No one plays the guitar like Ron Eschete!
The Eschete trio started with a good swing number, “Lookin’ For The Back Door,” written by amazing composer, Alf Clausen. This tune was written originally for big band in swing format. Eschete reduced it down to play for his trio. Alf Clausen with (30) Emmy nominations has received more nominations than any other musician for his longtime movie and television scores. The trio made this tune move excitingly. The balance between Eschete guitar, Lett’s bass and Kay’s drumming was excellent. A pretty ballad followed, “Only Trust Your Heart.” Lett made a distinguished bass solo for this gem. Late, great pianist, Jimmy Rowles, created a superb classic called, “The Peacocks.” This tune seems never to be played enough and has a memorable melody that easily stands out. The audience gave some great appreciative applause for this classic.
Eschete took a break from his trio and played a solo medley of four songs, “Goodbye” (Gordon Jenkins), “This is all I Ask” (also Gordon Jenkins), “A Face Like Yours” (Victor Feldman) and “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good” (Duke Ellington).
The Eschete trio resumed their show with a Blossum Dearie tune, “Sweet Georgia Fame.” Excellent trio work here again with great solos from Lett and Kay.
Finishing tunes for this longer one set show were: “Fungii Mama” (Blue Mitchell), with Kay playing a vibrant drum solo and doing exceptional cymbal work. Continuing with Herbie Hancock’s “Driftin’,” Chick Corea’s “Humpty Dumpy,” and “You Make Me Feel So Young,” (by Josef Myrow, arr. by Gene Harris).
This concert was so good and the audience gave them all a standing ovation! It would be great, in my opinion, to see this same trio of outstanding musicians recorded in a future CD sometime coming soon.
Please be sure to visit Ron Eschete’s website for much of his current musical activities and gigs: www.roneschete.com .
Glenn A. Mitchell
Vocalist and friend, Peggie Perkins sent me a notice recently on FACEBOOK re: a regular jazz music event every Wednesday, 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. The Every Wednesday Big Band is made up of mostly professional senior musicians. Peggie Perkins sings and also emcees the activity. This is a great gig for seniors, of which we are many! This senior center is very big and has a lot of room for seniors and dancing as well. It is also very well attended.
This Seniors (19) piece big band is made up of four trumpets, Terry Baylor, Tom Cunningham, Johnny Kleker and George Lucas. Trombones include Bob Adams, Mike Henshall, Darrel Anderson and Don McGurn. Saxes include Alden Waldo, Rob Kilgore, Adrian Tapia, Paul Delgado and Jim Travers. The Rhythm section has John Hoehn (piano), Pete Ritter (guitar), Pat Morvan (bass) and Dick Castanos (percussion). Vocalist/Emcee is Peggie Perkins. Today, John “Chris” Christensen leads the band and is their fine drummer as well. Other weeks, a selected few musicians in the band, take turns leading this superb organization.
Their two sets included a wide variety of music that everyone enjoys. “A Pretty Girl is like a Melody” (moderate swing) and “Biscuits ‘n Honey” (latin rock) started the band’s afternoon. Perkins sang “I’ve Got the World on a String” and “Could I Have this Dance the Rest of my Life.” These were good picks that the audience liked a lot. Her voice accentuates the song lyrics very well. Both songs were good and fine arrangements for this big band. A Count Basie number, “Straight Ahead” moved ahead to a fast swing number. A longtime Latin classic, “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” livened up the dance floor in cha-cha mode. Peggie Perkins sang another favorite, “Hey Mambo, Italiano.” Before ending the first set, the band performed a Latin Fantasy, a medley, (beguine/samba) with two very recognizable tunes that I did not get the name of, bringing just about everybody to the dance floor. Many members of the band, especially the horn sections took and gave many excellent solos during all of the afternoon.
Set Two was musically exciting, starting with “Little Brown Jug,” a famous number from the earlier big band era, (Glenn Miller), (medium swing). Peggie Perkins sang two more classic numbers, “Makin’ Whoopee” and “The Nearness of You.” Her song style fits comfortably with this big band and delights the entire audience. Continuing with other numbers, the set
included “Margie” (moderate swing), “Blue Tango,” “Brasilla” (bossa nova/samba), a definite highlight of the afternoon. Peggie sang a fine version of “Our Love is Here to Stay,” the band supporting her excellently. Closing the segment for the afternoon were: “Spanish Eyes,” “Moon River,” and “Moments to Remember” (rock ballad).
This big band is well worth seeing and hearing and will be a regular attraction for a good long time at Eldorado Park Senior Center, 2800 N. Studebaker Road, Long Beach, CA 90815, (562) 570-3225.
Glenn A. Mitchell