Jazz Condition -- UPI Arts & Entertainment

By KEN FRANCKLING, United Press International  |  Dec. 17, 2002 at 6:15 PM
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The world of jazz in 2002 was one of advancements, losses and puzzles.

The finest trend was the stronger impact that Latin music, in many forms, is making in jazz beyond the past's mere stylistic toehold. Even the Smithsonian Institution took notice of the continuing blossoming of jazz enclave.

While Latin rhythms can be traced back to WC. Handy's composition "St. Louis Blues" and were known to influence the early 20th century New Orleans music of Jelly Roll Morton, they are flourishing today in many jazz bands and contexts. Washington, D.C.'s Smithsonian Institution opened a traveling multimedia exhibition, "Latin Jazz: La Combinacion Perfecta," which opened in the nation's capital in October and will tour 10 American cities by 2006.

There were also less encouraging developments. Top-flight artists, from Wynton Marsalis to James Carter and Cyrus Chestnut, found themselves without label deals -- major or minor -- as several of the majors dropped their jazz divisions altogether or shifted their focus to the more lucrative world of reissuing historical material.

One such label, Columbia/Legacy, produced some stunning reissues but also took honors as producing the most puzzling reissue -- "The Herbie Hancock Box." The music is wonderful, but it took more than five minutes to open the attractive and futuristic but space-wasting acrylic cube housing it.

Others were seeking their own answer to Verve's success with the crossover appeal of sultry singer-pianist Diana Krall on its Impulse! imprint. Blue Note has succeeded with huge sales of Norah Jones's rookie effort, a commercial success yet not a jazz project by any stretch of the imagination. N-Coded Music has done well with singer Jane Monheit's first pair of recordings.

There was a lot going on in the jazz world of note in 2002.

PUSHING THE ENVELOPE: Trumpeter Roy Hargrove unveiled a new funk-based unit, RH Factor, while saxophonist Joshua Redman teamed with keyboardist Sam Yahel and drummer Brian Blade on a new groove-oriented project that evolved into Redman's new Elastic Band. Guitarist John Scofield, saxophonist Joe Lovano, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Al Foster formed a new collaborative, ScoLoHoFo, to stretch their own sometimes daring sounds.

BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE: the International Association for Jazz Education held its 29th Annual Conference in Long Beach, Calif., last January. This "world's largest jazz gathering" of upwards of 7,000 educators, musicians, industry executives, exhibitors, media and jazz enthusiasts also was the setting for presentation of Jazz Masters Awards (worth $20,000 each) to tenor saxophonist Frank Foster, bassist Percy Heath and pianist McCoy Tyner from the National Endowment for the Arts.

MONK COMPETITION: Tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake won this year's Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, held in February in Washington, D.C. Blake, 31, a Vancouver, British Columbia, native and longtime New York player, won $20,000. John Ellis, who now works in guitarist Charlie Hunter's band, was second. Saxophonist Marcus Strickland, who has been working with drummer Roy Haynes, finished in third.

GRAMMY AWARDS: At the 44th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, bassist Marcus Miller took best contemporary jazz album honors for his project "M-squared" on Telarc Jazz. Dianne Reeves won best jazz vocal album honors for "The Calling," her newest Blue Note recording. Tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker won the Grammy for best jazz instrumental solo for his playing on "Chan's Song" on his "Nearness of You: The Ballad Book" on Verve.

Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins a 2002 Grammy for best jazz instrumental album for "This Is What I Do" on Milestone. The Bob Mintzer Big Band won the Grammy for best large jazz ensemble for "Homage to Count Basie," a DMP recording. Charlie Haden's "Nocturne" project on Verve was named best Latin jazz album. "Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday On Columbia 1933-1944" was voted best historical album by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

TWO STEPS BACK: New York's Carnegie Hall Jazz Band made its final appearance at that august performance space last spring. While it has made subsequent appearances at jazz festivals elsewhere under the direction of trumpeter Jon Faddis, a major resource was diminished. Not to mention the loss of a significant commission source for jazz composers and arrangers. It also left the Jazz at Lincoln Center, which has its own jazz orchestra and a separate Afro-Latin jazz orchestra, as the only institutional game in town.

ESSENTIALLY ELLINGTON: Seattle's Roosevelt High School took top honors May 11 at Jazz at Lincoln Center's 7th annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival. Garfield High School in Seattle finished second among the 15 invited bands.

APOLLO TOO: Stevie Wonder played the piano as Wynton Marsalis's septet performed John Coltrane's "Giant Steps," and led the crowd in a jazzed-up version of his own hit, "Living for the City" at a Jazz at Lincoln Center benefit at Harlem's Apollo Theater.

JAZZPAR 2002: Enrico Rava received this year's JazzPar award in Copenhagen. Denmark. The 62-year-old trumpeter has had the highest international profile of any Italian jazz artist since emerging on the international jazz scene in the late 1960s.

CRITICS AND READERS AGREED: Bassist Dave Holland was the first four-category winner in Downbeat magazine's 50th annual critics poll and subsequent reader's poll. He took jazz artist, jazz album, acoustic group and acoustic bass honors. Late pianist John Lewis, longtime musical director of the Modern Jazz Quartet, was elected to the critics poll's hall of fame.

Top honors also went to Sonny Rollins on tenor saxophone, Jim Hall on guitar, Roy Haynes on drums, Keith Jarrett on piano, Dave Douglas on trumpet, Kurt Elling for top male vocals and Cassandra Wilson for top female vocals.

DISAPPOINTING TYME: For factional and other reasons still unclear, the Tyner Tyme held in Philadelphia last August to honor native son McCoy Tyner was described after the fact as an event of "disappointment, even deception" and "doomed to farce."

JAZZ ON HOLD: New York's new mayor, Michael Bloomberg, decided to treat telephone callers to City Hall to selections from "Live in Swing City, Swingin' with Duke," a work by Wynton Marsalis recorded by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, while they wait "on hold." It replaced celebrity voices making public service announcements about New York. Lincoln Center OK'd use of the recording.

FINAL BARS: The upward migration to the celestial jazz band continued during 2002. They included vibes player and bandleader Lionel Hampton, who passed at 94. His distinguished career was so long and prolific that many forgot his early contributions as a member of Benny Goodman's quintet, the first prominent and barrier-shattering integrated band, from 1936 to 1940. And no loss was more shocking than the December 5 death of saxophonist Bob Berg in a storm-related traffic accident near his Long Island, N.Y., home.

Other losses included pianists Roland Hanna, Mal Waldron, Weldon Irvine, Russ Freeman, Henri Renaud, Tommy Owen, Bandile "Fats" Mbambisa, Dean Earl, Pete Jacobsen, Dudley Moore, Dodo Marmarosa. Ellis Larkins, Al Tinney, Peter Kowald and Frank Hewitt; trumpeters Jimmy Maxwell, Charles McGhee and Idrees Sulieman; cornetist Bill Berry; and vibist/drummer Joseph Murrail Jackson.

Also, singers Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney, Marion Montgomery, Roy Kral, Kenny Gardner, Mary Jefferson, singer/guitarist Joe Derise, singer (and former Milwaukee Braves outfielder) Lee Maye; saxophonists Nick Brignola, Mack Pitt, Bubba Brooks, Geneva Perry, Harry Hayes and Jerry Underwood; trombonist Eddie Iglesias, Adolphus "Snooks" Riley and Ward Kimbell, and trombonist and bandleader Ray Conniff.

Also, bassists Wendell Marshall, Ray Brown, Bobby Rodriguez, Charles 'Truck' Parham and Wilber Morris; drummers Walter Bolden, Oliver Johnson, Malcolm Pinson, Claudio Slon, Jerry Fuller and Ronnie Stephenson; guitarist Remo Palmier and Turk Van Lake; organists Big John Patton and Shirley Scott; clarinetists Billy Krechmer and Abe Most; Latin jazz singer-percussionist-composer Pedro "Rudy" Calzado; harpist Daphne Hellman; and whistler Ron McCroby.

Also, saxophonist, singer and brass band founder/leader Harold "Duke" Dejan; bandleader Arthur Lyman; blues singers Big Bo McGee and Jimmie Lee Robinson; violinist Helmut Zacharias, composers and songwriters Matt Dennis, Weldon Irvine, David Mann and Loonis McGlohon; and "Paul "Huckle-Buck" Williams, who, in 1949, had the biggest selling record in Savoy¹s history.

Also, Vanguard Records founder Seymour Solomon; Fantasy executive Phil Jones; Thelonious Monk's widow, Nellie Monk; Matt Betton, International Association for Jazz Education founding executive director; historian and collector Alan Lomax; Billboard magazine editor Timothy White; John S. Wilson, The New York Times' first regular jazz critic; and William F. Dufty, who co-wrote Billie Holiday's autobiography.

Late Dec 2001 deaths: guitarist Babik Reinhardt, trumpeter Conte Candoli, pianist Ralph Sutton, tenor saxophonist Joseph Arena, bassist Herbert ''Hank'' Hankinson and drummer-percussionist George Jinda, co-founder of the fusion group Special EFX.


Here are one writer's choices for the top jazz recordings and reissues of 2002.

The 10 best new jazz releases:

1 ... Wayne Shorter Quartet, "Footprints Live! (Verve)

2 ... Bobby Previte and Bump, "Just Add Water" (Palmetto)

3 ... Renee Rosnes, "Life on Earth" (Blue Note)

4 ... Claudia Acuna, "Rhythm of Life" (Verve)

5 ... Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker, Roy Hargrove, "Directions in Music -- Live at Massey Hall" (Verve)

6 ... Mulgrew Miller and Wingspan, "The Sequel" (MaxJazz)

7 ... Christos Rafalides, "Manhattan Vibes" (Khaeon)

8 ... Sam Yahel, Joshua Redman, Brian Blade, "YaYa3" {Loma)

9 ... Dave Liebman, Don Braden, Dan Moretti, "Latin Genesis" (Whaling City)

10 ...- Michel Camilo, "Triangulo" (Telarc)

The best jazz boxed sets or re-issues:

1 ... Billie Holiday and Lester Young, "A Musical Romance" (Columbia/Legacy)

2 ... Various artists, ":rarum--vols. 1-8" (ECM)

3 ... Miles Davis, "The Complete Miles Davis at Montreux, 1973-1991" (Columbia/Legacy)

4 ... Charlie Parker, "The Complete Savoy and Dial Master Takes" (Savoy Jazz)

5 ... Charlie Christian, "The Genius of Electric Guitar" (Columbia/Legacy)

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