Friday, January 12, 2007

IAJE Day 2

Panels started for real on Thur. One interesting assembly discussed jazz on television. Somehow they did have enough material for an hour panel. Don Braden discussed the challenges of scoring Cosby, the most recent show from the Cos. The original conception was for something Monk-like, but the network wanted a more upbeat theme. At least it gave work to musicians like Braden, Arturo O’Farrill, and Dave Valentin. There was a representative from Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis. Evidently, it has received decent ratings for PBS, around .3 (point three). The real challenge it faces continues to be timeslot—no help there from WNET 13 here in New York. There was also a panel on Jazz and Politics, which I’ll have to pull out of the deck and address separately once I’ve reviewed my notes. It was about what you suspect it was, though.

There was a strong musical lineup through the day, including Ed Neumeister’s NeuHat Ensemble, a big band augmented with string ensemble that had a distinctive sound. Taylor Eigsti’s young quartet did well for themselves, distinguishing themselves on “Love for Sale” and doing the nearly impossible by making Bjork’s “I’ve Seen it All” actually sound interesting.

One of the best shows was Jerry Dodgion’s Joy of Sax with Frank Wess. The kicked off with “Quill” a tribute to Gene Quill composed and arranged for the group by Phil Woods. The tune and the performance, Woods' first live hearing of their rendition, were sparkling. Then Wess came out for the first of several deserved standing ovations. He can still bring it, whether chewing up the choruses on flute for a slow blues, or bringing down the house on tenor for “Cotton Tail.”

Dave Samuels and David Friesen as Double Image, were more cerebral, but the vibe and marimba duo’s freely improvised set provided some memorable moments too. Ingrid Jensen performed a set of originals in her warm Woody Shaw inspired style, to a packed house, showing she deserved the upgrade in space from her last IAJE appearance.

As was the case Wed. night, the highlight of the Grand Ballroom shows, featured Mario Rivera, this time playing with Conrad Herwig and Brian Lynch’s Latin Side of Miles Davis group. His baritone really gave heavy authority to the proceedings.

Again, the 11:00 Trianon concert was the place to be. JoAnne Brackeen’s quartet played some amazing music, including Afro-Cuban and Spanish derived songs. Brackeen also played a beautiful solo take of “Lush Life.” Overall, despite the long set changes in the Grand Ballroom, the vibe has been good so far.

(again, forgive typos and the like. I'll make correction and flesh some things out after the show.)