Wednesday, December 27, 2006

JT Calls It a Year

What a year that was according to Jazz Times’ February 2007 year-end issue, in mailboxes now. In their “Year in Review ‘06” the editors take note of the big stories of the year.

They largely refrain from editorializing on Valery Ponomarev’s brutish treatment from French Airport security, suggesting: “Other than a few anger management and human relations courses, perhaps there’s some kind of brie sedative that can be doled out to irate French security guards?” The convoluted attempts to blame this incident on Pres. Bush have struck me as bizarre. The idea that French bureaucrats are acting thuggish in order to do his bidding is obviously ludicrous, given French anti-American sentiment and general dhimmitude. The truth is transported instruments has always been an issue for musicians. Jay Leonhart performed “You Can’t Take a Bass on a Plane” in his Bass Lesson show well before 9-11, and he was trying to check his bass as luggage.

JT also takes note that Sun Ra stalwart Pat Patrick’s son Deval was elected governor of Massachusetts. They note: “word is that Deval wants nothing to do with the Sun Ra legacy, though he did make the story of his childhood struggle—his father abandoned his family to move to New York with the Arkestra—a key part of his biography in his campaign.” No mention of the younger Patrick’s radicalism, in keeping with the general reporting on his campaign. Good luck Bay Staters.

Of course, the editors just can’t help themselves when the subject is the President. Under the inappropriate sub-heading “Reception in the Freedom Later Suite” they mention a state dinner hosted by the president, featuring jazz performances to be broadcast on PBS later next year. They whine: “Sadly, Dubya didn’t get down like Jimmy Carter did with Dizzy Gillespie on the White House lawn.” So Carter made a show of enjoying himself. Great. Then what did he do for jazz afterwards? That’s right, nothing. It has been the Bush Administration’s NEA that has made jazz a priority. Under Carter, no love. If he enjoyed Dizzy so much, why not give him some recognition, but as written here before, only GOP presidents have awarded the Medal of Freedom to jazz artists. And frankly, I don’t think jazz musicians enjoyed Carter stagflation anymore than the rest of the country.

Perhaps most offensive is their item labeled “This Gig is Torture.” Smooth jazzer Marion Meadows had his priorities straight, going to Gitmo to perform for the American men and women in uniform stationed there. Meadows is quoted saying: “Having been asked back again in 2006 is truly an honor.” Good for Meadows. JT sneers: “No word from the detainees about Meadows show.” Way to stand with illegal enemy combatants JT. Oh, but you know they support the troops, right? In reality, Gitmo is one of the most dangerous posts, where the inmates frequently attack our servicemen. Again, give credit to Meadows for thinking for himself, and showing some solidarity with the troops.

So much for the editors. What did the readers have to say? In the past, I launched a campaign for Cuban defector and clear-thinker Paquito D’Rivera in the jazz magazine reader polls, particularly in the clarinet category, where the prohibitive favorite is always Don Byron, an excellent player of pronounced left-leaning politics. The results are in, and Byron won, but D’Rivera came in second. However, last year D’Rivera didn’t even make the list, so maybe we had some impact after all. D’Rivera also placed fourth on the alto list this year, while the year before he was not represented in any category. Is this the benefit of our campaign (aided by JT’s online voting as opposed to DB’s reply cards) or a fluke of fate? Stay tuned next year.