Friday, June 6, 2008

News Round-Up: Vision Festival Kicks off 12th Year, NEA Jazz Masters Announced

I had a major realization the other day while watching a rerun of VH1's "Maxim Hot 100" special on mute (I was listening to Brian Blade's "Seasons of Change" for this blog): I am probably the single biggest jazz nerd on the planet. I wasn't thinking "woah, that girl's hot," or "Dayumn, them Pussycat Dolls be some fine mamas" or whatever a regular red-blooded 18-year-old male watching the VH1 "Maxim Hot 100" special is supposed to think, but instead "where is Gretchen Parlato?! Gretchen Parlato should be on this list!" And she should be. Seriously, I have a friend who once said "Oh yeah, Gretchen Parlato is great. And she has a great voice too," and I don't think I've ever heard him say anything like that about anyone.

Anyway, though, onto real news. The Vision Festival, the yearly free and experimental jazz festival in New York, is kicking off it's twelfth year on Tuesday, and as far as I can tell, this year's festival promises to be great. Opening night alone has shows from William Parker and Hamid Drake and Dave Douglas and the Magic Circle (Uri Caine plays keys, Brian Carrott on vibes), and other shows are headlined by Oliver Lake, James Spaulding, and Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quintet (with Vijay Iyer!). So if you're in New York and you're looking for some great experimental jazz and you aren't into the Anthony Coleman-curated version of The Stone (I dare you to try and choose between Rudresh Mahanthappa and Steve Lehman's Dual Identity band at The Stone and Dave Douglas' Magic Circle), check it out.

In other news, the National Endowment finally decided that Lee Konitz was worth 25,000 dollars, and not a moment too soon. Maybe now he can pay for some of his medication. They've been giving out these "jazz masters" endowments for how long? Twenty six years? And they've only decided now to give an award to a man who is arguably one of the greatest and most consistent living improvisers? In the same year that they give it to George "BAAADDDDD" Benson?

Alright, that's a bit unfair. George Benson is a great guitar player when he decides to make real music and not soul-tinged love-jamz. But honestly, isn't Lee Konitz recognized as more than just "a pioneer of cool jazz" by now?

Anyway, that's the news. Check back on Sunday and there should be some sort of new review here.

No comments: