J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, January 12, 2007

IAJE Day 1

This year’s IAJE should be very well blogged. When I posted quickly Wed. afternoon, two people had already signed onto Blogger from that terminal in the conference's internet café area. As mentioned Wed. on the fly, IAJE started well, with Bobby Watson and the La Guardia High School Jazz Sextet. The Monk Institute supports several high school jazz programs, bringing in big name artists like Watson for month long teaching gigs. The results sound impressive. Watson also noted approvingly that the Monk Institute does not allow their ensembles to play with sheet music on the bandstand. You have to respect the old school approach, there.

The evening’s concerts established a nice vibe. One for All played a nice set of their upbeat hardbop. The Grand Ballroom show in the Hilton featured a nice mix. Doc Severinsen was scheduled to guest with the Music School’s Crescent Super Band, but was forced to cancel—no announcement why. Ernie Watts stepped in as a last minute replacement (no disrespect, but I was more interested to hear him than Severinsen) and performed a couple tunes with the Crescent band, including a driving performance of “East Coast Envy.” Joey DeFrancesco played a swinging set with Ron Blake, but the vocal number did not have nearly the same energy. Musicians this year seem much less reticient about plugging CDs, which is fine. After assuming in jest everyone had already bought his last CD, DeFrancesco joked that if anyone doesn’t, surely they can have someone burn it for them. That’s the state of the business, I suppose. The best act of the Grand Ballroom lineup was the Latin Giants of Jazz, consisting largely of Tito Puente’s former band, including the great Mario Rivera, performing the music of Puente, Machito, and Tito Rodriguez. A few people were even dancing, and nobody dances anymore. In between musical acts, there was also an appropriate presentation to Wendy and some of the Jazz Foundation’s financial angels, St. Agnes Varis of AgVar Chmicals and longtime Foundation supporters e-trade, for there support of NOLA musicians.

The real revelation came during one of the late night concerts. Norwegian trumpeter Mathias Eick had been awarded the IJFO International Jazz Award for New Talent during the Ballroom show, and he got his set in the Trianon room for a show featuring his regular working trio. Eick will be recording for ECM and he should fit in nicely there. He still has his own conception, running a gamut of moods, from a heavy keyboard distorted e.s.t. vibe, to a lighter, freer ECM-ish sound, and finishing with a mellow swing. So far, Eick is the discovery of the show.