2014 APAP and JazzConnect

11 Jan

This week the famous yearly conference APAP kicked off in New York City. The other, smaller conference, JazzConnect, which all registered for APAP can attend, is primarily dedicated to jazz, and lasts two days. JazzTimes publisher Lee Mergner and the Jazz Forward Coalition organize JazzConnect, which started on Thursday Jan. 9, and featured several panels with various jazz industry professionals such as radio hosts, reviewers, musicians and festival directors.

On Friday Jan. 10, an entire panel entitled “Jazz in the Future Tense, A Look into the Fractured Crystal Ball” addressed questions pertaining to the way jazz is seen, understood and promoted today, and what the future holds for the American art form.

Peter Gordon, cofounder of the Jazz Forward Coalition (http://news.jazzjournalists.org/2010/11/jazz-forward-coalition-launches/), moderated that panel, which featured James Donio, from the Music Business Association, pianist Jason Moran, guitarist Vernon Reid, and Kristin Thomson, from the Future of Music Coalition. Jason Moran spoke about the importance of “intent, content and emotion” in jazz.

Moran also explained how jazz conservatories throughout the country do not teach students about what really matters, what is essential. “Don’t be you” is their motto. And Moran described a situation where he told one of his students, jokingly and more as a way to experiment, to play for his family after a Thanksgiving dinner. The student did, much to Moran’s surprise, and the student’s grandmother asked for more coffee, his aunt lied down on the sofa and was ready for a full conversation. Moran was delighted to realize, one more time, how powerful music can be.

The artist also reminded the audience how beautiful “the sounds of [the US] are,” and that much pride should derive from them. “This sound is everywhere,” he said.

Reid explained that nowadays, it is not enough to have talent – one also needs to be a top model. And he mentioned the iconic figure Thelonious Monk and wondered if Monk would win the very Thelonious Monk competition today, should he partake in it.

The following panel, “Blue Note at 75,” paid tribute to the 75th birthday of Blue Note Label and also featured Jason Moran. This time however, famed writer Ashley Kahn moderated the discussion in which Michael Cuscuna, from Mosaic Records and pianist Robert Glasper took part. The panelists discussed various Blue Note releases, the history of the label, and what the label is and should be today.

Glasper emphasized that jazz musicians react to what is happening around them while it is happening, so that Blue Note today cannot be what it used to be, which is why the artist uses hip hop in his music.

Bruce Lundvall, former president of the Blue Note label, was present and gave a speech which moved and captivated everybody in the audience.

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