Tuesday night we celebrated the 30th annual NEA Jazz Masters Awards Ceremony and Concert. It was a stellar night for Jazz at Lincoln Center, the NEA and for jazz. We had some of the finest, up and coming musicians in jazz including Kris Bowers, Ambrose Akinmusire and Grace Kelly. This was a night for the Masters, of course, and they were out in full force. Phil Woods, Hubert Laws, Ron Carter, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Candido Camero, Dave Liebman, Sheila Jordan, Jimmy Owens, Jack DeJohnette and others all graced the Rose Hall stage.
Bobby Hutcherson and Kenny Barron earned a standing ovation for their rendition of Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way”. To my surprise, the audience was keenly aware of the harmonic progression to the song and was treated to a solo by Mr. Hutcherson that was lyrical, inventive, sophisticated and sparkling. Kenny Barron, the great accompanist, was in his back pocket for the entirety of the beautiful standard.
Frank Wess, Benny Golson and Kris Bowers joined the JLCO for Mr. Wess’ “Magic”—a blues—and, as everyone present could attest; a whole pile of blues was played! Two saxophones were squeezed in a fashion befitting a music that should sound like people.
Of special note was the beautiful film produced by Sarah Rinaldi, on a jazz budget no less. The production team put on a 2.5-hour show with only a 3-hour rehearsal as preparation. It went off without even one glitch—that must be some sort of record.
The performance speaks for itself.