The Jazzmobile rolled to the Hudson Theater in Midtown to celebrate its first-ever Jazzy Awards in honor of Dr. Billy Taylor’s 90th birthday celebration. It was a big evening with an all-star cast of musicians like Jimmy Heath, Frank Wess, Wycliffe Gordon, vocalists Dianne Reeves and Charenee Wade and the Jazzmobile Big Band, conducted by Cecil Bridgewater with WNBC-TV’s David Ushery providing wit and commentary.
The first Jazzy Award went to jazz producer extraordinaire NEA Jazz Master George Wein. The producer was awarded not just in recognition of his worldwide jazz productions or for producing the first Newport Jazz Festival in 1954, but more for his diverse contributions to the world of jazz.
Wynton Marsalis, artistic director for Jazz at Lincoln Center, presented the Jazzy Award to the JPMorgan Chase Foundation for its many years of support.
Taylor was awarded posthumously in honor of his 90th birthday and his many contributions to jazz-which he called “America’s classical music”-as a genius pianist, composer and arranger as well as a co-founder of Jazzmobile, educator and legendary radio and television host. Kim Taylor-Thompson (Dr. Taylor’s daughter) accepted the award and a painting by renowned artist Leroy Neiman, both presented by Marsalis.
This event, like those other major nonprofit jazz organizations, gave Jazzmobile an opportunity to raise much-needed funds in a large venue. And you don’t have to wait until next year to donate to their educational programs and concerts-visit jazzmobile.org.
Celebrate the music of Dr. Makanda Ken McIntyre under the direction of Craig S. Harris on Oct. 21 at the Middle Collegiate Church (50 E. 7th St. at Second Avenue) at 8 p.m.
The band will include trombonist and musical director Harris; Richard Fairfax, James Stewart and Jay Rodriguez on reeds; Eddie Allen on trumpet; Richard Harper on piano and baritone sax; Calvin Jones on bass; and Tony Lewis on drums. There will be guest appearances by pianist Andrew Bemkey, drummer Napoleon Revels-Bey and percussionist Warren Smith.
McIntyre was a tireless innovator for over 50 years until his death. When he died in 2001, he had 12 albums, more than 400 compositions and 200 arrangements to his credit. He was known primarily for leading his own ensembles, performing on alto saxophone, flute, bass clarinet, oboe and bassoon. From solo to orchestral works, his power and versatility as an arranger was heard in sonorous blends and meticulous craftsmanship.
He was the featured soloist with Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra from 1984 until his death. He also recorded and appeared with a wide range of artists, including Muhal Richard Abrams, Nat Adderley, Rashied Ali, Ben Riley, David Murray, Reggie Workman and Ron Carter.
In 1998, McIntyre served as jazz ambassador to the Middle East under the auspices of the Kennedy Center and U.S. Information Agency. He founded the Contemporary African American Music Organization in 1983 to promote free expression and continuing education in music and the performing arts with African-American origins.
In over 30 years as an educator in public schools and universities, Makanda touched the lives of several generations of musicians. At the State University of New York at Old Westbury, he founded and chaired one of the nation’s first African-American arts departments. His commitment to each student was generous and heartfelt, and gave rise to some of the great musicians of our time.
This concert celebrates McIntyre’s work as a composer and arranger. Harris, a young innovator in his own right who is more than apt to perform the music of this great but underrated musician, had McIntyre as a music professor at Old Westbury. Later they became colleagues and friends.
Harris’ resume includes playing with such progressive musicians as Jaki Byard, Cecil Taylor, Muhal Richard Abrams, Lester Bowie, Sam Rivers, Sun Ra and Abdullah Ibrahim.
“This year will mark several anniversaries of my mentor Makand Ken Mcintyre-the 80th year since his birth, the 10th year since his death and the 40th year since he founded the Department of Performing Arts at the State University of New York College at Old Westbury,” stated Harris. “It will be my honor to lead a group of New York’s best musicians in a concert of his compositions and arrangements. He shared so much with me and so many others.”
For more information, visit middlechurch.org.