On Thursday night before a packed house at Birdland, I had the privilege of presenting genius composer-bandleader Maria Schneider with three 2018 Jazz Awards on behalf of the 185 voting members of the Jazz Journalists Association. She won for best jazz composer, best arranger, and best large ensemble for the Maria Schneider Orchestra.
If there were an award for best public service by a musician, she might win that as well, for her tireless activism in the fight to get fair compensation for music creators and other artists. It’s a fight that, as Maria will tell you, is far from over.
Maria once told me her favorite compliment that she ever received. A musician friend of hers was driving his 12-year-old son to soccer practice and playing The Thompson Fields on the car stereo. After a few minutes of listening, his son said, “Wow, Dad, I didn’t know there was music that sounded like this.” There is.
The 2017 Newport Jazz Festival was, as usual, a showcase and a proving ground for great soloists. Here’s my recap, concentrating on a few of the finest performances I heard, including those of vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant (above) who performed with the Aaron Diehl Trio; the Maria Schneider Orchestra; the Benny Golson Quartet; and the Christian McBride Big Band.
“If everybody gets used to getting their music for free, nobody is going to pay for music anymore,” says the Grammy-winning bandleader Maria Schneider. She is hopping mad at YouTube and Spotify, and she wants you to be hopping mad, too.
Schneider describes the current system of digital music distribution as one in which huge corporate behemoths reap billions in revenue, while leaving a few crumbs – tiny fractions of a penny per play – for the creators, and then lie about what a great public service they’re performing. “It’s been nothing less than a massive redistribution of wealth,” she told me in my recent cover story on Ms. Schneider for DownBeat. Everybody who makes music or listens to it – that’s all of us – need to hear what she has to say, then get involved to force Congress to change the Copyright Law – or else musicians won’t be able to survive. That’s the subject of the first half of the interview. In the second half, we talk about her sublime music and her muse.
Here’s a list of my favorite jazz CDs of 2015, as published in Jazz Times.
1. Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap, The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern(RPM/Columbia)
2. Maria Schneider Orchestra, The Thompson Fields (ArtistShare)
3. Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet, Intents and Purposes (Enja)
4. London, Meader, Pramuk & Ross, The Royal Bopsters Project (Motéma)
5. Aaron Diehl, Space Time Continuum (Mack Avenue)
6. Dave Stryker, Messin’ With Mister T (Strikezone)
7. Rudresh Mahanthappa, Bird Calls (ACT)
8. Cécile McLorin Salvant, For One to Love (Mack Avenue)
9. Nilson Matta, East Side Rio Drive (Krian)
10. Luciana Souza, Speaking In Tongues (Sunnyside)
1. Tony Bennett/Bill Evans, The Complete Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Recordings(Fantasy)
2. Wes Montgomery, In the Beginning (Resonance)
3. Miles Davis, At Newport 1955-1975: The Bootleg Series Vol. 4 (Columbia Legacy)
Honorable mentions: Karrin Allyson, Many a New Day: Sings Rodgers & Hammerstein (Motéma); Chris Dingman, The Subliminal and the Sublime (Inner Arts Initiative), Chris McNulty, Eternal (Palmetto); Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Cuba: The Conversation Continues(Motéma); Robert Glasper, Covered (Blue Note); Jonathan Kreisberg, Wave Upon Wave (New For Now); Duduka da Fonseca Trio, Jive Samba (Zoho)… and I may add some others as they occur to me.