IAJE & NEA: The Last Chorus

So where was I when I so rudely interrupted myself to tend to other matters? I think I was about to tell you about Saturday, January 14th in New York, the last day of the IAJE convention, and a day that was just as busy for me and John as Friday the 13th, the day John received his NEA Jazz Master award.

The day began not as early as we had hoped; we overslept. There was just enough time to grab coffee and croissant in the upsairs hotel lounge before hopping a taxi to take us to Carroll’s Rehearsal Studios‘ new digs on twelfth avenue. (The only thing farther West is the West Side Highway and the Hudson River.) I had booked a three-hour slot for the first and only rehearsal of John’ new project, Vocal Legacy featuring jazz singer Clairdee and jazz guitarist/vocalist Henry Johnson. (Here’s a pdf of the press release.) Clairdee and her musical director Ken French had met Henry only once, for an all-day marathon meeting and planning session last November. To the mix we added Dennis Mackrel, a wonderful, steadfast and tasty drummer (not to mention longtime friend) who is pefect in any setting be it the Hank Jones Trio or the Count Basie Orchestra, and bassist Mary Ann McSweeney who had recently been on tour with Lee Konitz. It was magic, the kind that is only possible when everyone has enough self-confidence to maintain an open mind and the desire to collaborate in furtherance of a common goal. Of course, Leroy Hamilton was on the scene to document the magic. (I hope to be sharing pictures with you soon.)

John and I left the rehearsal a little early because John had to get back to the Hilton in time to sit on the NEA Jazz Masters panel session moderated by A.B. Spellman. It was an hour-long group reminiscence that was quite entertaining, and it is one of the sessions that was taped for sale by the On-Site Recording folks who I wrote about yesterday. (Scroll down to yesterday’s post for contact info and link to order form.)

After the panel, and the the post-panel handshakes and “can I give you my CD?” queries, we hightailed it to the exhibition hall where John spent over an hour at the MCG Jazz booth autographing our book, “Men, Women, and Girl Singers.” Lots of friends visited the booth during that time, including drummer Michael Stephens, vibraphonist Warren Chiasson, and photographer Carol Friedman. I snagged a ham sandwich to tide us over until the signing ended and we could join his son and daughter-in-law for a very late lunch/early dinner in the hotel cafe, after which we headed up to Sutton South on the second floor of the Hilton, for the 6 PM debut of Vocal Legacy. The show was….

Sorry folks, I’ve got to jump off to the recording studio and I don’t want to be late. Check back later for the rest of the story.