Archive for November, 2011

Jazz at Lincoln Center Goes Worldwide

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Jazz at Lincoln Center has plans to expand abroad, creating a new jazz club in Doha, Qatar, and four other cities as part of an unusual partnership with the St. Regis chain of luxury hotels.

The new club opening in Doha, the capital city, next April will be the first time this nonprofit New York City jazz organization, known for presenting high-quality concerts and education programs at its Columbus Circle home, has established a permanent subsidiary abroad.

The 120-seat club is being built as part of a new $1 billion luxury hotel going up in Doha and will be modeled on Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in Manhattan, with the same curved interior walls, open sightlines, superb acoustics and glass exterior wall with a vista, except that it will overlook the Persian Gulf instead of Central Park.

With a small population and immense wealth from oil and gas reserves, Qatar has evolved into a cultural hub in the Middle East, as the ruling monarchy has invested money in education and the arts in an effort to diversify its economy. In 2008 the government opened the Museum of Islamic Art, a zigguratlike structure of white stone designed by I. M. Pei, and an orchestra, the Qatar Philharmonic, was formed in Doha. Last year the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art opened, with 6,000 works. For the past three years the Tribeca Film Festival has run a festival in Doha, which has a small pop music scene, including some jazz.

The Doha club is only the start, said Adrian Ellis, the executive director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. The group has reached an agreement with St. Regis Hotels and Resorts to open four more clubs in new hotels being built around the world over the next five years, though deals on specific sites have yet to be negotiated.

The Doha deal carries little risk for Jazz at Lincoln Center; the group will receive a percentage of ticket sales for booking jazz acts for the new space, as well as a percentage of the food and beverage sales.

For its part, St. Regis Hotels has persuaded a private developer in Qatar, Omar Alfardan, to invest $20 million to build the club, which will be called Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha. The hotel chain, owned by Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, will employ the staff of the club and pay the fees and travel expenses for the musicians.

Mr. Ellis said the revenue from the Doha club would help support the organization’s educational programs, like the annual Essentially Ellington high school band competition and the Middle School Jazz Academy. The group has a $40 million operating budget, of which about $22 million comes from ticket sales, advertising and other earnings. Mr. Ellis estimated that the partnership with St. Regis Hotels would bring in an additional $1.5 million a year in earnings within five years, not counting the contributions Jazz at Lincoln Center might collect from Qatar’s well-heeled philanthropists if the program there becomes popular.

“For us it’s a contribution back to the bottom line,” he said. “We have a vast array of education programs and related programs that don’t generate a surplus, so we are always looking for new sources of income to support those. But it’s also about reaching new audiences.”

Wynton Marsalis, the virtuoso trumpet player who has long been the artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, said the financial windfall mattered less than the opportunity to spread American culture and to introduce new audiences to jazz.

He said he would initially focus on sending musicians to Doha who are comfortable playing the role of cultural ambassador. The first showcases will have educational themes, he said, highlighting, for instance, important players from New Orleans or different periods in jazz history.

“When we work with our partners, it’s not cut-throat, cold-blooded business deals that we are trying to strike,” he said. “We are trying to strike mutually beneficial deals that allow us to prosper in a community sense.”

Paul James, the global brand leader for St. Regis Hotels, said the partnership fits well with his company’s attempt to use jazz to market its brand, tapping into the history of the original St. Regis Hotel, on East 55th Street, where jazz figures like Count Basie and Duke Ellington played during the height of the swing era.

The luxury chain has been expanding rapidly over the past four years, doubling the number of its hotels to 24. There are eight properties scheduled to open in the next six months, Mr. James said. Turning over the artistic programming at clubs in some hotels to Jazz at Lincoln Center makes good business sense, not only giving the hotel’s clubs a classy imprimatur but also ensuring that the musicians are first-rate, he said.

“You can make a jazz club, but you can’t make a Jazz at Lincoln Center jazz club,” Mr. James said. “That sense of quality and professionalism and the talent of that musician pool is untouchable.”

Mr. James said he approached Jazz at Lincoln Center about the possibility of a partnership in October 2010. The timing was fortunate, Mr. Ellis said. He and Mr. Marsalis had been talking to some of the organization’s board members about establishing a more permanent presence in other cities, replicating the acoustic experience audiences have had since Jazz at Lincoln Center moved into the Time Warner Center in 2004 and raised $131 million to build three high-tech performance spaces.

“St. Regis pitched us our idea,” Mr. Ellis said.

Mr. James said the pieces of the deal came together quickly because Mr. Alfardan, the real estate developer who owns the new hotel in Doha, is a jazz fan and eagerly embraced the proposal.

It is unclear where the future Jazz at Lincoln Center clubs will be built, Mr. James said. St. Regis has entered into talks with the owners and developers of several hotels in other American cities, China and Latin America.

Mr. Ellis said he was confident that at least four more clubs could be opened over the next five years, given the number of hotel projects in the St. Regis pipeline. If it is successful, the performance space in Doha could become a model for other partnerships with for-profit companies.

“If we are careful not to bite off more than we can chew, it could transform our business model,” Mr. Ellis said.

This article was originally published in The New York Times.

Free Jazz Concert at NCCU

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Come join the top NCCU undergraduate and graduate student jazz instrumental and vocal performers in a great evening of jazz music!

Date: Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Time: 7-9 p.m.
Location: B.N. Duke Auditorium
Admission: Free

Clark Terry

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Clark Terry’s career in jazz spans more than seventy years. He is a world-class trumpeter, flugelhornist, educator, composer, writer, trumpet/flugelhorn designer, teacher and NEA Jazz Master. He has performed for seven U.S. Presidents, and was a Jazz Ambassador for State Department tours in the Middle East and Africa. More than fifty jazz festivals have featured him at sea and on land in all seven continents. Many have been named in his honor.

He is one of the most recorded musicians in the history of jazz, with more than nine-hundred recordings. Clark’s discography reads like a “Who’s Who In Jazz,” with personnel that includes greats such as Quincy Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Dinah Washington, Ben Webster, Aretha Franklin, Charlie Barnet, Doc Severinsen, Ray Charles, Billy Strayhorn, Dexter Gordon, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Gerry Mulligan, Sarah Vaughan, Coleman Hawkins, Zoot Sims, Milt Jackson, Bob Brookmeyer, and Dianne Reeves.

Among his numerous recordings, he has been featured with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Count Basie Orchestra, Dutch Metropole Orchestra, Chicago Jazz Orchestra, Woody Herman Orchestra, Herbie Mann Orchestra, Donald Byrd Orchestra, and many other large ensembles – high school and college ensembles, his own duos, trios, quartets, quintets, sextets, octets, and two big bands – Clark Terry’s Big Bad Band and Clark Terry’s Young Titans of Jazz.

His Grammy and NARAS Awards include: 2010 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, NARAS President’s Merit Award, three Grammy nominations, and two Grammy certificates.

His original compositions include more than two hundred jazz songs, and he co-authored books such as Let’s Talk Trumpet: From Legit to Jazz, Interpretation of the Jazz Language and Clark Terry’s System of Circular Breathing for Woodwind and Brass Instruments with Phil Rizzo.

Writer Chuck Berg said, “Clark Terry is one of contemporary music’s great innovators, and justly celebrated for his great technical virtuosity, swinging lyricism, and impeccable good taste. Combining these with the gifts of a great dramatist, Clark is a master storyteller whose spellbinding musical ‘tales’ leave audiences thrilled and always awaiting more.”

After serving in the navy from 1942-1945 during the historic “Great Lakes Experience,” Clark’s musical star rose rapidly with successful stints in the bands of George Hudson, Charlie Barnet, Charlie Ventura, Eddie Vinson, and then in 1948 – the great Count Basie. In addition to his outstanding musical contribution to these bands, Mr. Terry exerted a positive influence on musicians such as Miles Davis and Quincy Jones, both of whom credit Clark as a formidable influence during the early stages of their careers. In 1951 Clark was asked to join Maestro Duke Ellington’s renowned orchestra where he stayed for eight years as a featured soloist.

Following a tour in the “Free and Easy” musical in 1959 with music director, Quincy Jones, Clark’s international recognition soared when he broke the color barrier by accepting an offer in 1960 from the National Broadcasting Company to become its first African American staff musician. He was with NBC for twelve years as one of the spotlighted musicians in the Tonight Show band. During that time, he scored a smash hit as a singer with his irrepressible “Mumbles.”

After his stint at NBC, between his performances and recording dates at concerts, clubs, cruises and jazz festivals, Clark became more dedicated to his greatest passion – jazz education. He organized a Harlem youth band which became the seed for Jazz Mobile in New York City.

Billy Taylor then asked him to teach in educational institutions. This motivated Clark to organize other youth bands and influence many other jazz legends to teach with him at jazz camps, clinics and festivals at colleges and universities, while still maintaining a hectic performance and recording schedule for the next thirty years.

On December 14, 2010, he celebrated his ninetieth birthday, and his students continue to fly from Australia, Israel, Austria, Canada, the United States, and many other locations to Clark’s home for jazz lessons. Clark says, “Teaching jazz allows me to play a part in making dreams come true for aspiring musicians.”

To celebrate his contributions to jazz education, he has been honored with fifteen honorary doctorates, and three adjunct professorships. He has also received numerous awards from high schools, junior high schools and elementary schools where he has shared his knowledge of jazz.

Among his many awards, he has received honors from his hometown in St. Louis, Missouri which include a Hall of Fame Award from Vashon High School; a Walk of Fame Award and Star on Blueberry Hill in St. Louis, and a life-sized wax figure and memorabilia display at the Griot Museum.

Clark has received dozens of other Hall and Wall of Fame Awards, Jazz Master Awards, keys to cities, lifetime achievement awards (four were presented to him in 2010), trophies, plaques and other prestigious awards. The French and Austrian Governments presented him with their esteemed Arts and Letters Awards, and he was knighted in Germany.

His long-awaited book – Clark: The Autobiography of Clark Terry – is available now, published by University of California Press.