New York City welcomed the New Year with the annual NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) ceremony and concert for the 2014 class of Jazz Masters – Jamey Aebersold, Anthony Braxton, Richard Davis and Keith Jarrett – in JALC:s Allen Room. The evening of Janu-ary 13 was co-hosted by Wynton Marsalis and journalist Soledad O’Bri-en. The evening was webcast and featured a host of earlier Jazz Mas-ters such as Jimmy Heath, Kenny Barron, Dave Liebman and Jimmy Owens as performers as well as others as presenters.
As usual the audience was filled with members of the jazz community, all showing up to cheer and share in the festivities.
As January continued, Mother Nature delivered one of her real winters with much cold air and lots of snow. Notwithstanding the music around town was hot and did much to cheer the spirits. The main venues fea-tured a diversified array of artists. At Blue Note John Pizzarelli shared the bandstand with guest Jane Monheit and later in the month Monty Alexander fronted a group that included John’s father, Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola, Jon Clayton and Jeff Hamilton among others.
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola’s lineup for the month boasted such acts as the Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson Sextet, the Jazz At Lincoln Center Youth Orchestra, a salute to the late legendary pianist Cedar Walton, the Benny Golson Quartet and the Matt Wilson Quartet with special guest John Medeski. The Russell Malone Quartet was smokin’ at the Smoke Jazz and Supper Club.
The club also continued its Coltrane Festival and featured the Marcus Strickland Quartet and the Wayne Escoffery Quartet. Smoke presents music seven nights a week and a Sunday brunch with music as well. Kitano also had lots of music in the air with a different act every night and a jazz brunch on Sunday. Three of the featured groups in January were the Harry Allen Quartet, the Ted Nash Quartet and the Mark Sher-man/Kenny Barron Duo. The Cyrus Chestnut Trio paid a four night visit to the Jazz Standard.
The venue also delivered three Monday night specials called Mingus Mondays that featured the Mingus Big Band on two Mondays and the Mingus Orchestra on the third. Good to hear Mingus music.
Birdland kept the pace with a host of musical nights during the month that included performances by Kurt Elling, the Sean Jones/Regina Carter Quintet, Diane Schuur with Roni Ben-Hur and the Joey DeFran-cesco Trio. Jazz At Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall had a varied list of con-certs with Bill Frisell, Ted Nash and Victor Goines, the Vijay Ayer Trio. The Billy Childs Jazz Chamber Ensemble, the irresistible Bobby McFerrin and the Joshua Redman Quartet all strutting their stuff during January.
Mother Nature took no pity on us in Febrruary either. More snow and more cold hit the city, but Valentine’s Day was warm and loving with good jazz around. Vocalists were featured at most of the venues and rightfully so since you need the words to tell your Valentines how you feel about them. The Tierney Sutton Band was on stage at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Nicole Henry and Rochelle Ferrell sang the words at The Blue Note. Dee Daniels with Cyrus Chestnut celebrated with song at Smoke. Diane Reeves took the stage for a concert at Rose Hall. The legendary Sheila Jordan delighted audiences at the Cornelia Street Café. Cyrille Aimee was the attraction at Birdland.
The next highlight in this wintry February was an evening of tribute to trumpeter Joe Wilder during the week of his 92nd birthday. Bucky Piz-zarelli, Russell Malone, Rufus Reid, Warren Vache, Jimmy Owens, Lor-en Schoenburg, Jimmy Heath, Nicki Parrott and Bill Charlap all got to-gether to salute their fellow musician who has made lots of wonderful jazz through the years.
The jazz will always be hot in this town but let’s hope the weather gets warmer. Stay warm and be cool!