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November, 2009

First Annual JEN Conference
he Jazz Education Network (JEN) plans to hold the first of its annual conferences at the University of Missouri – St. Louis next spring. JEN board member and UM – St. Louis director of Jazz Studies, Jim Widner, was instrumental in bringing the conference to St. Louis. In June, Widner was recognized with a Downbeat Magazine achievement award for a career of running jazz camps. He was among three music educators recognized across the country. The first 500 members to register for the conference will receive priority seating at evening concerts.

For more information, visit

Holiday Release Free Concert from Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis is back with Christmas Jazz Jam, his first holiday album in 20 years. Marsalis is partnering with Target to exclusively release this holiday recording currently available on iTunes and in stores nationwide on November 1st.

Marsalis is joined by his septet for his 78th recording. Rooted in the spirit of New Orleans and the gospel church, these new arrangements of holiday standards are mixed with soul and swing. Marsalis’ trumpet is joined by Don Vappie on banjo and guitar; Wycliffe Gordon on trombone and tuba; Vincent Gardner on trombone; Victor Goines, Wessell Anderson, Walter Blanding and Paul Nedzela on reed instruments; a rhythm section comprised of Dan Nimmer, Herlin Riley, and Reginald Veal with the vocals of Roberta Gumbel joining the band on “Mary Had a Baby” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

Wynton Marsalis will give back to his fans as he opens the doors of Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center on November 29th, 2009. More than 100 fans will be invited to join Marsalis and his quintet as they take the stage for this once-in-a-lifetime performance. Free tickets will be distributed randomly to Wynton Marsalis e-newsletter subscribers.

One lucky grand prize winner will receive two night’s stay at the Mandarin Oriental, New York. Additional winners will receive invitations to the quintet’s sound check, gift certificates to Gabriel’s Bar Restaurant, tours of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s House of Swing, and more.

This contest continues Marsalis’s efforts to find new ways to connect with his fans and give them an intimate look into his life and artistic process. He blogs regularly on Facebook about his experiences as a composer, educator, and performer on the road. He will also launch a new Web site later this year with exclusive content and opportunities for his fans.

Fans can sign up for free and view full details and rules of the contest at

Portland Jazz Festival
The 2010 Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air Portland Jazz Festival will be held February 22-28 with jazz outreach programming in area schools and community centers on Monday through Friday, February 22-26, leading up to a series of headline concerts Thursday through Sunday, February 25-28 throughout downtown and inner Eastside Portland venues.

The seventh annual Portland Jazz Festival features jazz masters and emerging new artists including three-time Grammy Award-winning bassist, bandleader and composer Dave Holland Quintet, legendary saxophonist and John Coltrane collaborator Pharoah Sanders, the Mingus Big Band devoted since 1993 to the musical legacy of Charles Mingus, Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza, and contemporary trumpeter Dave Douglas Brass Ecstasy.

Additionally, Portland Jazz Festival’s annual thematic programming asks the provocative question Is Jazz Dead (Or Has It Moved to a New Address)? – New Music from Norway, featuring North American premieres of leaders in Norway’s new and burgeoning jazz scene. This “festival-within-a-festival” includes the avant-garde chamber jazz of the Christian Wallumrd Ensemble, the saxophone/accordion duo of Trygve Seim Frode Haltli, and the jazz/rock fusion of In The Country featuring Morten Qvenild (keyboards), Roger Arntzen (bass) and Pal Hausken (percussion).

For more information, visit

The Merritts Present UArts’ Workshop
After receiving the Philadelphia Jazz Heritage Award at The University of the Arts last July, jazz bass legend Jymie Merritt returned to the school on October 23rd to present a workshop. This time he brought his son, Tonight Show bassist Mike Merritt. Jymie and Mike entertained the large crowd of jazz majors with stories about Philadelphia jazz history, personal remembrances of jazz icons, current projects, and a discussion about the rhythmic relationship between bass players and drummers. Mike Merritt, who has been with the Conan O’Brien Show since 1993, spoke of his many musical influences and experiences that led to his current Tonight Show gig. The Merritts received a standing ovation from the students. Jymie Merritt attended The Philadelphia Conservatory (now The University of the Arts) in the 1940s.

To find out more, visit

Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition
The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz hosted the 22nd annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and all-star gala concert on October 11 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater in Washington, D.C.

The Blue Note Records 70th anniversary gala concert attracted a collection of Blue Note recording artists, past and present, including Herbie Hancock; Dianne Reeves; Wayne Shorter; Kurt Elling; Bobby McFerrin; Ron Carter; Terence Blanchard; and McCoy Tyner. Bruce Lundvall, president and CEO of Blue Note Records, was presented with the 2009 Maria Fisher Founder’s Award, a highly coveted award that honors individuals who have made valuable contributions to jazz and jazz education.

The 2009 competition featured the bass and 15 of the world’s most outstanding young jazz bassists who were selected to compete before a panel of jazz greats including Ron Carter, Charlie Haden, Dave Holland, Robert Hurst, Christian McBride, and John Patitucci.

Ben Williams, 24, of Washington, D.C. received the $20,000 first place scholarship and a recording contract with Concord Records; Joe Sanders, 25, of Milwaukee received the second place, $10,000 scholarship; and Matt Brewer, 26, of Oklahoma City received the $5,000 third place scholarship. The scholarships are geared to help pay tuition for college-level jazz education studies and provide funds for private, specialized instruction.

The concert also featured the winner of the Thelonious Monk International Composers Award, sponsored by BMI. This year’s winner was Joe Johnson of Kansas City, Mo., who performed his winning composition, “Shepherd’s Song.” The Composers Award, which carries a prize of $10,000, is presented annually to a composer who best demonstrates originality, creativity and excellence in jazz composition.

Proceeds from the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Bass Competition and Blue Note Records 70th anniversary gala concert will help fund public school blues and jazz education programs throughout Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Delta.

For more information, visit

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