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IAJE Annual Convention 2008

Toronto, Canada - January 2008
Written by Jamie Baum, flutist/composer

Fai click qui per leggere la versione in italiano

Both the upside and downside of the annual IAJE Convention is that there are so many concerts, clinics and masterclasses to attend, people to meet, instruments to try, booths to see and schmoozing to be done. Deciding what to do, actually making your way and arriving in time at your chosen destination are some of the issues one must face when venturing from your warm, cozy hotel room. (Why can't they finally hold a convention in the Caribbean?).

eing that I live in NYC and can often hear many of the performers featured at these conventions, both seasoned and up-and-coming, I like to make my way to the musicians I don't get to see. Of course this year's main event, the Saturday night concert, showcased four top Canadian bands. Competing with trumpet star Randy Brecker who performed at the famed downtown Rex Hotel Jazz & Blues Bar, attendance was lighter than hoped for this diverse offering presented by the Canada Council for the Arts. Beginning with the Francois Houle Octet, followed by Les Projectionists, Barry Bromberg's Random Access Large Ensemble and ending with Mainstream Icon Quintet, the music ranged from straight-ahead modern jazz to rock-infused fusion. While each group's set was quite long for a four-band evening, the audience seemed enthusiastic, enjoying the different styles offered.

The UK maintained an unusually large presence at this year conference with support from their Arts Council, record labels, radio stations and industry organizations. With a gathering of Irish, Scottish and British industry representatives and musicians performing and attending to the largest booth at the Industry Exposition, their goal was summed up in their entitled promo CD "Brit Jazz breaks Out". Two performances that were particularly notable included the "young lions" group Empirical who were winners of the EBU European Jazz Competition 2007, and of course, the always inspiring Kenny Wheeler and Norma Winstone performing with the Conservatories UK Big Band. While much of the music was interesting and played well by this group, the audience (myself included) were disappointed that the featured artists were only brought out for the last piece of the hour-long performance.

A composer myself, I try to make it attend the annually commissioned pieces performed at the Conference Opening General Session. Sponsored by the IAJE and ASCAP, these awards are given both to an established composer and an emerging composer for outstanding compositional achievements. Each composer is commissioned to compose a work in honor of a chosen artist, this year being Frank Foster, to be premiered at the IAJE. Having enjoyed both pieces, I caught up with the composers for descriptions of their work.

Established composer recipient Tim Hagans is a renowned trumpet player, composer/arranger who has also been nominated for a Grammy on one of his many CDs. "For Box of Canoli, I composed four different events for the piece. All events were seemingly unrelated to each other in melody, harmony and general vibe. The differences were apparent and obvious. But as I worked with the materials more and more, similarities, subtle and hidden, became obvious. The final three minutes of the piece combines these materials to form a fifth.

I love to work in this manner. Even though I wrote 4 different happenings, subconsciously I may have placed a few commonalties knowing that I would attempt to combine all ingredients for the summation. This successful musical conclusion gives the listener a sense of wholeness and satisfaction as well giving the musicians an interesting playing experience. Influences for the piece aside from honoree Frank Foster include Dmitri Shostakovich, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Aaron Copland and Thad Jones.

Emerging composer Ayn Inserto has received several awards for her composing and is a teacher the Berklee College of Music. "My piece, Vinifera, comes from the phrase Vitis vinifera which is the Common Grape Vine from which most wine is made from. The inspiration for this piece came from going wine tasting in the Napa Valley and was the most different piece of music I've written in a while. I wanted to compose a piece that was energetic, outside conventional tonality but still accessible by many. I hoped to have accomplished this by writing in a more "minor" setting and also utilizing more counterpoint than I have in the past. Overall, I just wanted to compose a good piece of music that flowed well that can be enjoyed by the listener."

Randy Brecker with Pat & Joe Labarbera @ The Rex

Empirical 1 - IAJE 2008 - Toronto

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Publishing Date: 13/04/2008

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