In an unusually large-scale East Coast presentation of the work of West Coast jazz performers, Benny Carter, Buddy Collette and Gerald Wilson will be featured in three concerts Thursday through June 8 at the Library of Congress in Washington.
Collette opens the series of free concerts, followed by Wilson and Carter.
Collette and Wilson will take their entire Los Angeles-based units to Washington for the programs, at no small cost.
Carter, whose 18-piece band uses players from New York and Washington, will premiere "Peaceful Warrior," a newly composed four-movement suite featuring singers Joe Williams and Marlena Shaw with an added 15-piece string section. The programs are being presented under the auspices of the Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin fund. For more information: (202) 707-5502.
Institutional support for events like this Library of Congress series has not always been what it should be. But despite the cutback efforts that have been part of the recent governmental move to downsize, jazz funding continues to occasionally turn up, sometimes with unexpected largess.
The Library of Congress program, in fact, stands out among projects subsidized by government and private sponsorship. It offers unusually choice examples of the kind of useful support and intriguing programming that can take place when reasonable minds get together.
Another project is a collaboration between Wynton Marsalis and Sidney Harman, chairman and CEO of Harman International Industries, dedicated to the premise that education is the key to the survival of jazz in America. The program calls for Marsalis to conduct in-school activities and concert performances in four cities across the country.
"We know ourselves and our times through our music," Harman says, "and no one on Earth understands this better than Wynton Marsalis."
On June 11, Marsalis will teach a special student session at the Benjamin Franklin Middle School in San Francisco, exploring "how and what" to listen for in music. Much of the material will doubtless be drawn from his successful PBS series and book "Marsalis on Music." All schools in the program also receive a Harman audio component system donated by Harman International and a 12-CD starter library selected by Marsalis.
As an extension of the project, Marsalis will return to San Francisco July 11 with his octet--including the talented Wessel Anderson on saxophone--for a concert at the Herbst Theatre. Ticket information: (415) 392-4400.
Passings: Pianist Jimmy Rowles, who died this week of cardiac arrest at 77, was a true musician's musician. The fact that he spent much of his career as an all-purpose rhythm section player and an accompanist for Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee, Carmen McRae and Sarah Vaughan in no way diminished the quality or the importance of his work. In addition to his many recordings, he is survived by at least one classic composition, "The Peacocks," and, above all, by the natural inheritor of his elegant and graceful style, his daughter, trumpeter Stacey Rowles.
Hampton in Town: At the age of 88, Lionel Hampton doesn't move around as vigorously as he once did, except when he sees a vibraphone. "When I played on the memorial tribute for him last September at the Kennedy Center," vibist Terry Gibbs recalls, "Hamp had two people helping him on stage. But as soon as he saw those vibes, man, he pushed those guys aside, and it was like Superman coming to life."
Hampton, the virtual creator of jazz on the vibraphone, will undoubtedly take another crack at his classic rendering of "Flyin' Home" when he makes an extremely rare appearance with the Washington Prep High School Jazz Band on June 9 in a concert and tribute at the school auditorium, sponsored by the schools of South-Central Los Angeles and the L.A. Sentinel. Ticket information: (213) 757-9281.
Signings: Nnenna Freelon, a gifted jazz singer who unaccountably was dismissed from the Columbia Records jazz roster last year, has resurfaced with Concord Records. A wise decision on Concord's part. Freelon, who is a recipient of the Billie Holiday Award from France's Academie du Jazz, has a rich, resonant voice, and her readings have been consistently informed by a lyrical sense of melody and a sophisticated harmonic imagination. Her initial Concord CD, "Shaking Free," is scheduled for July.
Joe Zawinul has made a two-record deal with Escapade Music. The veteran keyboardist's first album, planned for late August, will be "My People." Among the numerous world musicians who will be present are Salif Keita, Trilock Gurtu, Fareed al Haque and Alex Acuna.