First Jazz Music Awards Make History at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center – WABE
Here’s a first: the inaugural Jazz Music Awards, celebrating the spirit of jazz, will take place on October 22 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Jazz 91.9 WCLK presents the event, which will be hosted by a stellar duo – singer and actor Dee Dee Bridgewater, and stage and film actor Delroy Lindo. “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes was joined via Zoom by Jazz 91.9 WCLK general manager Wendy Williams and Grammy Award-winning jazz drummer and music director Terri Lyne Carrington.
The interview began with the glaring question, “Why hasn’t there been a large-scale musical award dedicated to jazz in America until now?” This same question puzzled Williams when, as the general manager of two major music radio stations, she decided to address the glaring omission. “I mean, we talk about representation being everything, but [jazz] was so omitted from the awards show landscape that it bothered me. It really is,” Williams said. “We’re trying to answer that question right now with the Jazz Music Awards.”
Assembling an impressive guest list, Williams and Jazz Music Awards Music Director Carrington also knew they wanted hosts who would bring a genuine love of jazz to the event, as well as plenty of charisma. “We thought Dee Dee [Bridgewater] is just a wonderful host,” Carrington said. “She had her own radio show. She hosts a lot of events at the Kennedy Center, and I’ve just seen her improvise when something goes wrong. She’s a real professional in that sense.
Carrington herself brings her authority to the project of rewarding achievement in jazz, holding no less than three Grammys as well as a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award. His organization, the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, pursues its goal of expanding representation both to and within the jazz community. “I started this institute at Berklee about four years ago now and it was really just to create a space in college for women and non-binary musicians to come in, relax, learn music, be themselves. even without the additional burdens that they would sometimes face,” Carrington said. “We realize how important this space is, and not just at Berklee but also at other institutions – how we need to embed this way of thinking in other departments.”
For the Jazz Music Awards, Carrington has assembled what she calls an “all-star cast.” Her ensemble will include pianist Orrin Evans, keyboardist Ray Angry, bassist James Genus, Mark Whitfield on guitar, a horn section and herself on drums with Nikki Glaspie. The ensemble will perform several medleys of works by jazz legends, including tributes to three people who died this year – Ramsey Lewis, Joey DeFrancesco and Pharaoh Sanders. Carrington said: “I personally worked with all of them, actually, on some level. So for me, it’s a big loss.
Williams added, “One of the things we can do because we have this platform is to have an ‘in memoriam’ for our jazz musicians, the artists who have gone on. Where did you see that? … We’re just proud to now have this place to be able to stream all things jazz, even once a beloved musician continues.
The first-ever Jazz Music Awards, presented by Jazz 91.9 WCLK, will take place October 22 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center. Tickets and more information are available at www.cobbenergycentre.com/events/detail/jazz-music-awards.