Imagine walking thru the hallways of a hotel conference center and around every corner is live jazz. Imagine people of all walks of life – students to the jazz greats and everything in between milling the halls, chatting with one another, smiling. Imagine having your choice of clinics to attend – technology, promotion, practicing, etc. Imagine all this opportunity and excitement available o you from 8 AM until 2 AM the next morning… This is what it’s like at a JEN conference. It’s completely amazing.
I’m going to do a series of blog posts about the conference to keep them short and manageable.
I didn’t get to hear everything I wanted to hear, more or less everything I could have heard. I worked to balance my time between clinics, performances, and the hang / networking. Post-conference people always ask: “What’s the best thing you heard?” Which is never an easy answer when you’ve just been saturated with incredible music for almost 4 days straight! But this year, one group stood out to me:
The Ed Neumeister Quartet with Michael Wolff (piano), John Goldsby (bass), and Danny Gottlieb (drums).
Musically, it was some of the most innovative and creative playing that I heard in a long time. I was transfixed the entire (all too short) 40 minute performance and truly appreciated Ed Neumeister’s writing, especially his arrangement of Take the A Train. Not one of my favorite tunes, but I left liking it again.
My second favorite was the Alan Baylock Orchestra…
Alan’s music just makes me happy. And it has ever since I was introduced to his music when I was in college, and now I’m lucky enough to call him a friend. Alan loves music and it shine through in everything he writes. I left that performance smiling and happy.
At a conference like this, there’s always something that you miss that you wished you’d seen. Or many somethings. You can’t see it all but you really do wish you could. This year I missed seeing the Bass Extremes featuring Victor Wooten and Steve Bailey. I remember seeing Victor Wooten live maybe a decade ago and loved it. I loved the book he wrote – The Music Lesson – too. I wish I had seen that performance and I know it was awesome, because lots of people told me it was one of their favorites.