[JPL] NEA Jazz Masters -- Who's Tom McIntosh?

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October 8, 2007

NEA Jazz Masters -- Who's Tom McIntosh?
At the National Endowment for the Arts party last week announcing the 2008
of Jazz Masters at least one celebrant was hoping the award would kick-start
a professional cycle.
"You know," said the 80-year-old trombonist/composer, paraphrasing the
sequence of recognition he said Fernando Lamas had once applied to his
career arc: "Who is Tom McIntosh? Get me Tom McIntosh! Get me a Tom McIntosh
type! Get me a young Tom McIntosh! Who is Tom McIntosh?"
Who indeed?
Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts Dana Gioia was a happy fan
at the induction party held three months earlier than usual at Dizzy's Club
in Jazz at Lincoln Center, because the next International Association for
Jazz Education Conference, traditional site of the announcement, is
scheduled for next January in Toronto, difficult for several of the Masters
to attend. "A soulful class of Masters," I remarked and Gioia, enthralled
with Jazz Master George Wein playing piano behind Lew Tabackin and Randy
Brecker on the stage at Dizzy's Club in Jazz at Lincoln Center, answered, "A
room full of great people!"
Indeed, past masters Paquito D'Rivera, Frank Wess and Randy Weston were
there, along with the newly named: besides McIntosh, the 86-year-old
Cuban-born conguero Candido Camero, 85-year-old trumpeter Joe Wilder and
82-year-old Gunther Schuller. Quincy Jones, 74, couldn't make it, nor the
late pianist-composer Andrew Hill, though his wife Joanne Robinson Hill was
there (as was late Jazz Master Gil Evans' widow Anita and late Jazz Master
Ray Barretto's widow Brandy). Guitarist Howard Alden, who mentioned that
Sean Penn had been one of his best pupils learning to play for Woody Allen's
elegy for gypsy guitarists Sweet and Lowdown was in Wein's happy band, with
bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny (not related) Washington. . .
Wein, best known as producer of the JVC and Newport Jazz Festivals, was
celebrating his 82nd birthday, comping at the keyboard with bouyant swing .
. .
But who is Tom McIntosh? And why is he a jazz master? Having retired in the
late '60s from touring in Dizzy Gillespie's big band McIntosh went to
Hollywood, where he composed music for Gordon Willis's autobiographical film
The Learning Tree, then worked on Shaft, Shaft's Big Score!, A Hero Ain't
Nothin' But A Sandwich and some lesser genre films. In the 1990s he took a
teaching position at New England Conservatory, and issued his first album,
With Malice Toward None, in 2004. (Mostly positive reviews here are from
AllAboutJazz reviewers Jim Santella, John Kelman and One Final Note.com's
David Dupont). A rumored second volume is still forthcoming.
Thin credits for a Jazz Master? Not necessarily -- McIntosh is among the
legion of accomplished, professional musicians who've survived the jazz life
with courting outrageous fame or ostentatious fortune, simply respected by
aficionados and his peers. Admirable modesty -- if not for Quincy Jones and
to a lesser extent Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Gunther Schuller, such
modesty might be the theme of this year's jazz Masters.
After all, Joe Wilder didn't lead a band in New York City under his own name
until a 2006 stand at the Village Vanguard, though he'd been a dependable
lead trumpeter in big bands since graduating from Les Hite to Lionel
Hampton, Jimmie Lunceford, Gillespie and Count Basie in the '40s and '50s --
see him solo with Basie's all-stars on "Fast and Happy Blues".
Candido -- percussionist -- is still making New York City sessions and gigs,
having immigrated from Cuba in 1952 to work with Gillespie (following the
great Chano Pozo), Stan Kenton, Sonny Rollins and others, though seldom in a
spotlit role.
Andrew Hill spent the better part of his career being elusive (however, here
is the entire last concert of his trio, at Trinity Church in New York City
on March 27, 2007, less than a month before his death). Self-deprecating or
not, Hill's presence was such that at his memorial service in September, his
bassist John Hebert and drummer Eric McPherson performed as though he was
sitting right there, pausing to listen to them in the midst of a solo.
Gunther Schuller is well known in the jazz firmament as the french horn
player in Miles Davis's Birth of the Cool recordings, proponent of Third
Stream music, founder of New England Conservatory's highly productive jazz
program, father of rhythm section George and Ed Schuller, conductor of
Mingus's "Epitaph," author of Early Jazz and The Swing Era, two of jazz's
most authoritative books (he's currently working on his autobiography,
rather than volume three of his jazz history, promised to cover the modern
era), and Joe Lovano's recently ambitious records Streams of Expression and
Rush House.
Quincy Jones -- is his most memorable musical accomplishment the opening
bars of Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough"? I've never been
at a party where that didn't drive everyone to dance. More thrilling than
Thriller, more of an anthem than "We Are The World," hotter than his
soundtrack for In The Heat of the Night -- Q, one of black music's biggest
moguls! An A-list celeb! Grammy winner, Academy Award nominee,
producer/publisher and Jazz Master to boot!
The Jazz Masters program was begun in 1982, and since then 100 "great
figures in American music" have been so named. They are nominated by the
public, selected by a specially constituted NEA jazz board. Jazz Masters
receive $25,000 fellowships, and participate in jazz outreach and promotion
programs (details available at the NEA's site. There are all kinds of Jazz
Masters -- Toshiko Akiyoshi to Sun Ra. Who is a jazz master? Get me a jazz
master! Get me a jazz master type! Get me a young jazz maseter! Who is a
jazz master?
Posted by hmandel at October 8, 2007 5:52 PM
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