On January 11-12, 2018, the inaugural edition of the Jazz Congress was held at Jazz at Lincoln Center facilities. Over 700 members of the jazz community – including artists, managers, agents, radio programmers, journalists, festival and concert presenters, educators and more – attended the conference which was produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center and JazzTimes. The event featured a series of panels, workshops, meetings and performances all focused on expanding the audience for jazz. The keynote address was given by NBA Hall-of-Famer and author Kareem Adbul-Jabbar who spoke about how jazz has been an important part of his life personally and professionally, and about how the music has been and can continue to be part of a movement for social change.
There were numerous panels and discussions on social issues, such as race, sexism and politics, alongside workshops on various topics of concern for artists and industry professionals – from digital marketing to radio programming. Many noted artists participated in sessions, including Wynton Marsalis, Ethan Iverson, Terri Lyne Carrington, Paquito D’Rivera, John Pizzarelli, Jazzmeia Horn, Kenny Barron, Joanne Brackeen, Harold Mabern, Marilyn Maye, Catherine Russell, Nate Smith and Ellen Seeling. Carrington received the Bruce Lundvall Visionary award and was presented with the award by her friend and musical associate Lizz Wright. Previous winners of the award were Randall Kline of SFJAZZ, Brice Rosenbloom (Winter Jazzfest) and Christian McBride.
In keeping with a tradition of an In Memoriam segment that had started with the Jazz Connect Conference held for the last three years at Saint Peter’s Church, bassist Ike Sturm led a group featuring Jesse Harris (guitar), Ingrid Jensen (trumpet), Catherine Russell (vocals) and Melissa Stylianou (vocals) who performed an original piece to accompany a slide show paying tribute to those in the jazz community who had passed during the past year. Sturm runs the jazz ministry at Saint Peter’s.
The conference dovetailed into both the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) conference and Winter Jazzfest, as well as numerous showcases and special events around New York City at the same time.
For more information about the conference visit the Jazz Congress website. Dates for the 2019 conference have not be finalized yet.
All photos are by either Lawrence Sumulong or Frank Stewart from Jazz at Lincoln Center.