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Into the Spotlight and Moving Ahead

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In less than a week, we saw significant attention spotlighting two jazz artists. There's one to watch for on the vocal scene. The other we saw recognized for his decade of moving the music forward while embracing contemporary influences.

Ladies first as they say, no matter than the honors are chronologically skewed.

On October 4 in Washington DC's Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Cécile McLorin Salvant of Miami won the Thelonious Monk Competition for Jazz Vocals over two other finalists and dozen semi-finalists. She won $20,000 in scholarship money and a record deal with the Concord Music Group. Salvant, a French-Haitian-American from Miami FL but currently based in France, sang two ballads—"If This Isn't Love" and “I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone." The other finalists were Charenée Wade of Brooklyn NY and Cyrille Aimée of Fontainebleau, France, who finished insecond and third place, respectively. Each of the finalists was backed by a trio of Reggie Thomas on piano, Rodney Whitaker on bass and Carl Allen on drums.

(At right: The three finalists of the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition (L-R): Charenee Wade, Cyrille Aimee and Cecile McLorin Salvant.) (Monk Institute photo)

On September 28, New York-based pianist-composer Jason Moran was honored with a $500,000 no-strings-attached" genius grant, as they have become known, in the form of a MacArthur Fellowship. Moran, 35, is a pianist, composer, and bandleader was credited with mining a variety of musical styles to create adventurous, genre-crossing jazz performances.

“Moran's signature corpus marries established classical, blues and jazz techniques with the musical influences of his generation, including funk, hip-hop and rock," the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation said. “Through reinterpretation of jazz standards and new compositions of his own, Moran is expanding the boundaries of jazz expression and playing a dynamic role in its evolution in the twenty-first century." Check out the Foundation's video for Moran's viewpoint. Those of us who got to the CareFusion Newport RI Jazz Festival in early August—and made it to the Quad Stage, got a treat in the form of a trio performance by Jason Moran (right) and The Bandwagon, a longtime trio featuring the pianist with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits. Congratulations to all—and then some.

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This story appears courtesy of Ken Franckling's Jazz Notes.
Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved.

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