Roger Neumann | Photo: LAJS
Composer-arranger Roger Neumann of Saugus will be among the honorees at the Los Angeles Jazz Society’s 29th Annual Jazz Tribute Awards Dinner & Concert, a fundraiser staged at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City hotel on Sunday, Oct. 21, starting at 4:30 p.m.
Neumann and Scott Whitfield are both Jazz Educator Award recipients, as saxophone legend, composer and multiple Grammy-winner Wayne Shorter is the top Jazz Tribute honoree at this year’s festivities, to be hosted by Leonard Maltin with Herbie Hancock serving as Honorary Chair.
Neumann has been with the Jazz Society’s Bill Green Mentorship Program for 12 years as a Workshop Leader, mentor/teacher of reed instrument students, and does musical arrangements for the group bands. He is also involved in Jazz America and several teaching programs in his home state of Iowa. Neumann was presented with the LAJS Composer/Arranger Tribute Award in 2002.
This year’s awardees also include Lifetime Achievement Award recipient John Pisano; Lifetime Composer/Arranger Award recipient Gordon Goodwin; Jazz Vocalist Award recipient Denise Donatelli; David L. Abell Angel Award recipient Jim Barrall; Teri Merrill-Aarons Founder Award recipient Terence Love; and Shelly Manne Memorial New Talent Award recipient Jamael Dana Dean.
The Jazz Tribute also includes special guests Jeff Hamilton, Larry Hathaway and Barbara Morrison.
Dinner and concert guests will enjoy a reception, marketplace, silent auction, dinner, awards ceremony and a special live concert with the honorees. The concert portion of the evening will feature performances by Wayne Shorter & friends, the John Pisano Trio, the Denise Donatelli Trio, and the Jamael Dean Dana Trio. Concert-only tickets are also available.
The annual awards event was established to recognize and honor Los Angeles-based artists for their contributions to furthering the art form of jazz. This major fundraising event attracts musicians and jazz lovers from all over Southern California and supports the general operations of the organization and its education programs.
The LAJS was founded in 1985 by a group of musicians and jazz lovers committed to elevating the image of jazz and its artists in the community. The mission of the LAJS is to excite, educate and engage public school students with the vibrant rhythms and sounds of the only indigenous American music — jazz. LAJS presents multi-cultural and interactive in-school and off-campus jazz education programs.
Headed by LAJS President Flip Manne, the organization also promotes and honors the legacy of jazz and ensures its future by identifying and nurturing the emerging jazz musicians of tomorrow. LAJS presents an ongoing calendar of activities and members are informed about these events and other jazz news through its website, email blasts and newsletter, “Quarter Notes.”
The LAJS offers four outreach programs with wide-ranging impact.
“Jazz In Schools” provides free jazz concerts for more than 22,000 young people in 45 LAUSD elementary schools during the month of February, Black History Month. The program helps fill the educational vacuum left when schools made drastic cutbacks in the arts.
The “Bill Green Mentorship Program” selects public school students to receive extensive training in advanced jazz techniques from professional musicians, capped by a professional recording session.
“Jazz CoolCats” is LAJS’s 10-week after-school jazz education class for elementary school children.
“JazzGiving” is a program created by LAJS that provides donated musical instruments to schools. The youth programs are designed to identify and nurture emerging jazz musicians and help to create future audiences by stimulating an appreciation for jazz.
LAJS is also deeply supportive of professional artists, presenting the highly regarded “Vibe Summit,” a day-long celebration featuring some of the nation’s leading vibraphonists, as well as the annual Jazz Tribute Awards Dinner & Concert.
Past Tribute Awards honorees include Arturo Sandoval, George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Horace Silver, Buddy Collette, Shelly Manne, Louie Bellson, Benny Carter, Ray Brown, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Harold Land, Poncho Sanchez, Dee Dee Bridgewater and John Clayton, among others. These various programs and events have earned LAJS recognition across the country as a leader in preserving and promoting jazz.
Tickets to the event are $200-$250 per person; individual and corporate sponsorship tables are available from $1,000-$10,000. Concert-only tickets are $75. There are substantial ticket discounts for LAJS members. The Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City is located at 555 Universal Hollywood Drive at Universal City.
For tickets, additional information, to join the Los Angeles Jazz Society, or to make a donation to help support its educational outreach efforts, visit www.LAJazz.org or call (818) 994-4661.
Here are more notes on this year’s honorees from the LAJS:
Multiple Grammy award-winner, saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter is one of the few jazz musicians who can, without a doubt, be called “a living legend.” Many of his compositions are jazz standards; many of his records are studied endlessly. He’s one of the artists who both musicians and fans obsess over – and even at 77, he continues to reinvent his musical personality with every performance. Following a short time with Horace Silver, he moved on to join Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, becoming the band’s music director. Miles Davis, after several attempts, finally convinced Shorter to join his Quintet where he became the band’s most prolific composer. Though some will argue about whether Wayne Shorter’s primary impact on jazz has been as a composer or as a saxophonist, hardly anyone will dispute his overall importance as one of jazz’s leading figures over a long span of time. Shorter’s continually expanding body of work is inextricably linked to the history of modern music. His music transcends genre while keeping the improvisational genius and surprise of jazz burning at the center. Regarded as one of the most significant and prolific performers and composers in jazz and modern music; Wayne Shorter has an outstanding record of professional achievement in his historic career as a musician. He has received substantial recognition from his peers, including nine Grammy Awards and 17 other Grammy nominations to date as well as the prestigious Jazz Master award from the NEA. Shorter’s childlike imagination and ceaseless innovation in music invite comparison to the enduring vitality of Picasso in the world of art or of Bergman in film. Today, Shorter continues to dazzle audiences with his Quartet featuring Danilo Perez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade, creating some of the most powerful music of his career.
John Pisano (a Studio City resident) began his musical career playing the piano, and at age 14, he took up the guitar. Despite his exceptional accomplishments as soloist in his early professional years, Pisano favored and chose the role as supporting player, which he says is his “comfort zone.” Over the years, he recorded and played with such jazz legends as Benny Goodman but his greatest commercial success came with his many years with the Herb Alpert band when he recorded and published some of his own compositions. Pisano has left an indelible mark on the history of jazz guitar and continues to influence the jazz guitar community today and is being awarded for his weekly guitar night that the acclaimed jazz guitar virtuoso hosts with some of the best guitarists in the world at his weekly guitar night event in Southern California.
Keyboard and woodwind player Gordon Goodwin (a Thousand Oaks resident) has built a larger-than-life reputation throughout the music industry for his composing, arranging and playing skills. A Grammy- and Emmy Award-winner, Goodwin has worked with such jazz greats as Ray Charles, John Williams, Natalie Cole, Mel Torme and Quincy Jones and his cinematic scoring and orchestration craft can be heard on many films. His Big Phat Band brings the big band tradition into the present with a highly contemporary, highly original sound featuring Goodwin’s witty, intricate and hard-swinging compositions.
Described as “a musician’s singer,” jazz singer Denise Donatelli (a Studio City Resident) first revealed a musical inclination when she picked out “Silent Night” on the piano at the age of three. At six, she was a winner at the National Music Federation piano competition, and 14 years of classical piano study followed. Today, Donatelli is critically acclaimed as one of the most interesting and important jazz singers on the scene today. Her 2010 album “When Lights are Low,” a Grammy nominee for “Best Jazz Vocal Album,” confirms Donatelli’s status in the upper echelons of talented and engaging jazz artists in the country.
Jim Barrall (a Santa Monica resident) is a partner in the law firm of Latham & Watkins, and in addition to his pro bono legal services on Skid Row, he is actively involved in organizations promoting jazz. He has served as President of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Jazz at UCLA and has worked to raise funds for Jazz Legacy Scholarships for outstanding African American students entering the Jazz Studies Program. Jim was also involved in the establishment of the Los Angeles Jazz Society’s Bill Green Mentorship program. He is dedicated to help nurture jazz musicians of tomorrow.
Scott Whitfield (a Pasadena resident) has been with the Bill Green Mentorship Program for seven years. He conducts the workshop and recording sessions, writes arrangements for the students and is a mentor/teacher to trombone students. He formerly taught at Rutgers University for several years before moving west. He currently plays in the Mike Vax Stan Kenton Reunion Band and conducts student workshops throughout the country.
Terrence Love has always been emotionally moved and motivated by music. Though occasionally gigging as a sax man and a sound engineer with various bands throughout the years, he always dreamed he might someday own a jazz club and in 1994, he opened the doors to Steamers in Fullerton. Proof that his instincts were correct is found in the ever-growing list of internationally known musicians who have appeared there. Cuts in schools for the performing arts motivated Terrence in 1998 to join with others in founding Friends of Jazz, dedicated to helping school jazz programs. He is dedicated to the survival of jazz.
Thirteen-year-old Jamael Dana Dean is the grandson of legendary drummer Donald Dean and a graduate of the Jazz Society’s Bill Green Mentorship Program. His musical journey began at the age of 8, when, at his request, his parents bought him a small keyboard and he began playing songs he heard on the radio. Now in the 8th grade, he’s a straight-A student and practices and listens to music 24/7. With Grammy-winner Bill Cunliffe as his mentor and instructor, Dean is well on his way toward a bright future in jazz.