Scenes from the ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards

We just received a couple of photos from last Thursday’s Deems Taylor Awards event in NYC.  See below.  It was one of those unique NYC events you feel fortunate to experience.  Where else can you find Paul Williams, John Wesley Harding, Michael Feinstein, Greg Garing, Julie Flanders, Paul Moravec, Mathew Shipp, Russell Platt, T.S. Monk, and a bunch of scholars in one relatively small room?  Williams was the benevolent host and emcee of the proceedings.

A highlight of the evening was hearing pianist Orrin Evans play a beautiful solo version of the Monk tune “Well, You Needn’t” in honor of Robin D.G. Kelley’s biography of Monk (Robin couldn’t be there unfortunately – T.S. Monk made gracious remarks about Robin’s work in his absence).

JLP won for book, radio series, and website – the Multimedia award.  It felt good for the whole team to be recognized (Sara Fishko and her colleagues at WNYC, my JLP colleagues at CDS Dan Partridge and Lauren Hart) although space constraints in ASCAP’s gallery meant we couldn’t all be there.

Gene Santoro won an award for an article he wrote about JLP in Chamber Music magazine.  He gave a brief, impassioned speech about how JLP was doing history that wasn’t hero worship, that wasn’t iconography.  He called for more music history work like ours.  It was generous, as was his article.

David Hajdu won an award for his recent book and I regretted not being able to speak to him before we had to leave.  He won’t remember this, but I met him a dozen years ago when he was speaking about his great Billy Strayhorn book at a public library in Hillsborough, NC.  I admired that Hajdu would take the time to visit this small town in honor of Strayhorn’s childhood and family background there.

All in all, it was a terrific event and we were extremely grateful to be recognized by ASCAP, in this kind of company.

Sam Stephenson, Paul Williams, Sara Fishko

Sam Stephenson, Paul Williams, Sara Fishko

My right hand looks strangely deformed in the photo above.  Gene Smith aways said the camera was a liar.  Regarding the photo below, I’m pretty sure it’s the only time I’ll ever speak with this imposing list of names behind me (Art Blakey, Charlie Christian, Johnny Hodges, Earl Hines, Red Norvo, Ben Webster, Lester Young, Tito Puente, Annie Ross, to name a few).  If those actual human beings had been behind me I wouldn’t have been able to speak.

Like most historical jazz photography, the camera man gets down below and shoots up, making the figure look seven feet tall.

Like much historical jazz photography, the upward shooting camera makes the figure look seven feet tall.

- Sam Stephenson

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