Archive for February, 2010

Willard Jenkins

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

The Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival is this weekend! Here are some thoughts from the Festival’s Artistic Director, Willard Jenkins.

Sometimes we find that unfortunately a great idea that may have appeared robust and healthy in its time was in reality the product of one driven individual.  Such was the case with the former East Coast Jazz Festival.  When the beloved vocalist and educator Ronnie Wells passed on to ancestry the splendid idea known as the East Coast Jazz Festival expired as well.  Many of us were always struck at the great party atmosphere of the ECJF, and of particular interest to me was the healthy audience that always attended, an audience which tended to be a more mature, larger African American audience than one experiences at the usual jazz festival; to be sure that audience was quite comfortably diverse.  Obviously that had a lot to do with the talent philosophy that Ronnie always maintained — deep in the blues, drenched in soul, with a great many of her vocalist peers on hand to give the Great American Songbook a thorough workout. It was with those very salient factors in mind that a committee of good folks came together at the urging of the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County.  Our deliberations yielded the brand new Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival.

Our goals have always been to rekindle the spirit of the ECJF,  pay homage to Ronnie Wells and her efforts, engage as many of our finest Washington, DC metro region artists as we could, leaven that with some of outstanding traveling jazz soloists and guests, capture the joi de vivre of the ECJF in terms of audience, and do our best to cure the mid-winter blues around these parts.  Given the snows and frigid winds we’ve been experiencing around these here this winter, the weekend of February 19-21 at the Hilton Hotel on Rockville Pike can’t come soon enough. The Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival is guaranteed to throw another log on the fire and deliver some of the swingingest and down to the bone soulful jazz the local arts & culture scene will experience this year.  For our complete lineup, constant updates and other festival information please visit

- Willard Jenkins, Artistic Director of the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival

The Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival will take place this weekend, February 19-21, at the Hilton Rockville. Visit for more information. You can also visit Willard’s blog, The Independent Ear, at

Hoot, sweet.

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day and President’s Day weekend! In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I’ve decided to write a love letter to my preferred choice of Twitter client: HootSuite.

Dear HootSuite,

It’s just been a couple of months, but already I see a difference in how I manage AHCMC’s Twitter account. When I used to update through Twitter’s website, I just wasn’t happy. I was going to (remember him?) for my URL-shortening needs, then copying and pasting them in Twitter’s web client, then going back to to track click-throughs. It was just not working for me.

But you! You billed yourself as “The Professional E-mail Client” and offered me stability, security and efficiency, and I can never thank you enough. Oh, what the heck — I’ll come out and say it — here it goes:

HootSuite, I love you. Let me count the ways:

  • You let me shorten my URLs and track them. No more copying and pasting URLs and loading to check how many click-throughs each link got — you’ve got it all.
  • You let me schedule tweets. You know I’m busy. This might be counter-intuitive to the rapid fire nature of Twitter, but when I have four or five announcement tweets to send in a day, you let me write them and schedule them throughout the day.
  • You let me see my feed, mentions, direct messages and sent tweets in one screen. I have to scroll sideways, but it’s all there. I’ve even added a box for our arts and humanities organizations list so I won’t miss their tweets.

There are more reasons, but it’s so early in our relationship, I shouldn’t gush. Just know that you rock my socks.

Thanks, Hootsuite. See you tomorrow.


(Think I’ve fallen for the wrong Twitter client? Let me know what you think and comment below!)

Mulgrew Miller

Friday, February 12th, 2010

The Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival is a week away! Here are some thoughts from one of the weekend’s featured artists and jazz pianist extraordinaire, Mulgrew Miller.

What initially attracted you to Jazz music?
The ability and opportunity to creatively express one’s self at a high level of musical integrity was what I found most enticing about Jazz

When was the moment you realized you had a passion and desire to learn and perform Jazz?
My passion happened in an instant when I saw pianist Oscar Peterson on a late talk show in 1970.

Who are two people who were influential in your early education as a Jazz musician?
Two people who were influential in my early studies of jazz were pianist, James Williams and LA saxophonist Rudolph Johnson, both deceased.

As an artist performing nationally and internationally, what are a few reasons you find it’s important to perform at the MAJF?
The MAJF offers a vast number of artist who will play together are not usually heard in that combination or context.

Tell us a bit about the impact that Jazz festivals had on your growth as musician during your early years as a performer.
Playing in Jazz Festivals gives one the experience of playing for large audiences. It also affords one the opportunity to hang out and hear other musicians.

Visit Mulgrew Miller’s website at The Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival will be held at the Hilton Rockville from Friday, February 19 to Sunday, February 21. More information is available at

Snowed in!

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

You’ve been stuck in the house for days, save for a single death-defying trip to the grocery store to replenish supplies before Snowpocalypse Round Two (and it seemed like the rest of Montgomery County had the same idea). The DVDs have been watched, the coloring books have been exhausted and the kids are going stir-crazy. What are you going to do?

  • Grab a book. Read an old favorite or pull out something snow-appropriate (have your kids read the Little House on the Prairie books?). If you’d like to discover something new, there are tons of free e-book sites: here’s a great list of them.
  • Learn something new. Academic Earth has free video lectures from universities like Harvard, Yale, NYU and MIT, and the lectures range in topic from architecture and literature to international relations and law.
  • Create something. Write a short story about your snowed in experience, pull out your rusty guitar and make up a song or turn on some Motown and start dancing. With the arts and humanities, the possibilities are endless!
  • Brownie bake-off, art auction and the write stuff: Here’s a great article about three snow day activities for kids.
  • Found on Twitter: CityDance Ensemble has videos of some of their performances available on their website — join them in concert.

Have suggestions on how to spend snow days? Comment below, send us a reply on Twitter (@creativemoco) or write them on our wall!

Wondering what’s going on with AHCMC events? Read the Snow Day Edition of our News & Opportunities newsletter for a complete listing of all event rescheduling and cancellations.

Bret Primack: The Jazz Video Guy

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Roy Haynes, Bret Primack and Sonny Rollins

An NYU Film School graduate, Bret Primack began producing video for the web in 1999. His documentaries and video podcasts include Orrin Keepnews, Producer for the Concord Music Group and The Sonny Rollins Podcast for Rollins’ own Doxy Records, an ongoing documentary about the Saxophone Colossus. Read what makes the “Jazz Video Guy” tick.

What initially attracted you to Jazz music?
My Dad was a pianist who listened to big band music so I heard Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Kenton and Maynard Fergsuon quite a bit, when I was very young. But the real catalyst for my interest in Jazz was Louis Armstrong. I saw him on TV and in a movie called The Five Pennies, with Danny Kaye. Pops was so dynamic that I wanted to jump into the screen and join the parade. Eventually, I did.

When was the moment you realized you had a passion for Jazz?
My involvement with this music has been as a writer and filmmaker. I went to NYU Film School in the late 60s, where I spent my days studying with Martin Scorsese and my nights hanging with musicians in the kitchen of the Village Vanguard. After I graduated, I worked in documentaries and industrials for a few years but eventually became a Jazz Journalist for Down Beat and  JazzTimes. I wrote hundreds of articles and liner notes and happily got online in the mid-90s, helping to found the first major Jazz site, Jazz Central Station. As the Pariah, I was also the first Jazz blogger, in 1997 on my site Bird Lives. While creating websites for Sonny Rollins, Billy Taylor and Joe Lovano, I returned to filmmaking in 2005 and now, I work as the Jazz Video Guy.

I’ve never been a critic, my approach is to let musicians tell their stories. That’s what made me want to write about musicians, and create documentary films, their stories.


The Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival

Monday, February 8th, 2010

We’re all about celebrating regional artists and the talent we have in Montgomery County, and that’s why we’re particularly excited about this year’s rebirth of the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival. Over the next week, we’ll be posting a few interviews with musicians and artists who will be performing at the Festival. Here’s our first interview with Paul Carr, Music Director of the Jazz Academy of Music, who is also producing the MAJF.

Paul Carr

What initially attracted you to Jazz music?
I think what initially attached me to jazz was the sound of the instruments playing together. And even at that young age, I could hear the skill and artistry it took play to play jazz.

When was the moment you realized you had a passion and desire to learn and perform Jazz?
Probably, believe it or not before I ever started to play. J My mother  listened to jazz all the time around the house, Stanley Turrentine, Jimmy Smith, Eddie Harris, David “Fathead” Newman, were all regulars at the Carr house. She bought me one of those plastic saxophones when I was real young, so I knew going to play the saxophone when I got older.

Who are two people who were influential in your early education as a Jazz musician?
My first band director was a jazz saxophone player, Warren E. Turner, he still plays. Mr. Turner went to school with another “Texas Tenor” Billy Harper, and he would tell me stories about how much Billy would practice. Mr. Turner was a great teacher and got me started in jazz.  In high school, it was the legendary jazz educator Conrad Johnson, who also was a saxophone player and director of the Kashmere Stage. The Kashmere Stage Band was famous, the band won jazz festivals throughout Texas and also traveled abroad. There is a movie that’s  being shopped around in Hollywood right now about Conrad Johnson’s life and the Kashmere Stage Band. So being a part of that legacy is very special to me.


Why YOU’LL be missed on Arts Advocacy Day

Friday, February 5th, 2010

I don’t know about you, but there have been times in my life when I’ve thought, “No matter, no one will notice if I don’t make that event.” But on Tuesday, February 9, 2010, Maryland Arts Day, that thought could not be further from the truth.

On February 2, 2010, The Community Arts Network (CAN) noted that the Obama Administration released its FY 2011 budget request to Congress which included cuts to the NEA, NEH, IMLS and the Department of Education’s Arts in Education program. In a press statement, Americans for the Arts President & CEO Robert Lynch noted (2/1/10), “The Administration’s FY 2011 budget request of $161.3 million for the National Endowment for the Arts–while just a fraction of the $6.3 billion of direct expenditures for all arts nonprofits in the United States–is unfortunately a $6 million decrease from what Congress appropriated for FY 2010. Also, the consolidation of the Arts in Education (AIE) program within the Department of Education’s new ‘Effective Teaching and Learning for Well-Rounded Education’ category puts us at unease and could lead to a diminished focus on arts education.”

At the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, we’re worried that these federal cuts will send a message to state legislators that it’s ok to cut the budget for the arts and humanities. Our anecdotal research tells us that in 2009, many of our large organization grantees noted changes in marketing strategies, program plans and fundraising strategies to adjust to decreases in contributed and earned income from ticket sales, subscriptions, and camp programs. With one exception, all organizations we interviewed reported declines in corporate and foundation giving. Recognizing the current economic situation, organizations noted that they are focusing their energies on maintaining current relationships with funders and not spending limited staffing resources pursuing new relationships. That means that business development is slowing for these organizations and we all know that it takes much longer to grow when you slow development.

So if there has ever been a time that we’ve needed your support to send the message that it is critical to hold the line on the budget for the arts and humanities at the federal, state and local levels, that time is NOW! YOUR presence, YOUR voice, YOUR testimony is critical. Remember,  legislators are in place to serve  their constituents. Our every vote, our every voice counts.

Know that if you don’t come to Annapolis next Tuesday for Maryland Arts Day, you’ll be sorely missed.

We look forward to seeing your face in the place.

Registration for Maryland Arts Day is being handled through Maryland Citizens for the Arts. Visit their website to register:

Welcome to our blog!

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Welcome to our brand new blog! Here, you’ll find thoughts from our staff and guest bloggers on advocacy, marketing, technology, arts education, public art, leadership, community development, and grants, as well as profiles of local artists and scholars and behind-the-scenes looks at local events.

We encourage you to join the conversation and let us know what you’re thinking by posting comments. Please note that all comments are moderated. While we accept constructive criticism, this is not a forum for mean, ugly exchange — we want this to be a safe place for productive dialogue. And please, no cursing!

We hope you find this a great resource for everything arts and culture. Check back often — we have lots in store for you!