Blog # 50: ASCAP Awards
Monday I went to the ASCAP awards, I was invited because I was one of the people that won an 'ASCAP 2010 Young Jazz Composers Award' earlier this year. The event was held at ASCAP's main office in manhattan and there were a bunch of great performances along with the actual awards. Phil Woods and Donald Fagen were given the 'living legends' award and Dina Washington, Eddie Lang and Thelonious Monk were inducted into the ASCAP jazz hall of fame. There were also performances by Erica Von Kleist, Julian Lage, Phil Woods, John Hollenbeck and Claudia Quintet, Bill Charlap, Jay Leonhardt, Jaleel Shaw, Jonathan Blake, Donald Fagen, Adam Rogers and Fred Hersh.
I enjoyed the event, especially the performances(my favorite was Hollenbeck's), which made the whole thing worth the awkwardness I felt at the reception before(I'm not very good at small talk or striking up conversations with strangers, nor did I want to get into the 'name dropping fame game'): "Hi I'm Jon Crowley, I play with ____, ______, and _____ ". I'd much prefer to just like my trumpet playing do the talking.
Lastly, I'll share a funny moment I observed while playing 'Wall flower' at the reception. Another one of the 'Young jazz composer..' winners(who looked about 17 years old), approached one of the famous musicians listed above. Their interaction went as follows:
Kid: Hi, Its nice to meet you, i'm _____ . I really like your playing and am a big fan
Famous Jazz Guy: Oh, thanks [disinterested]
Kid: I study with ____, and _____, and _____ . I saw you play at the festival a few years ago. It was awesome
Famous Jazz Guy: [no verbal response or eye contact, looks around the room]
Kid: I also saw you play at the vangaurd last year with ____ .
Famous Jazz Guy: [no verbal response, walks away]
Thinking back, one thing that's very strange about jazz is that you listen to people on record for so long. You study them and you know them so well from their recordings and then you meet or play with them and find out about their personalities. Sometimes you might find out that your hero is an asshole. Its a funny thing. Other times people surprise you in a great way. I played with John Scofield when I was at NYU and he was the nicest, most down-to-earth guy you'd ever meet. I thought before meeting him that he would have a 'rockstar' attitude, but he was incredibly friendly, humble and even took the time to learn all of our names(I even bumped into him a year later and he still knew my name; great guy.) I could go one about other famous jazz guys that I've played with that are the friendliest people around, but I'm not playing the 'name dropping fame game'. It is a weird phenomenon to make friends with someone you listened to for years on CDs.