Chamber Music America Awards $165,550 to 15 Jazz Composers

The 2004 New Works: Creation and Presentation grants have been awarded to John Blake Jr., Cornelius Boots, Billy Childs, Jay Clayton, Marty Ehrlich, Jimmy Greene, Jeff Haas, Lenora Zenzalai Helm, Fred Ho, Vijay Iyer, Matthias Lupri, Edward Simon, Ben Waltzer, Ben Wolfe, and Peter Zak.

Grants ranging from $10,000 to $14,000 (a combined commission fee and ensemble honorarium) were awarded to the composers and their ensembles. An independent panel of jazz composers and performers reviewed more than 160 applications before making their decision.

A component of the Doris Duke Jazz Ensembles Project, the program is a partnership between Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, administered by CMA and funded by DDCF.

Now in its fifth year, CMA reports that it has given a total of 64 jazz composers “the opportunity to create new works for ensembles ranging from classic jazz trios and quartets to various wind, percussion, and string ensembles.”

Ensembles must consist of a core of musicians who perform original music that includes jazz improvisation, have a demonstrated history of performing together as a jazz ensemble, and range in size from two to ten members.

Meet the 2004 Chamber Music America New Works: Creation and Presentation grant recipients: (courtesy CMA)

John Blake Jr. and the John Blake Jr. Quartet, Philadelphia, PA
John Blake will compose a work incorporating West African and early African American fiddle styles, reflecting the influence of spirituals, work songs, blues, and modern jazz.

Cornelius Boots and Edmund Welles: The Bass Clarinet Quartet, Berkeley, CA
Cornelius Boots will create a multi-movement composition influenced by nature, geography, and literature highlighting the bass clarinet’s role in selected historical styles.

Billy Childs and His Jazz-Chamber Ensemble, Altadena, CA
Billy Childs plans a composition exploring inter-genre symbiosis through harmonic and melodic jazz material performed within European classical structures by a jazz chamber music ensemble.

Jay Clayton and the Jay Clayton Project/Outskirts, New Paltz, NY
Jay Clayton is composing a suite with pre-created electronic sounds for unaccompanied solos.

Marty Ehrlich and Marty Ehrlich’s Dark Woods Ensemble, New York, NY
Marty Ehrlich will create a multi-movement composition exploring collective improvisation within a composed framework for a core ensemble of clarinet/sax, cello, and bass, plus violin and guitar.

Jimmy Greene and the Jimmy Greene Quartet, Hartford, CT
Jimmy Greene will compose a suite based on passages of biblical text.

Jeff Haas and the Jeff Haas Quintet and Guests, Traverse City, MI
Jeff Haas is composing a work scored for tentet intertwining classical and R&B traditions with jazz rhythmic and harmonic structures.

Lenora Zenzalai Helm and The Zenzalai Project, New York, NY
Lenora Zenzalai Helm will create Journey Woman Suite, a five-part work displaying a variety of traditional and non-traditional devices compositional techniques.

Fred Ho and the Afro Asian Music Ensemble, Brooklyn, NY
Fred Ho will compose Suite Sam Furnace, named for the alto saxophonist who was a member of this ensemble for over 20 years.

Vijay Iyer and the Vijay Iyer Quartet, New York, NY
Vijay Iyer will create a suite of ten to twelve modular improvising etudes, which—while based on the same set of structured improvisational possibilities—will never be performed the same way.

Matthias Lupri and the Matthias Lupri Group, Hyde Park, MA
Matthias Lupri plans a ten-movement suite utilizing a variety of electronics and rhythms.

Edward Simon and the Edward Simon Trio, Orlando, FL
Edward Simon will write a Venezuelan jazz suite based in folk idioms (including merengue, joropo, and gaita) in the context of jazz harmony and improvisation.

Ben Waltzer and the Ben Waltzer Trio, Brooklyn, NY
Ben Waltzer is creating an extended suite for jazz piano trio juxtaposing the blues and swing within a framework of bebop, stride, ragtime, and free playing.

Ben Wolfe and the Ben Wolfe Sextet, New York, NY
Ben Wolfe plans an extended composition that goes beyond rhythmic and harmonic progressions to employ different types of improvisation.

Peter Zak and the Peter Zak Trio, New York, NY
Peter Zak is writing a set of compositions for piano, bass, and drums with a quasi-narrative structure inspired by French film director Jean-Pierre Melville.