For lifer jazz fans, any time is the right time to visit N.Y.C.,
the once and always jazz Mecca, no matter what hopeful “out of
town” cities claim. The lure intensifies when IAJE comes to town,
as it did last week. This innocent acronym —  International
Association for Jazz Education — is increasingly becoming a looming
force on the jazz calendar. Its annual January confabs are not just
for educators anymore, but anyone with a strong connection to the

You know you’re at IAJE when visionary big-band leader Maria
Schneider, a bit harried but ever-polite, approaches you in the
Hilton lobby and says, “Where do you get those badges?” You do need
stinking badges at IAJE, whose ranks of visitors continue to swell.
Later that night (after midnight, actually), Schneider led her
visionary band before an SRO house in a Sheraton ballroom. The next
night, the conference’s traditional focus on big-band culture hit
another high when the German WDR Big Band Köln — one of the world’s
finest — presented the program Djangology, featuring the
ridiculously cool and dexterous guitarist Biréli Lagrène (who
recently blew the roof off of Campbell Hall).

Speaking of Campbell Hall, Chick Corea — whose UCSB show on
February 7 will be a must-hear — was toasted as one of several NEA
Jazz Masters, also performed twice at the conference. One of the
enlightening performances on the fringes was by Benin-born
guitarist Lionel Lueke and trio. Lueke, who gained some exposure in
Terrence Blanchard’s band, is one of the most exciting new voices
in jazz guitar, just as his special guest, the dynamic chromatic
harmonica wizard Grégoire Maret, gives new energy and vision to his
instrument (Maret also played Campbell Hall, with Cassandra

Mini-walking tour suggestion: Visit the year-old Jazz @ Lincoln
Center compound, on the fifth floor of the new Time Warner behemoth
at Columbus Circle, head up Eighth Avenue and prepare to gasp
before the sight of the newly-completed addition to the Hearst
Building. Sir Norman Foster has created a surreal,
triangle-oriented edifice atop the historic structure, perfectly
encapsulating N.Y.C.’s paradoxical blend of deep history and


Terrence Malick is now officially America’s greatest living
director, at least in terms of batting average. With his latest
masterpiece, The New World, Malick has now made four films in
30-odd years — Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line, and the
new one — each a classic on its own terms, as well as examples of a
unified artistic path. Malick has a bold sense of personalized
cinematic poetry, not necessarily heeding the idea that film is
enslaved by values from theater and literature, a moldy notion.

Rather, Malick’s film theory purports that film is a medium with
intrinsic sensory powers, suited to create fluid relationships of
sight and sound, conspiring toward powerful-yet-hard-to-define new
dimensions. In The New World, certainly the finest film released in
the past year, Malick expands on and seductively poeticizes the
Pocahontas tale, along the way giving us a sense of you-are-there
nature and historical veracity that pulls us out of the

Among other things, The New World again shows Malick’s skill in
blending imagery and music. In The Thin Red Line, the director
ingeniously dropped Charles Ives’s “Unanswered Question” in the
central, chaotic battle scene. In The New World, we hear the
sweeping, ambivalently hope-filled sound of Wagner’s Das Reingold
overture, which becomes a framing device on either side of the
drama. See The New World and get thee to a new world, of Malick’s
brilliant devising.


One of the more unconventional and refreshing acts in the Sings
like Hell series was last month’s opening-act show by L.A.’s
Listing Ship, steering far to the left of the usual guitar-driven,
post-Dylan song spiel. This Saturday’s headliner, Po’ Girl, is
another entry from the offbeat path. Folk, jazz, rap, banjo,
violin, and clarinet are stirred into a pleasing eclectic and
heartfelt sonic brew. (Got e?


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