2018 ASCAP Jazz Awards
On February 7, ASCAP held its annual Jazz Awards celebration at Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill & Jazz club in Los Angeles. We presented the prestigious ASCAP Founders Award to pioneering creative music legend Roscoe Mitchell and the ASCAP Vanguard Award to four-time Grammy-nominated pianist-composer Gerald Clayton. The ceremony also recognized former ASCAP President Marilyn Bergman with the inaugural ASCAP President’s Award for her 30+ years of service to ASCAP’s music creators. In addition, two recipients of The ASCAP Foundation Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards, Mariel "Spencer" Austin (The ASCAP Foundation Phoebe Jacobs Prize winner) and Benjamin Barson (The ASCAP Foundation Johnny Mandel Prize winner) were recognized for their distinctive talents.
The audience of jazz notables and VIPs enjoyed exclusive performances from the honorees, alongside some of the extraordinary jazz musicians with whom they have collaborated. Mitchell was joined by his working ensemble of Matt Shipp (piano), Junius Paul (bass) and Vincent Davis (drums) for a fiery performance; Clayton played a revelatory solo piano piece; in tribute to Bergman, acclaimed vocalist Sheléa (accompanied by saxophonist Katisse Buckingham) delivered a stirring rendition of “Make Me Rainbows,” a song penned by Bergman together with her husband Alan, in collaboration with composer John Williams. Austin added to the highly charged evening with a performance that featured her impressive trombone playing throughout her original piece, while composer and baritone saxophonist Barson took center stage with vocalists Gizel Rodriguez, spiritchild and the Afro Yaqui Music Collective for even further uplift by way of a raucous, jazz-infused, genre-bending piece of his own.
All in all, the 2018 ASCAP Jazz Awards made for an unforgettable evening of music, celebrating the great music creators in jazz, past, present and future.