The nominees for the Jazz Journalists Association's 2008 Jazz Awards have been announced. And I'm both proud and surprised to have been nominated in the Jazz Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award category.
"Proud" because the recognition comes from associates and colleagues who deal with the same problems and fight the same battles that I do in our mutual quest to acknowledge the importance of America's greatest musical contribution to the world. "Surprised" because I've been working on the West coast for the past thirty years (two thirds of that time at the Los Angeles Times), away from the East Coast jazz mainstream. It's true that I was busily active in New York in the '60s and '70s, covering pop music for the New York Times, writing a column for the Village Voice, doing dozens of articles for Down Beat, Metronome, the Jazz Review, etc., and writing liner notes for the likes of Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson and Andrew Hill. But that was a long time ago.
And the truth is that I'm delighted to be acknowledged with a nomination, especially in a category that also includes Stanley Crouch, Doug Ramsey, Larry Kart and Alyn Shipton. I was talking to Herbie Hancock last week about his reaction when his album, "River: The Joni Letters" was nominated for a Grammy Album of the Year award. And we both agreed that the standard line -- "Oh, I'm just happy to be nominated" -- may sound like emotional boilerplate, but the funny thing is that it's really true.
Of course, Herbie then began to chant three hours a day, and wound winning the award. I don't expect to be doing many "nam myoho renge kyos " over this. And of course I'll be thrilled if the award makes its way out to the Left Coast.
But either way, it's been, as I said, a proud surprise.
Here's the Jazz Journalists Association address for the full list of nominees: