Jazz fans are well known for celebrating the old and the new, and 2007 was no exception. As VOA's Doug Levine reports, the year was filled with jazz tributes, including one to the man who introduced jazz to millions around the world.
More than 10 years after his death, the voice of famed VOA broadcaster Willis Conover still resonates. His 40-year stint as host of "Music USA" was the inspiration for a tribute concert beamed live from Voice of America headquarters, "Voices of Freedom: A Celebration of VOA Jazz and Willis Conover." A quintet of international jazz all stars led by saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera honored Willis with a rendition of Duke Ellington's "Take The 'A' Train."
The concert also celebrated the memory of another famous jazz ambassador, Dizzy Gillespie, and the 50th anniversary of his group's first U.S. State Department-sponsored tour.
When listeners weren't waxing nostalgic with re-issues from past masters, they were busy checking out new jazz releases. Top sellers of 2007 include albums by Michael Buble, Herbie Hancock, Boney James, Diana Krall, and the first full collaboration by George Benson and Al Jarreau.
Live jazz was, well, alive and well in '07. Despite rising fuel prices, fans came from far and wide to celebrate the year's most talked about event, the 50th anniversary of the Monterey Jazz Festival. Pianist Dave Brubeck, who helped get approval from the city of Monterey, California, to launch the very first festival in 1958, made his 14th appearance there last September. Sonny Rollins, Dave Holland, Ornette Coleman, Diana Krall, James Moody and Jim Hall were among the participants in Monterey's golden anniversary weekend.
A Monterey Jazz Festival favorite was legendary drummer Max Roach, who never failed to rise to the occasion with the biggest names in jazz. Roach was one of the last remaining architects of the "bebop" movement when he died in 2007.
The jazz world also said goodbye to saxophonist Michael Brecker, pianist Alice Coltrane, fusion pioneer Joe Zawinul, and vocalist Teresa Brewer.
Jazz was not immune to the ever-growing "crossover" trend in 2007. In fact, audiences, that these days are getting more and more accustomed to the idea of jazz blending with world music, hip-hop and other styles, seem cautiously agreeable to it.
Enter the Bruce Hornsby Trio, featuring bassist Christian McBride, drummer Jack DeJohnette and pianist Bruce Hornsby, who with their 2007 album, "Camp Meeting," made fans quickly forget that Hornsby once had a Number One pop single. The trio pays tribute to modern jazz greats Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bud Powell, Ornette Coleman and Thelonious Monk.