International Association of Jazz Education Convention
IAJE 2006 in New York, NY

For the second year in a row I had the opportunity to attend the International Association of Jazz Education in New York, New York. Last year, the IAJE 2005 conference was in my home state, California, just a short drive away in Long Beach. This year, however, IAJE 2006 was held on the other side of the country, and I was able to make my first trip out to New York.

There was music everywhere throughout the convention which was based in the Sheraton New York and Hilton hotels. Every ballroom and bar at some point had a group performing and it was great to hear so much live music.

There are a few things that stood out this year at the convention in brief – full reviews are available for each of the items mentioned below:

Ark Corporation’s GB Saxophones – this new saxophone company makes very unique and incredible sounding handmade French saxophones, so incredible, in fact, that the sound they create is incomparable.

The P. Mauriat saxophones were another incredible saxophone manufacturer at the convention with beautiful looking and sounding tenors.

The new Jody Jazz DV alto mouthpiece – Jody Espina’s clever DV design was brilliant enough to work for tenor and alto saxophones (you know I bought one).

Rico Reeds had the nicest staff by far this year – if any company knows how to take care of their artists and customers, it has to be Rico.

Kurt Elling performed with Bob Mintzer’s big band so of course I have to rave about that. RAVE. I’d say more, but I’m sure you have heard me say enough about Kurt Elling.

The rows and rows of books – it was transcription book heaven and silly me, I only bought two.

A short summary:

One of the things that was really great about IAJE 2006 was that you didn’t get a lot of the cheap instruments that you get at NAMM. Almost everything available at the show was high-quality, and worth checking out. It is so nice to walk to a booth, pick up a horn and know that it is going to work and sound pretty decent. One of the things that is hard about any convention is that there is just so much noise. There are kids banging on the percussion, people playing tunes like “Blue Bossa” constantly, trumpet players that compete to play higher and louder than everyone else, and saxophone players that have this incredible technical facility and can’t help but show it off.

I only was able to check out two of the shows – the Bob Mintzer Big Band show and the Chick Corea show. Both had incredible music, one more along the lines of my own taste than the other, but both still musically educational to attend, which is the point of IAJE.

Here are a few things that I picked up at IAJE:

A gold thumb rest that I am going to have engraved with a special design that will be personal to me.

The Jody Jazz DV alto mouthpiece that I bought but have yet to play on my own horn.

Meeting Kurt Elling, Bob Mintzer, Bob Sheppard, Tom Scott, Don Braden, David Liebman, etc. and having them all sign my mouthpiece box.

Getting to go the Rico artist/employee “meet and greet” cocktail party to be introduced to all the people associated with the company and introduced for the first time as a Junior Rico Artist.

Just getting to go to New York for the first time – going to the zoo in central park and the top of the Empire State building and seeing the Statue of Liberty from the plane as I left.

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Published by Shannon Kennedy

Shannon Kennedy is a vocalist and saxophonist living in Southern California. She is author of "The Album Checklist" and the founder of Teen Jazz. She has been contributing articles to music magaizines and websites since 2004.