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Rollins And Schneider Reign At Jazz Awards

Jazz legend Sonny Rollins and big-band leader Maria Schneider each were triple winners at the Jazz Awards, but it was 90-year-old pianist Hank Jones who struck the most sentimental chord.

Rollins, 78, collected awards for musician of the year and top tenor saxophonist on Tuesday night. Rollins' "Road Shows, Vol. 1," a collection of live concert recordings from 1980 to 2007, was chosen the historical recording/reissue of the year.

Rollins' nephew, Clifton Anderson, the trombonist in the saxophonist's band, accepted the awards on his behalf.

"`Road Shows' was a great experience to work on with Sonny and if you like that, there's plenty more where that came from," Anderson told the audience at the ceremony at the Jazz Standard club.

Schneider once again won the awards for composer, arranger and large ensemble of the year in voting among the 450 members of the Jazz Journalists Association.

Jones was voted pianist of the year among a crowded field of nominees that included such distinguished veterans as Kenny Barron, Cecil Taylor, Ahmad Jamal and Keith Jarrett and newer faces like Jason Moran and Matthew Shipp. With characteristic modesty, Jones declared it "should be a group award."

"This to me is an honor and also it's a great incentive to me to do better," said Jones, who turns 91 next month. "It's not the end of things, it's the end of the beginning for me."

Jazz impresario George Wein, who began his career as a jazz pianist, acknowledged Jones in accepting the award for events producer of the year.

"He's an inspiration to all of us and maybe by the time I'm his age, I'll know a few changes that he plays on the piano," joked the 83-year-old Wein.

Wein, who stepped out of semiretirement to save the Newport Jazz Festival which he founded in 1954, acknowledged that the era has passed when he could fill festival programs with such jazz legends as Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

"But the spirit of jazz does not die when those great people die," said Wein. "The concept of young people who are adventurous and trying to do new things has to be acknowledged."

Other winners included Cassandra Wilson, Branford Marsalis, and Kurt Elling.
By Charles J. Gans

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