Jazz Makes Only a Cameo Appearance at Major Obama Inauguration Concert

Jazz is one of Barack Obama’s favorite things, according to some of the statements he’s made, in interviews with Rolling Stone and elsewhere (see my previous post).

So what happened? Was he merely giving lip service?

It looks like jazz will make only a cameo appearance at “We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration” at the Lincoln Memorial on Jan. 18. Herbie Hancock is the sole jazz artist on a list of pop/rock artists that includes some of the usual pop/rock suspects — Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Sheryl Crow, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce. Not that I’m not overjoyed to see Stevie get this kind of attention.

“The 90-minute show, which will begin at 2 p.m. and which will be shown that evening in a special free broadcast on HBO, will consist mainly of performers covering songs that have historical resonance or connect to the theme of the concert …,” according to a Washington Post report. Here’s the Billboard story on the event.

Meanwhile, I’ve not heard word of any major jazz artists appearing at the 10 official Inaugural Balls.

A CNN-sponsored Inauguration-related event at the Kennedy Center, however, will feature trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and banjo man Bela Fleck. That program, presented by Jazz at Lincoln Center, will be broadcast live on Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.

For those expecting that Obama would give a boost to jazz … this is  disappointing.

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