Good and bad news: MN Orchestra, new singer’s debut, Down Beat poll results


Planning your holiday entertainment? Wondering about young African American female singers on the rise? Want to get caught up on Down Beat’s Reader’s Poll results? No problem.


MN Orchestra labor dispute bad news for jazz lovers

Well, first of all, you may not have heard, but the Minnesota Orchestral Association (MOA) has cancelled or rescheduled concerts until next season.

Citing “Musicians’ failure to put forward a counterproposal prompts further changes to concert schedule” in a press release dated November 8, the organization also explained that six December programs are cancelled and five programs will be rescheduled for the 2013 holiday season.

2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition winner Cécile McLorin Salvant’s debut album will be released by Mack Avenue next year.
Photo courtesy of JP Dodel Photography

Cancelled or rescheduled concert performances were to run from Friday, November 30 through Sunday, December 23. However, contract talks with its musicians are now at a standstill, and the union has not yet submitted a counterproposal.

All ticket holders impacted by the changing concerts dates are being contacted and offered a variety of alterative ticket options including the opportunity to exchange tickets for a future concert or receive a refund.

Specifically, jazz concertgoers will want to take note that the upcoming “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” concert with Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Orchestra and the MOA previously scheduled for December 8 was cancelled. And the Chris Botti Christmas concert, which was slated for December 14, has now been rescheduled during the MOA’s 2013 holiday season with the new date November 13, 2013.

“We are very disappointed that we are no closer to an agreement today than we were in April,” said Minnesota Orchestra Board Chair Jon Campbell in the press release. “In consideration of the needs of audiences, guest artists and our performance venue to make alternate plans for the holiday season, we feel we have no choice but to cancel performances through December 23. We make this decision with heavy hearts, and once again ask our musicians to return to the negotiating table with a substantive proposal so our concert schedule can resume as soon as possible.”

Contract talks between the MOA and its musicians, who are members of the Twin Cities Musicians’ Union (Local 30-73), began on April 12.

Also according to MOA press release, the MOA’s final proposal offers a total package averaging $119,000, including an average salary of $89,000 with $30,000 in benefits per musician. The proposal also includes 10 weeks of paid vacation and up to 26 weeks of paid sick leave. Musicians have never put forward a counterproposal, but have instead called for the board to submit to binding arbitration, to conduct an independent financial audit, or to engage in “pay and play.”

Minnesota Orchestral Association Ticket Services representatives will be available to assist with cancelled/rescheduled ticket accommodations via phone at 612-371-5656. To save time, ticket holders are encouraged to conducting ticketing activity online at


Good news: Cécile McLorin Salvant

Mack Avenue Records has signed 23-year-old winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition Cécile McLorin Salvant. The Miami native impressed judges Patti Austin, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, Al Jarreau and Dianne Reeves.

Her forthcoming debut album, Woman Child, will feature label mates Aaron Diehl and Rodney Whitaker (Diehl’s Mack Avenue debut is set for February 19 release) as well as Herlin Riley and James Chirillo. Woman Child will be released next year.


Down Beat Reader’s Poll

Also, in related Mack Avenue Records news, congrats to the 2012 Down Beat Reader’s Poll winners bassist Christian McBride, alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett and vibist Gary Burton.

It’s always intriguing to find out about the poll winners, although perhaps some may be overrated. So, who were the losers? Who didn’t quite make the cut? Aren’t you curious? Sure, we read about them in current jazz news, and know they can hold their own, yet those same artists consistently go unnoticed. Who are they? What are they up to? More importantly, why do they keep missing the mark?

That goes for the Down Beat Critic’s Poll, too. Is it time for a winning campaign strategy to secure more votes? I want to hear from the perhaps underrated artists.

Then again, with Thanksgiving near maybe it’s probably a good idea just to be thankful for being acknowledged by the polls and having the entertainment options that we do have at present, at the same time knowing even more compelling options are on the way.


Robin James welcomes reader responses to


One Comment on “Good and bad news: MN Orchestra, new singer’s debut, Down Beat poll results”

  1. You are absolutely right: This ongoing lockout has a chilling effect on the Twin Cities’ arts community. What a terrible situation to be in during the holidays!

    Management has an obvious interest in placing the burden of the cancelled season on the shoulders of the musicians, but it is management who locked them out, refused their offers of play-and-talk, refused binding arbitration…and most importantly, will not provide an independent financial analysis. A deeper understanding of the conflict can be found here:

    (I might add, it is also management who continues to draw salary during this time, not players.)

    Thanks for highlighting this story… Happy Thanksgiving!

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