By Florence Avakian
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
NEW YORK — World famous jazz impresario George Avakian was honored at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center in a special tribute on February 18. During his more than 60-year stellar career as a music recording producer, artist manager, writer and educator, Avakian (no relation to this writer), is best known for his work with such luminaries as Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Keith Jarrett, Sonny Rollins, Dave Brubeck, John Cage, Alan Hovhaness, among many other musicians and composers. He was also instrumental in working with acclaimed concert artists violinist Anahid Ajemian (his wife), her sister pianist Maro Ajemian, and the Composers String Quartet.
From June 21 to September 24, the Lincoln Center’s Performing Arts Library will present a special exhibition titled, “Music for Moderns – The Partnership of George Avakian and Anahid Ajemian.” The exhibition will highlight their papers (1908-2012), and document their careers and lives through personal and professional correspondence, published and unpublished writings and speeches, scores, clippings, photographs, awards, posters and visual art.
On February 18, the legendary producer, now 97, sitting in a wheel chair, with a smiling and virtually wrinkle-free face, was interviewed by special guests Ricky Riccardi and David Ostwald in the Bruno Walter Auditorium, packed with his friends and admirers.
Reminiscing with charming anecdotes, Avakian revealed that for his written work on the back of his first album featuring Louis Armstrong, he was paid $10. He recalled that the legendary jazz artist told him “communication is very important,” a piece of wisdom Avakian never forgot. In the 1950s, he produced the artistry of another great, W.C. Handy, the “Father of the Blues,” and shortly after he met an unemployed Fats Waller who soon became lionized.