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mjzee

Can Jazz Be Saved?

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Who were those "jazz" fans in 1982, by the way?

Were they fans of The Crusaders, Earl Klugh and John Klemmer?

Edited by marcello

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I can't help but notice that you guys are getting off track by having side discussions of who's a better player, A or B. That's gonna help bring back the audience.....how?

I suggest it may be more helpful to discuss why tastes changed and how it impacts on the subject at hand. Ex: a more 'technical' world=popularity of more players reflecting that in their work. Can musicians' understanding of such trends help them make a living without odious compromises? It might be more productive to talk about that or similar things.

Edited by fasstrack

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I can hear some serious jazz playing being done in this context:

If there is "serious" jazz playing in that context, then

It turns out I've never been a jazz fan

OR

We have such divergent definitions of the term that it has lost all meaning

I am however willing to listen one more time to that clip if you can explain to me where the jazz playing is in that clip.

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There isn't any. I'm just saying that I can hear some being done, future tense, as in it could be done, I think it should be done, I think it will be done, and I think it will be good when it happens, if it's done by for real players with for real intentions. Otherwise, screw it.

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I think it's as simple as jazz musicians wanting to pursue avenues which don't focus on danceable rhythm and memorable melody. As artists, jazz musicians have sought to explore music in a much more intellectual context than an easily accessible, played-for-the-masses context. They have and always will create their own definition of beauty, which is totally legitimate in terms of artistic expression. However, where once the highest creations of their art aligned with the interests of the general populace, increasingly their interests have only aligned with the serious listener which is obviously a much more narrow market.

At the same time the popular music interests of the general populace have increasingly splintered in their own right, coinciding with the means by which people listen to music. Pop radio stations have become the exclusive territory of a very particular dance club sound, where as recently as the early 90s there was more variety. Satellite radio stations enable listeners to completely focus their listening on their favorite genre, without even so much as a commercial interruption. iPods and mp3s are loaded up for free with only favorite songs sans deviation. American Idol has made music into a karaoke contest and snagged the listeners who really only dig singing anyway (common phenomenon) and made its own "stars" as popular as television sitcoms (with practically the same audience, methinks), eliminating the need to come up with hit songs that stand up on their own right (video killed the radio star)...

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There isn't any. I'm just saying that I can hear some being done, future tense, as in it could be done, I think it should be done, I think it will be done, and I think it will be good when it happens, if it's done by for real players with for real intentions. Otherwise, screw it.

Sorry, I interpreted "being" as present tense, its being done within the grooves of this here recording.

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However, where once the highest creations of their art aligned with the interests of the general populace, increasingly their interests have only aligned with the serious listener which is obviously a much more narrow market.

Not sure I understand how "content" = "serious listener" except as a coincidental overlap... that's kinda like stipulating up fronthat unless you're a "serious lsitener" that "this is not for you", and I'm not sure that anybody could or should do that, except as a marketing tactic...

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As artists, jazz musicians have sought to explore music in a much more intellectual context than an easily accessible, played-for-the-masses context. They
I really disagree with this. And history also disproves it, since until the 40s jazz musicians were considered entertainers, or worse, black entertainers, by white society----and that mindset is very difficult to break when one is trying to survive. It's a tribute to the geniuses that did do their thing and moved music forward that they could do it in the context of work. It's an uphill battle, and even dangerous career-wise, or, back then, even survival-wise.

I have a recording of a concert I played where I asked Eddie Locke to talk about the meaning of jazz to the young people there who were ignorant of it. He made a huge point of the social aspects of the music and its' function as dance music, and said verbatim 'once in the night there would be a little time called 'hot time', where they would play solos like we're doing tonight'. And he played with some of the great soloists. They had discipline and knew what a gig required. I'm sorry, but to think anything else is simply naive. I think perhaps a better way to put this might be 'when they got together in places like Mintons or privately they exchanged ideas they couldn't get at on the commercial gig'.

Also, music is a science of sound, so musicians listen and incorporate the best in all the sounds around. If you're really listening there are inspirations all around, whether its a dance or a concert setting. You listen, make mental notes and react. maybe a tune or improvisational idea will come out of it. Or maybe if an artist is sensitive enough something visual can be translated into sound and music. This is why we talk about 'color' and things like that in music.

Edited by fasstrack

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"Serious listener" is unintentionally complimentary, when what I meant by it is the listeners who are looking to listen for the latest cutting edge development in jazz as an art form--as opposed to the listener whose interests are not dedicated to that and who just want to hear catchy tunes. I agree it's wrong to imply that taste determines "seriousness," but I'll stand by the idea that the pursuit of jazz musicians has increasingly alienated more and more of the general listening audience.

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I was in college and grad school in the 1970s and early 1980s, and jazz was "cool" to young people then. The much-ridiculed fusion music of the 1970s created a genuine bridge from rock music, and many crossed over--it was common to see Genesis, Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck, Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra albums in the same dorm room. I was part of crowds of young people who went to Weather Report concerts together--not because it was going to be culturally edifying, but because it was going to be FUN.

Some percentage of those listeners also checked out acoustic jazz--Dexter Gordon would sell out the 2,000 seat Hill Auditorium at the University of Michigan, for example.

In the 1980s, 1990s and through today, jazz became not "cool" to younger people. I blame the "Jazz Is America's Classical Music" crowd, which seems to be mostly people in their 50s and 60s who will have government subsidized jobs putting on government subsidized jazz concerts if they can sell that idea. To young people, "Jazz Is America's Classical Music" is like "Take Castor Oil, It's Good For You."

I have seen two instances in which jazz was briefly "cool" for young people. One was in the already mentioned neo-swing craze. I saw a large audience of young people turn out for Illinois Jacquet's big band in those years, excited to dance. Then Jacquet turned in such a sleepy performance that the youngsters went away disappointed.

The other was when certain jazz artists hooked up with the jam band movement. Many Phish fans came out for Medeski, Martin & Wood in a park, and then MMW played a Cecil Taylor-like set that drove them away.

Young people want to have fun. For some of them, fun is listening to something with a degree of complexity, but it still has to be fun.

Edited by Hot Ptah

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once again, jazz is was it is, and attempts to make it palatable, mass, friendly, nice, good, easy, et al will always have limited success (where is our Leonard Bernstein? At least he was open to the odd and different, even in jazz; see John LaPorta's autobiography) -

the only way to do anything about it is to take the audience that's there, and make it more there. Create national (no, international) networks that are truly cooperative, places to work, and make them accessible to each other, don't sit on a gig or a venue.

And allow everyone in, from Dixielanders to new music-ites. Don't factionalize, organize. And don't be afraid of musicians who have their feet in several musical camps.

Anything else is the sos -

Edited by AllenLowe

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I was in college and grad school in the 1970s and early 1980s, and jazz was "cool" to young people then. The much-ridiculed fusion music of the 1970s created a genuine bridge from rock music, and many crossed over--it was common to see Genesis, Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck, Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra albums in the same dorm room. I was part of crowds of young people who went to Weather Report concerts together--not because it was going to be culturally edifying, but because it was going to be FUN.

Some percentage of those listeners also checked out acoustic jazz--Dexter Gordon would sell out the 2,000 seat Hill Auditorium at the University of Michigan, for example.

In the 1980s, 1990s and through today, jazz became not "cool" to younger people. I blame the "Jazz Is America's Classical Music" crowd, which seems to be mostly people in their 50s and 60s who will have government subsidized jobs putting on government subsidized jazz concerts if they can sell that idea. To young people, "Jazz Is America's Classical Music" is like "Take Castor Oil, It's Good For You."

I have seen two instances in which jazz was briefly "cool" for young people. One was in the already mentioned neo-swing craze. I saw a large audience of young people turn out for Illinois Jacquet's big band in those years, excited to dance. Then Jacquet turned in such a sleepy performance that the youngsters went away disappointed.

The other was when certain jazz artists hooked up with the jam band movement. Many Phish fans came out for Medeski, Martin & Wood in a park, and then MMW played a Cecil Taylor-like set that drove them away.

Young people want to have fun. For some of them, fun is listening to something with a degree of complexity, but it still has to be fun.

Very good points very well made :tup Edited by fasstrack

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Terry Teachout wrote for the Kansas City Star before making it big nationally. I distinctly remember his review of Chick Corea's ECM album "Trio Music" in the early 1980s (with Miroslav Vitous and Roy Haynes). He praised it highly, stating that it was music not meant for dancing or partying, that it was music to LISTEN seriously to--which to him was the highest praise at the time.

So he helped create the problem, in a small way, that he is now criticizing.

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See, I don't see where, how, and why dancing, partying, and LISTENING are of necessity mutally exclusive...never have, really.

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Yeah.

I remember being stared at/stared down while bobbing my head and nearly out of my chair at a Steve Lacy gig. I mean, yeah, I probably looked like I was having a seizure but still - who cares whether you look smooth while grooving?

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See, I don't see where, how, and why dancing, partying, and LISTENING are of necessity mutally exclusive...never have, really.

However, Chick Corea's "Trio Music" album on ECM does create a mutually exclusive situation. If you can dance or party to that album, you can dance and party to Gregorian chant.

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In the 1980s, 1990s and through today, jazz became not "cool" to younger people. I blame the "Jazz Is America's Classical Music" crowd, which seems to be mostly people in their 50s and 60s who will have government subsidized jobs putting on government subsidized jazz concerts if they can sell that idea. To young people, "Jazz Is America's Classical Music" is like "Take Castor Oil, It's Good For You."

I agree, except not just to young people. Anything that needs to be "preserved" is obviously already dead. And if that great spokesman of jazz, Wynton F. Marsalis says it needs to be preserved, who are we to argue?

I dunno; my feeling is that jazz is, indeed, dead, but it's offspring are doing great, interesting things...

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As artists, jazz musicians have sought to explore music in a much more intellectual context than an easily accessible, played-for-the-masses context. They
I really disagree with this. And history also disproves it, since until the 40s jazz musicians were considered entertainers, or worse, black entertainers, by white society----and that mindset is very difficult to break when one is trying to survive. It's a tribute to the geniuses that did do their thing and moved music forward that they could do it in the context of work. It's an uphill battle, and even dangerous career-wise, or, back then, even survival-wise.

I have a recording of a concert I played where I asked Eddie Locke to talk about the meaning of jazz to the young people there who were ignorant of it. He made a huge point of the social aspects of the music and its' function as dance music, and said verbatim 'once in the night there would be a little time called 'hot time', where they would play solos like we're doing tonight'. And he played with some of the great soloists. They had discipline and knew what a gig required. I'm sorry, but to think anything else is simply naive. I think perhaps a better way to put this might be 'when they got together in places like Mintons or privately they exchanged ideas they couldn't get at on the commercial gig'.

Here's Lou Donaldson, from that NY Times profile (found here):

"Today, at 82, he remains a leading exponent of this soul-jazz approach. But even at its bluesiest, his playing remains informed by bebop. If the economics allowed it, he said, he would delve more into the bop canon.

“I’d like to be playing that every night,” he said. “But unfortunately, that’s not the case today.” At most of his outdoor concerts, he said, the audience demands his soul-jazz favorites — and he delivers. Those favorites, he said, will figure prominently on Aug. 18, when he brings his quartet to Mount Vernon for a free set, produced by Jazz Forum Arts and Jazzmobile, in City Hall Plaza."

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See, I don't see where, how, and why dancing, partying, and LISTENING are of necessity mutally exclusive...never have, really.

However, Chick Corea's "Trio Music" album on ECM does create a mutually exclusive situation. If you can dance or party to that album, you can dance and party to Gregorian chant.

I respectfully disagree, at least as far as the Monk par of the album goes, which the part I listen to, totally dancable IIRC...thin I'll go listen, and dance, now.

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when I play I don't want people dancing - I don't go to where they're working and start shakin' it -

I actually think the whole dance/dj thing is just another musical dead end - like a bunch of lemmings headed to the sea -

somehow this whole thing brings to mind a discussion I recently had with someone about what's hip - in the old days the hipster was the ultimate outside - today he/she's the ultimate insider. This kind of thing leads to mass conformity (today known as 10,000 people on a dance floor; such behavior leads to Republicanism; look at all the old 1960s hippie dancers who voted for Bush).

by the way, none of the above, as well as my previous comments on this topic, is intended less than seriously. I think much of this whole discussion is missing the point, which only Larry kart seems to have grasped.

nothing wrong with dance music - it just ain't jazz anymore - different animal - it's fine for making a living but has real limitations, I think, as music. Which is also fine - but the loss of the jazz audience is not a time for Kenny G, but instead for Max Roach -

Edited by AllenLowe

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Vertical Max Roach or Horizontal Max Roach?

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And FWIW, I've had some profoundly great times playing for dancers as well as some profoundly drinkable ones....but the great ones are ones I'd not trade for anything,

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when I play I don't want people dancing - I don't go to where they're working and start shakin' it -

So,,,you're saying that you want people to leave home, spend money, and just sit there and watch you work?

Gee, when you put it that way, it's a miracle anybody goes out! :g

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... And I think that not willing to let go of (or at least give the sentry at the gate a nice retirement party) the "musical style" is what's stunted waaaaay too much of American Jazz.

But it's so good, man. It's all I need, and it's still around, thank God.

Q

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"Gee, when you put it that way, it's a miracle anybody goes out"

they should stay home, as this separates the wheat from the chaff...

Max, despite his foibles, always had a strong sense of jazz's essential dignity, both horizontal and vertical.

I just think you can't make consistently deep music for dancers; you can make some deep music, but it ends up as a loop. And most dancers are lousy dancers anyway, so what's the point?

as Lee Konitz once said, "I save my serious playing for Europe."

Edited by AllenLowe

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