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Perhaps Not Surprising (Jazz Has Become The Least-Popular Genre In The

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I could not disagree more, Paul. Everywhere you go you see people with earbuds in. Everywhere. What do you think they're doing? Learning a foreign language?

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Jazz and classical. Two musics whose primary narrative is how great things used to be.

Really surprising interest is limited.

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I could not disagree more, Paul. Everywhere you go you see people with earbuds in. Everywhere. What do you think they're doing? Learning a foreign language?

Probably listening to stuff that numbs their brains and senses so they don't have to feel or think.

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I could not disagree more, Paul. Everywhere you go you see people with earbuds in. Everywhere. What do you think they're doing? Learning a foreign language?

Probably listening to stuff that numbs their brains and senses so they don't have to feel or think.

I have my earbuds in at the moment and I'm listening to Charlie Parker. ^_^

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C'mon, Paul. That's just elitist snobbery, and you know it.

That kind of placing yourself above the rest is one of the main reasons people avoid genres like Jazz.

If an artist has something to say, it doesn't matter what instrument or genre they choose.

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C'mon, Paul. That's just elitist snobbery, and you know it.

That kind of placing yourself above the rest is one of the main reasons people avoid genres like Jazz.

If an artist has something to say, it doesn't matter what instrument or genre they choose.

Jazz might have a reputation for elitist snobbery, but I believe people avoid the genre because they are genuinely not interested. It often upsets them.

The majority of people like either sentimental popular(ized) garbage, or knuckle-dragging electronic beats. Philistines.

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Klezmer?

Klezmer what?

Is a less popular genre than jazz?

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Jazz is a language which was once generally known, but is now known only by a few elderly survivors from an earlier era. The general public react to it as they do to other languages they don't know - with incomprehension, bewilderment and annoyance. Recently scholars have take an interest in this language and it will undoubtedly be preserved in academe and even learnt by a few scholar musicians in the future.

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Has anyone stopped to consider that Jazz possibly reached its apotheosis half of a century ago? Once you turn the Free Jazz corner, that's pretty much your encore performance. Isn't it?

Another way I also look at it is that really, who cares how popular it is now? There is so much incredible Jazz music already documented that it would take any new fan a lifetime to hear it all.

I mean, must of us here are in our 40's and older. Does anyone here own every Jazz recording ever made? Have they even HEARD every Jazz recording ever made?

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I wouldn't write it off yet.

So, it's no longer a 'popular' music. But even out in the sticks where I live I could, if I wanted, travel 15-30 miles and hear a jazz concert of some sort at least once a week.

I don't know about anywhere else but there seems to be a never-ending stream of young, vibrant jazz players playing live and releasing records (or CDs...or downloads...) in the UK. Are they as good as the ever-worshipped 'Masters'? No idea. I can see why people who grew up in the age(s) when jazz was more dominant in the musical culture might want to stick with their memories there (as I'm content to stick with my rock memories of the 70s). But in general I'm happy to take newly played/released etc music on its own merits rather than endlessly compare it to the past in order to find it wanting.

It's never going to be what it once was - the pioneering days are over, Lewis and Clark have passed on; but I hear plenty to keep me interested. I think there is scope for interest to grow. But as long as the dominant jazz narrative fixates solely on its glorious past (and that past is glorious) it isn't going to interest most people. Most younger to early middle-aged people (with the exception of a few 'young fogies' who adopt the prejudices of older people and confuse it with wisdom) are interested in today and tomorrow. I'd say that is far more natural than lamenting over lost bygone ages.

The past is a place to learn from; its not a place to live in.

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My pal Travis is fired up to see Open Loose on April 25th.

When it comes down to it, Bev is correct - it's a false narrative.

The actual music being played (at least the sort of current jazz I'm most interested in) can be astounding, exciting, original, innovative or all of the above.

What is missing is many jazz fans don't see enough live jazz to realize the vibrancy of the current music and musicians.

So what if it is played in small rooms. Well of course it would be nice - but pretty sad jazz listeners don't take advantage to see great bands/musicians playing in small rooms. Then they would play more often and in larger rooms.

Don't give me the $$ angle. We have listeners here paying fortunes building collections of music from the past who rarely support the music where it lives and where is best heard - up close and personal in live settings

Giants Walk this Earth

Get Ready to Receive Yourself

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Has anyone stopped to consider that Jazz possibly reached its apotheosis half of a century ago? Once you turn the Free Jazz corner, that's pretty much your encore performance. Isn't it?

Another way I also look at it is that really, who cares how popular it is now? There is so much incredible Jazz music already documented that it would take any new fan a lifetime to hear it all.

I mean, must of us here are in our 40's and older. Does anyone here own every Jazz recording ever made? Have they even HEARD every Jazz recording ever made?

:tup

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Most younger to early middle-aged people (with the exception of a few 'young fogies' who adopt the prejudices of older people and confuse it with wisdom) are interested in today and tomorrow. I'd say that is far more natural than lamenting over lost bygone ages.

Without question THE best comment in this entire thread. And the part I bolded is a serious finger in the eye to those who have made some self-aggrandizing statements here. Paul, I love you, brother. But the statements you and erwbol have made in this thread are just…wrong.

Don't give me the $$ angle. We have listeners here paying fortunes building collections of music from the past who rarely support the music where it lives and where is best heard - up close and personal in live settings

And. There. We. Have. It.

Whether you agree with Steve or not, the cat constantly puts his money where his mouth is.

Everyone else here, myself included in certain ways, has simply become an extension of the Marsalis/Crouch/Burns lineage when we simply bemoan the fact that an art form we no longer actively support has died. Or at least has become terribly unpopular.

BTW, both statements I bolded present a pretty sad continuum. If you truly wonder why Jazz has come to such a "sorry state", then read those two bolded statements over and over.

Edited by Scott Dolan

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When I go to something like the Winter Jazz Fest on an arctic weekend in New YOrk City with 5,500 other people, cramming clubs across Greenwich Village, it's hard to believe that jazz is dead, or even ill.

When I go to an Anthony Braxton concert at a sold-out Roulette in Brooklyn, it's hard to believe people don't have an interest in avant music. Even his Trillium opera performances sold out.

There's clearly an appetite for smart new music and smart new ways of hearing it.

America's a Mass Cult and Mid Cult nation (check out Dwight MacDonald for that discussion), but it's so damn big and diverse, smaller forms (relatively speaking) can live and even thrive: jazz, poetry, progressive dance and theater, etc. There are things that need to be done (another discussion really), here I'll just cite a need to restore access to radio programs, arts and music education in schools, and more public performances.

I can't think about whether jazz is dead simply by the numbers, only by the degree of life it has in itself.

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…I'll just cite a need to restore access to radio programs, arts and music education in schools, and more public performances.

And we have a winner!

Once Jazz started to decline on radio, it became less popular. Good lord, folks! What makes "popular" music popular?!

BTW, just wanted to expand on one more thing The Preacher said above:

We have listeners here paying fortunes building collections of music from the past...

…many of which they already own copies of.

That's an incredibly important aspect of this conversation that needs to be addressed. Remaster this, reissue that, SHM release, HDTracks, blah, blah, blah...

And all of that has to do with contemporary artists? Fuck no. Not even some of it.

Yet those threads are plentiful here, and end up being many pages long. How many threads do we see here concerning modern day artists? And when we do, how quickly do they fall out of sight? Fredrik Kronkvist, J.D. Allen…Branford Fucking Marsalis, for christ's sake! Willie Parker's band-o-buddies. Mary Halvorson's circle of friends. Zorn! Lots of current, and touring/performing artists. Yet, you barely hear a peep concerning them.

If you want to decode the mystery of the OP, perhaps a quick look in the mirror would be a great place to start.

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Over the past fifteen years or so, I've put my butt in as many or more seats in Chicago venues that presented the music of the local avant-garde scene than I did in any club or concert seats when I was reviewing jazz performances regularly for the Chicago Tribune from the late '70s to the late '80s and in all the years before that, from the time I could get into places that sold alcohol. But in the last several years (I'm now 72) my attendance has dropped off a good deal -- in part because I've remarried and have a 13-year-old stepdaughter, which means that my wife wakes up at 6:45 a.m. to drive her to school, which means that I pretty much wake up at the same time, which makes staying up late the night before less attractive; in part because it seems like the very yeasty Chicago AG scene began to get a bit less yeasty about the time my attendance began to fall off; in part because my favorite venue folded and one of the chief newer ones doesn't feel that comfortable to me (the folded favorite one was the most comfortable place, physically and terms of atmosphere, that I've ever listened to music). I should add that I don't like to go to the chief local mainstream venue for the lack of a comfortable atmosphere reason; also there just aren't many people who play there that I have a strong desire to see these days. Benny Golson, for example, would be an exception; venerable he is but still fervently creative. Not to insult his memory, but in the latter portion of his career I had no desire to catch, say, Clark Terry because I felt I'd already heard most everything he was going to play.

Sorry if I'm being too discursive, but perhaps my behavior and feelings are indicative of some aspect of the lay of the land. I would say that my general stance -- details of age and second-marriage life taken into account -- is that basically I want to hear NEW music: either music that's stylistically novel in the sense that part of the pleasure it gives me, when it's good, is the pleasure of figuring out the novel what and how of what is being said, or music that is stylistically familiar to me but still feels like it's being made "in the now" (Golson or Lee Konitz might be good examples). If the music isn't new in one of those two senses, I'm not that interested anymore.

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Larry, I hear all of that loud and clear.

I'm pretty sure I mentioned this in another thread, but my purchasing/consumption of music has dwindled over the years as I find less and less music to truly invigorate/excite me. Not that that validates Paul's earlier claim that music is dying in general, but folks like us who post on this site have heard far more music than the average listener. And we've likely ventured into the outer limits, no matter the genre.

Most haven't. And I actually envy them.

But, these worn and jaded ears betray me.

Either way, I think you and I are somewhat in the same boat.

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I don't know if this is important, but jazz doesn't have any young stars today, does it?

Guys like Roy Haynes and Sonny Rollins were getting noticed when they were about 20. I remember my first copy of Down Beat - June of '67, I think. Larry Coryell with his long hair was on the cover.

I think that the record companies had the right idea twenty years ago when they were promoting the Young Lions. It gave the appearance that there was a scene, that things were happening.

I'm not aware of anything like that today. No scene, no fun.

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Over the past fifteen years or so, I've put my butt in as many or more seats in Chicago venues that presented the music of the local avant-garde scene than I did in any club or concert seats when I was reviewing jazz performances regularly for the Chicago Tribune from the late '70s to the late '80s and in all the years before that, from the time I could get into places that sold alcohol. But in the last several years (I'm now 72) my attendance has dropped off a good deal -- in part because I've remarried and have a 13-year-old stepdaughter, which means that my wife wakes up at 6:45 a.m. to drive her to school, which means that I pretty much wake up at the same time, which makes staying up late the night before less attractive; in part because it seems like the very yeasty Chicago AG scene began to get a bit less yeasty about the time my attendance began to fall off; in part because my favorite venue folded and one of the chief newer ones doesn't feel that comfortable to me (the folded favorite one was the most comfortable place, physically and terms of atmosphere, that I've ever listened to music). I should add that I don't like to go to the chief local mainstream venue for the lack of a comfortable atmosphere reason; also there just aren't many people who play there that I have a strong desire to see these days. Benny Golson, for example, would be an exception; venerable he is but still fervently creative. Not to insult his memory, but in the latter portion of his career I had no desire to catch, say, Clark Terry because I felt I'd already heard most everything he was going to play.

Sorry if I'm being too discursive, but perhaps my behavior and feelings are indicative of some aspect of the lay of the land. I would say that my general stance -- details of age and second-marriage life taken into account -- is that basically I want to hear NEW music: either music that's stylistically novel in the sense that part of the pleasure it gives me, when it's good, is the pleasure of figuring out the novel what and how of what is being said, or music that is stylistically familiar to me but still feels like it's being made "in the now" (Golson or Lee Konitz might be good examples). If the music isn't new in one of those two senses, I'm not that interested anymore.

Not sure I can afford a doctor to interpret this for me.

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I think one of the ironic reasons that jazz is fading is that there are too many effin' musicians playing to much forgettable music.The market is flooded and so much of what we hear is mediocre that the good stuff is lost in the noise.

I really wish there was more focus to the work and more time was taken in production (yeah I know I've put out 9 CDs since 2007 and have about 6 more projects I am working on, but that's different because, uh.....well, because I said so).

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Over the past fifteen years or so, I've put my butt in as many or more seats in Chicago venues that presented the music of the local avant-garde scene than I did in any club or concert seats when I was reviewing jazz performances regularly for the Chicago Tribune from the late '70s to the late '80s and in all the years before that, from the time I could get into places that sold alcohol. But in the last several years (I'm now 72) my attendance has dropped off a good deal -- in part because I've remarried and have a 13-year-old stepdaughter, which means that my wife wakes up at 6:45 a.m. to drive her to school, which means that I pretty much wake up at the same time, which makes staying up late the night before less attractive; in part because it seems like the very yeasty Chicago AG scene began to get a bit less yeasty about the time my attendance began to fall off; in part because my favorite venue folded and one of the chief newer ones doesn't feel that comfortable to me (the folded favorite one was the most comfortable place, physically and terms of atmosphere, that I've ever listened to music). I should add that I don't like to go to the chief local mainstream venue for the lack of a comfortable atmosphere reason; also there just aren't many people who play there that I have a strong desire to see these days. Benny Golson, for example, would be an exception; venerable he is but still fervently creative. Not to insult his memory, but in the latter portion of his career I had no desire to catch, say, Clark Terry because I felt I'd already heard most everything he was going to play.

Sorry if I'm being too discursive, but perhaps my behavior and feelings are indicative of some aspect of the lay of the land. I would say that my general stance -- details of age and second-marriage life taken into account -- is that basically I want to hear NEW music: either music that's stylistically novel in the sense that part of the pleasure it gives me, when it's good, is the pleasure of figuring out the novel what and how of what is being said, or music that is stylistically familiar to me but still feels like it's being made "in the now" (Golson or Lee Konitz might be good examples). If the music isn't new in one of those two senses, I'm not that interested anymore.

Not sure I can afford a doctor to interpret this for me.

You didn't get your secret decoder ring?

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This is great news! If jazz were becoming more popular I would probably stop listening to it.

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Damn-

I wish I'd gotten to this topic when more lucid. Daylight savings time and endless hours of rehearsal have completely sapped my sense of rhetorical cogency.

As with any of us, I can only give a personalized "man on the street" perspective as to why jazz's recorded financial unpopularity may be the case, and I see a couple of notable issues-

(A) Despite the subsistence of the artform and the continued vitality of younger jazz musicians, it's clear that (as many have stated above) the common wisdom posits musicians from a bygone era as the paragons of excellence. This has reinforced a secondhand buying culture (e.g., old records, burns, digital sharing, used CDs) that, if I understand correctly, is not properly tracked by Nielsen. If you compound this by the fact that many younger people listening to jazz are actual musicians, and that many musicians are broke, it only reinforces the notion that jazz operates more on the fringes of buying culture.

(B) Much of the most vital jazz I've heard in the past few years issues from independent, artist-run labels with limited distribution and/or limited penetration into avenues that are tracked by Nielsen (e.g., in-person sales at gigs). These sales tend to account for the majority of "buys" from people at my local level.

© The most creatively viable and genuinely original music I've heard as of late comes from musicians who are operating outside of the fringes of what is commonly understood as jazz (with a lot of overlap with avenues in indie rock, experimental hip-hop, etc.). What unifies this music is a certain degree of jazz literacy.

In a "large scale" sense, if you filed Flying Lotus in the jazz section, you'd be forced to file a lot of other experimental electronic music there, too. This is not the case, but Flying Lotus's most recent album (You're Dead) actually has much sonic jazz cred and relevant personnel (Herbie Hancock, post-UGMAA guys) as your average Robert Glasper album--probably a lot more on certain levels.

(If you're interested in this strain of thought at all, there is plenty of deeply creative music by thoroughly schooled jazz musicians that does not much sound like archetypal jazz. Naming a few names--all friends of mine, but a few of them reasonably successful in underground circles--Beep, Naytronix, Ava Mendoza, Jack O' the Clock, Black Spirituals, Bells Atlas, Gentleman Surfer... full disclosure-my own group, Grex, issues from this scene.)

(D) I feel like everyone here is way ahead of me on this, but ultimately, this does not matter. I'm not even sure if this affects the relative toxicity of the genre--the upper echelons of jazz have penetrated the sanctum of funded art music, and the lowercase terrain of clubs and casual gigs is more rightly threatened by the relative cheapness of DJs--not by other genres. The creative fringes will, as they always have, persevere, and a lot of it will infiltrate more popular avenues in unexpected guises--certain indie rock bands with an intense amount of jazz/new music cred, like Deerhoof, Tune-Yards, or even Nels Cline, come to mind.

I think the bigger question is whether we, as the intended audience, are still game for the sometimes bitter work of listening to and engaging with the increasingly volatile modern musical landscape, but I would imagine the answers to that one are diverse and often deeply complex.

Edited by ep1str0phy

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