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

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Whenever the topic of "no one listens to jazz" arises, so many people chime in about the number of great or important jazz artists there are. These are two completely different conversations.

Quite.

But that could be because 'very few younger listeners listen to jazz' also gets extended to 'jazz is dead'. Which then leads to 'no it's not'.....

The odd thing is that in jazz, folk and classical music I experience the sea of grey-hairs situation constantly. Yet in every one of those genres the stage generally contains a more than generous number of young players.

Maybe it's an inevitable shift in the population dynamic. We (in the West) now have an increasingly large, retired, wealthy (in some social classes), elderly population with time on their hands. And a younger generation for whom employment, housing etc is a real struggle. So the market has led to the latter servicing the entertainment needs of the former. Can't see any other reason why young people would want to spend their lives playing to a completely different generation. It's not so in pop/rock.

Interesting. This leads back to what I wrote in post 52 or whatever. I think it is simply because jazz is no longer culturally relevant. It has become a legacy genre just like classical. When an art form is thriving, the listeners tend to follow; when it is on the decline, the artists tend to follow listener expectations.

in order for me to understand what you are saying i need to know if there is a music that is not declining and if so what.

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I think that marketing is sometimes more relevant to this discussion than the music.

Do you remember fifteen years ago when neo-swing was briefly popular with bands like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy? That music was found in the pop section of the record store I worked in, not in the jazz section. That's a reflection of the marketing, not the music.

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Whenever the topic of "no one listens to jazz" arises, so many people chime in about the number of great or important jazz artists there are. These are two completely different conversations.

Quite.

But that could be because 'very few younger listeners listen to jazz' also gets extended to 'jazz is dead'. Which then leads to 'no it's not'.....

The odd thing is that in jazz, folk and classical music I experience the sea of grey-hairs situation constantly. Yet in every one of those genres the stage generally contains a more than generous number of young players.

Maybe it's an inevitable shift in the population dynamic. We (in the West) now have an increasingly large, retired, wealthy (in some social classes), elderly population with time on their hands. And a younger generation for whom employment, housing etc is a real struggle. So the market has led to the latter servicing the entertainment needs of the former. Can't see any other reason why young people would want to spend their lives playing to a completely different generation. It's not so in pop/rock.

Interesting. This leads back to what I wrote in post 52 or whatever. I think it is simply because jazz is no longer culturally relevant. It has become a legacy genre just like classical. When an art form is thriving, the listeners tend to follow; when it is on the decline, the artists tend to follow listener expectations.

in order for me to understand what you are saying i need to know if there is a music that is not declining and if so what.

There are musics that are not declining, and I would encourage you to seek them out. You may not like all of them - I certainly don't - but I acknowledge their existence.

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Whether music is declining in interest to younger people is very hard to gauge. I suspect a lot of us who are in the 50+ age range might think it thus. When we were young there wasn't a great deal to rival music in our affections; the computer revolutions has changed all this.

And yet...I see kids plugged into ear phones everywhere. Much the same interest in taking up guitars and the like. Very few interested in learning an instrument in the conventional way (that's probably different in more affluent areas). We can put our 'Old Fart' hats on and grumble that they're airheads and not really listening - but my experience is that they are genuinely excited by the music that relates to them. I work mainly with colleagues in their 20s and 30s and those who don't have families love to go to 'gigs' and festivals.

Can't quantify it but at a guess I'd say that music does not overwhelm as many younger people today as it did some of us in our youth. But it's still a vital part of their entertainment and sense of identity.

Oddly, many of them have quite a soft spot for 60s/70s/80s era rock music. But jazz, folk, classical rarely registers unless something has popped over the parapet in a film or TV commercial. The young jazz/folk/classical music players I'm relying on to play the music I enjoy are, I suspect, largely appearing from the more affluent end of society (often privately educated). The irony of that hits me every time I go to a concert.

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in order for me to understand what you are saying i need to know if there is a music that is not declining and if so what.

There are musics that are not declining, and I would encourage you to seek them out. You may not like all of them - I certainly don't - but I acknowledge their existence.

That sounds about as well thought out and informed as Bubbles Palin answering the question about what Paul Revere was famous for.

"They are out there, shooting their guns and ringing their bells. They may not all be good, but we should acknowledge that they will not let us take away their guns! Seek them out, for they do exist and are riding out to meet the British!"

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Whether music is declining in interest to younger people is very hard to gauge. I suspect a lot of us who are in the 50+ age range might think it thus. When we were young there wasn't a great deal to rival music in our affections; the computer revolutions has changed all this.

And yet...I see kids plugged into ear phones everywhere. Much the same interest in taking up guitars and the like. Very few interested in learning an instrument in the conventional way (that's probably different in more affluent areas). We can put our 'Old Fart' hats on and grumble that they're airheads and not really listening - but my experience is that they are genuinely excited by the music that relates to them. I work mainly with colleagues in their 20s and 30s and those who don't have families love to go to 'gigs' and festivals.

Can't quantify it but at a guess I'd say that music does not overwhelm as many younger people today as it did some of us in our youth. But it's still a vital part of their entertainment and sense of identity.

Oddly, many of them have quite a soft spot for 60s/70s/80s era rock music. But jazz, folk, classical rarely registers unless something has popped over the parapet in a film or TV commercial. The young jazz/folk/classical music players I'm relying on to play the music I enjoy are, I suspect, largely appearing from the more affluent end of society (often privately educated). The irony of that hits me every time I go to a concert.

Spot on. You nailed it.

My son (going on 15) is deeply into Heavy Metal ever since he started developing his own musical taste some 2 years ago. Not my cuppa ("too noisy" - yes, I am generalizing) but this scene thrives, has plenty of active and up-and-coming bands and attracts huge audiences (and from what I have so far been able to observe, all in all more peaceful and more sane audiences than, say, the Techno scene where the connection between the music and certain drugs would be a bit too close for comfort - to us as parents, anyway).

And strangely, the "old heroes" among Heavy Metal music fans really date back to bands we knew from our youth from the Hard Rock circuit right from the early 70s (Black Sabbath being one main act). And since the "old stuff music" that jokingly comes up at home every now and then when my kid is exposed to my jazz and R&B records, on calculating I was amused to find out that the music of his all-time legends actually is distinctly older than my preferred music was when I got into music at his age. At 15 in 1975 the stars of many of my preferred styles of music had been "current" between 10 and 30 years before whereas quite a few of his big heroes made their biggest splashes some 40 years ago.

Now some may say those who are into that music today are again listening only to copycat bands of 70s/80s music but even with the scant few items I have seen and heard there are plenty of bands who add a totally new twist within that style, including e.g. those who play the music on reproductions of medieval instruments, etc. - with songs and lyrics and stage acts to match.

Which is about what there is to today's jazz bands playing in the swing style. It exposes a new generation to this music and can serve as an "accessible" entry pass to other artists, either the old masters or maybe more contemporary bands with more modern touches but close ties to swing, bop, etc. and with a distinct audible lineage that new generations of listeners can relatively easily relate to in their phase of being "eased into" jazz.

It works in a number of ways. When my wife and me took some swing and lindy hop dancing classes about 2 yearas ago this a.o. had the positive effect that my wife (our common musical interests are 50s rockabilly and rock'n'roll) who has always tolerated my jazz but never could relate to it in a big way - particularly Bird and beyond, of course - now is much more open to jazzmen like Louis Jordan, Fats Waller, Andy Kirk, etc. in that vein and won't flee our music room anymore if Shorty Rogers' "Courts The Count" plays on the hi-fi, for example. ;) Dancing to the music is a good way of finding a new access to a music you so far have not been able to relate to.

Now again some may put on their "grumpy old fart" hats and bemoan the fact that whoever presents swing for dancing audiences like this today is again just imitating the 30s bands and is just a copycat.

All this on the (false IMHO) premise that everything that could possibly be played in classic jazz and swing (and bebop too?) has already been played and there is nothing (and nothing new, above all) left to be played.

A condescending attitude that - honestly - is starting to gall me no end, because these people apparently have never made a COMPREHENSIVE and open-eared (and, should I say, passably sympathetic?) effort to listen closely. Of course the basic framework of those earlier styles of jazz has been around for decades and the pattern has been set, but new angles and new twists, variations on a theme etc. are being added all the time. Would those people deny the Hot Club of San Francisco or the Hot Club of Cowtown (as a "crossover" band in THEIR version of cross-pollination between styles), for example, the right to play their music as jazz and to have it APPRECIATED as jazz just because the Quintette of the HCDF has already been around decades before? Etc. etc.

I can understand some may have tired of the older styles and demand something totally new in jazz in order to experience the excitement they are after. But how much REALLY new is there left to be played in jazz or any style of music from a certain point of time anyway? In a way, after a while EVERY combination of sounds has already been played somewhere sometime and even what is recombined then is only a variation of elements that have been around before. The scope of those musical (or maybe not so musical anymore?) sounds that have not been played before would narrow down beyond all reasonable limit and end up in some far-out collage of noises.

And besides - talking about Brötzmann being jazz (I consider him part of jazz too, though he and his ilk certainly are not my preferreed cup of tea), who says that whatever screeching on free jazz/avant-garde saxophone that you could possibly screech hasn't already been screeched by now too? So whoever comes after Brötzmann and plays free sax might just as much be labeled an imitator and copycat or clone?? Even in "free improvisation" you have been around the block after a while and will run out of the possible combinations of sounds available that make sense to somebody somewhere.

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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That sounds about as well thought out and informed as Bubbles Palin answering the question about what Paul Revere was famous for.

"They are out there, shooting their guns and ringing their bells. They may not all be good, but we should acknowledge that they will not let us take away their guns! Seek them out, for they do exist and are riding out to meet the British!"

Sorry my response was not up to your literary standards. I posted that at 11 pm after several drinks and a very stressful day of caring for my very sick cat. Please send him positive vibes. He has liver disease. I greatly appreciate it.

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This dynamic probably has to do a lot with population dynamics. People with emotional ties to jazz are primarily from older generations. Every year, a large number of jazz fans die who are not replaced by younger people becoming jazz fans. Jazz is no longer the sound of the street, the sound of youth in America.

Very true, John L. (Just the same here.) The only young people getting a taste for jazz nowadays are the tiny handful who learn about it on music education courses in colleges and universities.

I think you are underestimating other sources of "inflow" into the jazz fanbase. There's NPR, and also reverse crossover (i.e. everything from semi-jazzy vocalists to smooth jazz to Thurston Moore endorsing free jazz).

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

Really surprising interest is limited.

We have a winner :)

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.

It also doesn't seem to approximate the early history of jazz, when it was intended as entertainment, not "art".

Edited by Guy

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I saw / heard Lee live in a quartet last night.

It was a little sad & surrealistic.

He sang (scatted?) on every song.

Appeared to be out of breath. Maybe it was the altitude.

When he played mostly it was 8 bar segments.

Set overall was quite short.

Hope he's O.K.

BTW, George Schuller played very nicely.

Sorry to hear that. But a friend who may have the most acute ear of anyone I know heard Lee in Chicago recently and was very impressed.

I felt in the presence of a "legend", but there was no stamina & the "singing" on every song was distracting.

He kept looking at his watch, asked how long are we supposed to play & was finished in less than 45 minutes. There was no 2nd set.

Well as noted, if Lee just flew in the night before or that morning he might have been effected by the altitude. Santa Fe is 7,000 feet after all. And Lee is 87 -- it might also be harder to be consistently at one's peak night-to-night at that age.

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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.

It also doesn't seem to approximate the early history of jazz, when it was intended as entertainment, not "art". Right. Outstanding point. I hadn't even considered that particular angle.

Music is supposed to be fun. Entertaining. Not some exercise in snottery like a bunch of old rich guys sitting around comparing their excruciatingly banal wine tasting notes. Only to look down their nose at others who simply drink wine without going through all the extremely silly ritualistic contortions before even taking a sip.

Yes, what heathens...

They'd rather simply drink wine and enjoy their company than sit around looking like a jackass staring at it from all angles, swirling it around in the glass, smelling corks...

Jazz really lost its way when its fan base decided it had become a deified art form that had to be worshipped in ceremonial deference. Or that only those with I.Q.'s above 150 need apply. There's no more assured way to turn someone off to your product than to talk down to them as though they are ignorant children.

Edited by Scott Dolan

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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.

It also doesn't seem to approximate the early history of jazz, when it was intended as entertainment, not "art". Right. Outstanding point. I hadn't even considered that particular angle.

Music is supposed to be fun. Entertaining. Not some exercise in snottery like a bunch of old rich guys sitting around comparing their excruciatingly banal wine tasting notes. Only to look down their nose at others who simply drink wine without going through all the extremely silly ritualistic contortions before even taking a sip.

Yes, what heathens...

They'd rather simply drink wine and enjoy their company than sit around looking like a jackass staring at it from all angles, swirling it around in the glass, smelling corks...

Jazz really lost its way when its fan base decided it had become a deified art form that had to be worshipped in ceremonial deference. Or that only those with I.Q.'s above 150 need apply. There's no more assured way to turn someone off to your product than to talk down to them as though they are ignorant children.

Well, I don't know if I would take it that far. People can appreciate music in all sorts of ways, appreciating it as "art" is one of them, music for dancing is another. But the idea that jazz is dying because "young people today can't appreciate real art harrumph harrumph harrumph" seems to be highly revisionist of jazz's actual real world history.

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But, that plays to the point I was trying to make there, Guy.

Art still has to possess a level of entertainment. When all the fun and entertainment is wrung out of it by its proponants, then it will naturally begin to shrivel up and die.

Jazz is presented by way too many as some kind of revered, next-level art form. Who has time for self self-aggrandized bullshit?

Jazz may, or may not, have the power to stand on its own merits these days, but the pretentious comments from some of its biggest fans sure as hell doesn't help draw new fans in. Think about how Classical music is portrayed. A bunch of old white people in tuxedoes and evening gowns attending a performance ending in polite applause and hours sipping wine at a reception in the local art gallery afterwards.

Yeah, baby! That's a really kickass Saturday night! You can hardly keep the college kids away!

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A whole lot depends on what you find entertaining. Forms of entertainment that are generally engaged in are not that entertaining to everyone. Why should they be? And why should the fact that others find engaging/entertaining things that some others find abstruse/puzzling, etc. be used as a stick to beat those others and their tastes/interests over the head? There is, or should be, room for both. Or have all these points already been made on this thread?

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More like why should those who find nothing of interest in genres like Jazz and Classical be looked upon with pity as being lesser, or less intelligent?

And to the exact point you're addressing, why present Jazz as some transcedent art form instead of a musical genre you find immensely entertaining and enjoyable? The former is sure to make people a little nervous in approaching it.

Edited by Scott Dolan

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It wasn't a response, it was an avoidance.

I appreciate your sending positive thoughts to my cat. He is very ill. Thank you.

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It also doesn't seem to approximate the early history of jazz, when it was intended as entertainment, not "art".

Right. Outstanding point. I hadn't even considered that particular angle.

Music is supposed to be fun. Entertaining. Not some exercise in snottery like a bunch of old rich guys sitting around comparing their excruciatingly banal wine tasting notes. Only to look down their nose at others who simply drink wine without going through all the extremely silly ritualistic contortions before even taking a sip.

Yes, what heathens...

They'd rather simply drink wine and enjoy their company than sit around looking like a jackass staring at it from all angles, swirling it around in the glass, smelling corks...

Jazz really lost its way when its fan base decided it had become a deified art form that had to be worshipped in ceremonial deference. Or that only those with I.Q.'s above 150 need apply. There's no more assured way to turn someone off to your product than to talk down to them as though they are ignorant children.

But, that plays to the point I was trying to make there, Guy.

Art still has to possess a level of entertainment. When all the fun and entertainment is wrung out of it by its proponants, then it will naturally begin to shrivel up and die.

Jazz is presented by way too many as some kind of revered, next-level art form. Who has time for self self-aggrandized bullshit?

Jazz may, or may not, have the power to stand on its own merits these days, but the pretentious comments from some of its biggest fans sure as hell doesn't help draw new fans in. Think about how Classical music is portrayed. A bunch of old white people in tuxedoes and evening gowns attending a performance ending in polite applause and hours sipping wine at a reception in the local art gallery afterwards.

Yeah, baby! That's a really kickass Saturday night! You can hardly keep the college kids away!

Very good points. Fully agreed. This more or less sums up what i tried to get across by way of concrete examples in my earlier post today.

You and I, we may not agree on the exact style(s) of jazz that we find most entertaining but I think we do agree that something went seriously out of balance when those who had the "muscle" (thorugh the media or wherever) tried by all means to elevate jazz to a status if "high art" for "serious", dignified appreciation and ruled out entertainment of the kind that had been the core of jazz up to, say, early post-WWII (and in some areas of jazz even well after that - jump blues! soul jazz! And you CAN jitterbug to bebop ...) as being lowly,, "commercial" and unworthy of remaining at the core of what jazz is (supposed to be) all about.

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Agreed, BBSteve.

This entire conversation reminds me of a conversation that took place between me and a buddy many years ago when I was deep in the throes of "Jazz as a higher intellectual arform" days.

This friend had recently started listening to Najee. Now, he wasn't a fan of Jazz before that, but heard Najee and took to his music immediately. Well, me being the obviously higher life form as I was listening to Ornette and Coltrane daily, started making fun of Najee's music and wondering aloud why he didn't try to play "actual" Jazz.

My buddy's reply still sticks with me to this day: "Maybe he's just playing what he likes to play."

That one knocked me down a few notches...

Edited by Scott Dolan

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That sounds about as well thought out and informed as Bubbles Palin answering the question about what Paul Revere was famous for.

"They are out there, shooting their guns and ringing their bells. They may not all be good, but we should acknowledge that they will not let us take away their guns! Seek them out, for they do exist and are riding out to meet the British!"

Sorry my response was not up to your literary standards. I posted that at 11 pm after several drinks and a very stressful day of caring for my very sick cat. Please send him positive vibes. He has liver disease. I greatly appreciate it.

Apology accepted. I hope you are now over the effects of the drinks While jazz is and remains my first love I listen/listened to a lot of different musics. It would just be that much easier for me to understand your point if you would name one that is not in decline in your opinion . And frankly if you don't want to play nice, I don't give a rats about your cat.

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Apology accepted. I hope you are now over the effects of the drinks While jazz is and remains my first love I listen/listened to a lot of different musics. It would just be that much easier for me to understand your point if you would name one that is not in decline in your opinion . And frankly if you don't want to play nice, I don't give a rats about your cat.

That would be "rat's ass," as in the ass of a rat.

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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A whole lot depends on what you find entertaining. Forms of entertainment that are generally engaged in are not that entertaining to everyone. Why should they be? And why should the fact that others find engaging/entertaining things that some others find abstruse/puzzling, etc. be used as a stick to beat those others and their tastes/interests over the head? There is, or should be, room for both. Or have all these points already been made on this thread?

Isn't it rather the other way round? There are those out there who flock to what today is being played in the swing idiom, for example (or maybe post-bop or classicist jazz like what Marsalis does - yes, I know, anathema to many!), and enjoy themselves immensely but sure as day and night then there there will be those who invariably will denigrate this as not being worthy of being considered jazz because the music these people (MANY young ones, at least in swing/dancers' circles, mind you!) enjoy is not innovative enough, not enough of real "art", not dignified enough - but rather just plain fun!

It is great if there are those out there who find the other (relative) extremes of jazz entertaining, i.e. all-out avantgarde or whatever falls under that tag today. More, much more power to them. But is there anybody connected in any way with the world of jazz who is entitled in ANY way to postulate "ex cathedra" that this (avantgarde, free improvisation, whatever) is the ONLY acceptable type/style of jazz being played TODAY? Like you say, "there should be room for both".

So in a first step, maybe the "legitimacy" (a dangerous term - I am not referring to this term as used in classical music, of course) of the ENTIRE spectrum of jazz as really being part of TODAYS' jazz that is still being performed live ought to be confirmed. And in a second step, IMO it wouldn't be such a bad idea if the question of "WHAT jazz are we talking about??" would be clarified first whenever questions/theories such as "jazz doesn't have an audience anymore" come up.

Jazz covers such a wide variety of styles that hardly anybody (at least not nearly enough to make up enough of an audience for ALL styles of jazz) can be expected to like and embrace the ENTIRE spectrum equally. And if one style of jazz has more of a following than another style of jazz then the entire premise of such debates would be skewed if this fact weren't taken into consideration from the start.

Like Scott says, this exclusive "jazz as high art" thing is the best way to alienate your potential audience.

And to the exact point you're addressing, why present Jazz as some transcedent art form instead of a musical genre you find immensely entertaining and enjoyable? The former is sure to make people a little nervous in approaching it.

The point Scott makes about nervousness was brought home to me time and again when I tried to sell off duplicates from my LP ollection both at fleamarktes and at 50s-style events (I don't have that much stuff up for sale, but it's about 80 to 90% swing, plus some 50s modern jazz). When I had labeled that box just plain "Jazz" (because to me all of this falls into the category "Jazz" after all) there often were remarks such as "Jazz? Ah no, that's those funny sounds. That's too far out. That's not my kind." and people didn't even browse. So in the end I labeled the box "Swing/Jazz", and THIS had people check out the contents of that box far more often and make purchases. ;)

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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More like why should those who find nothing of interest in genres like Jazz and Classical be looked upon with pity as being lesser, or less intelligent?

And to the exact point you're addressing, why present Jazz as some transcedent art form instead of a musical genre you find immensely entertaining and enjoyable? The former is sure to make people a little nervous in approaching it.

I don't "present" jazz. I believe, to anyone who doesn't already find it interesting, nor would I do so if I did in any other way than as something that I find very entertaining and enjoyable (though I might, if asked, then add some details). Nor, I hope, do I spend any time and energy on trying to tell those who don't like jazz that they're dolts because they don't like or get it.

I had a useful real-life experience along those lines with my son. He could hear the music in the house, and while I would answer questions if and when they came up (they did now and then), I never tried to sell the music to him, in large part because he was all wrapped up in the forms of rock that he was listening to and eventually began playing himself as a member of various bands. However, on his own hook, at about age 17, he spontaneously got caught up in the Grant Green recording of "Stolen Moments," and jazz began to become some part, though not all, of know what he paid attention to. Don't what would have happened if I'd been trying to sell jazz to him all that time, but I don't think it would have worked.

Had a friend who was just getting into jazz way back when (7th grade), and he kind of sold it to me at first -- the way a friend several years before might have infected one with his interest in toy soldiers -- but I soon began to run with the ball myself. BTW, that friend ended up about a decade later as a big fan of the music of the Yale Glee Club and Los Indios Tabajaras -- go figure.

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Later today I will read the two items linked. But in the meantime, at the risk of embarrassing myself by saying something that is a point made in the articles, let me say this.

Something happened shortly after World War II. I don't know why, but the English-speaking world lost interest in instrumental music.

I believe that for the past 45 years, The Ventures have made their living touring Japan. In the '60s, Europeans listened to Willis Conover on Radio Free Europe, and American jazz musicians found work in Europe.

But in the US (and presumably Canada and I suppose the British Isles) the only two instrumental acts to make a big splash in my lifetime have been The Tijuana Brass and Kenny G.

So I think that there is something going on here that involves more than jazz. And of course, this dislike of instrumental music may explain why classical music is down there with jazz for low record sales.

I noticed the same in classical music, early music in particular. Except for the popular symphonies people prefer vocal music, sacred or secular. Perhaps it is because instrumental music needs more attention, to get the melodic content etc. - in classical music it cannot be words carying the message, rather the direct impact of the human voice, I believe. If I look at the "listening" threads of German classical forums I cannot help but draw this conclusion.

And if I look at what draws attention in jazz at the time, it's singers, many on the verge of pop.

People have to learn how to listen, in the street, in clubs, in school, anywhere - but do they?

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Much as I dislike the word 'art' (I instantly get visions of:

Niles-and-Frasier-007.jpg

...), I can understand its use as a way of distinguishing between music made purely for commercial ends and music made for its own sake.

The trouble is, they run into one another - you have to get right out on the edge to find music made purely for commercial ends or music made without any compromise for what people want.

The trouble with so much 'art' debate is that it revolves around shoving things the art-lover doesn't like in the not-art box whilst gathering what he/she does like in the is-art box.

Except at those extremes, most music will be responding to both the internal creativity of the musicians and the desire to please the public (Ellington, to name but one, was a master of doing both).

In that world, entertainment is not a dirty word. What is entertaining (as has already been said) will vary according to the listener and some entertainment (as has already been said) does not reveal its pleasure without a bit of effort and patience (sometimes a lot of effort and patience).

By and large, the general public expect the performer to come a fair way towards them to provide the pleasure; at some point between the 40s and 60s a lot of jazz became increasingly reluctant to make that journey. Which is fine...I'm sure most musicians who choose to follow a path that prioritises their creativity over connecting with an audience accept that they are always going to struggle to make a living.

But it does explain why jazz (and other genres) are not as popular as the were at a time when musicians regularly set out to win over a wide body of listeners. It's got nothing to do with narrowing attention spans or lowering cultural or intellectual standards. Wringing our hands over the fact that people prefer Madonna over Anthony Braxton is pointless - Braxton knew exactly what he was doing when he chose to make music that would not compromise (and he must have known the consequence in terms of wider popularity).

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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The trouble with so much 'art' debate is that it revolves around shoving things the art-lover doesn't like in the not-art box whilst gathering what he/she does like in the is-art box.

Bingo.

+1,000,000,000

I could not agree more.

This is 100% correct.

And I consider anyone who truly holds that mindset to be sadly mistaken and walling themselves within their own misguided reality.

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