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Jazz is dead


Billster

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Oar is it?

 

If you don't read the whole article, at least read these pulls:

 

The article's main insight arrived when a neighbor visited Werner and started naming jazz musicians he liked -- all of whom play smooth jazz. Werner sent the neighbor home with some authentic jazz CDs, including one of his own, and the neighbor reported that he liked some of it -- Miles Davis's ''Kind of Blue," in particular -- but that Werner's had been problematic. He'd been trying to build a fireplace in his living room while listening to Werner's CD, and found the music a distraction.

 

''His main complaint about it was that it was so interesting that he had to stop and listen to it. And that's where jazz musicians are all misguided: They're making CDs under the assumption that someone's going to listen to them. These people are buying something [so] they can put it on and then spackle."

 

''I still can't really relate to jazz in the commercial world," he says. ''But I started to realize that, yeah, art certainly has no currency in this country, but, man, there are a bunch of people that have been entirely through the whole material experiment, and they are not happy. So there must be something else, even beyond art, that people are really hungry for. If I focus on that, and that becomes the focus of my music . . . I could reach past the commercial monolith and go to where the hunger really is in myself and find an audience. And I have. I haven't found everything I've wanted, but I certainly have an audience."

It's interesting that a successful performer feels the record companies have no idea how to market deep music. If the writer can sustain himself and find an audience, you would think that a record company with real resources could put thoughtful music in front of a larger and still receptive audience. Instead we get Kenny G. What's going on here?

 

Discuss.

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Originally posted by Kramer Ferrington III.:

**shrug** I find jazz kinda boring, actually.

 

All that whee and whine and not a tune on the horizon.

 

I like a lot of dixieland though, because there's a lot of energy in that music. But bebop and beyond I completely loathe.

 

**flame suit now on**

There's a lot more to jazz than bebop. Perhaps you are listening to the wrong thing for your taste.

 

The point is more about the fact that a market exists for deeper, less disposable art, and the so-called marketing gurus somehow can't access the audience.

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i think it's numbers, bill. in several ways:

 

1. there is an enormous, i men ENORMOUS, catalog for jazz. even for the collector like myself, i barely have room or inclination to buy any jazz records made since 1964-65. blue note makes more money remastering tried and true jazz than supporting new ideas and frontiers.

 

2. what percentage of the record buying public actually buys jazz? i would guess it's under 2-3%.

 

3. record companies (even jazz) are in the business of making money. kenny g crosses over to a pop audience that has not learned HOW to listen to jazz, but they get the satisfaction of saying "i love jazz" when in fact they love pop.

 

in my experience playing jazz live, it's much the same. my gypsy band plays what could be considered an accessible style of jazz and we make pretty good money.

 

when i play with an "outside" sounding funk-jazz style band, we can't make a decent wage even though the music is vastly more interesting and complex.

 

i just watched the Carvin video where they interview allan holdsworth, and he's talking about IOU playing for 5-10 people in a pub in england. when they got to play for 250 people in the US, they thought they had arrived. it's not a new problem, i think we just have a poor sense of what musicians have been through historically.

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Originally posted by Kramer Ferrington III.:

**shrug** I find jazz kinda boring, actually.

 

All that whee and whine and not a tune on the horizon.

 

I like a lot of dixieland though, because there's a lot of energy in that music. But bebop and beyond I completely loathe.

 

**flame suit now on**

I hate to admit it but I felt the same way at one time.

 

It was due to sheer ignorance, being close minded, and having a neanderthal like zero tolerance for anything that didn't have a rock, blues or Dixieland backbeat type of feel (hey you have your flame suit on, so hopefully that won't burn you).

 

After making an effort to cultivate an appreciation for jazz, and finding some real jem recordings out there amidst the lots of stuff I still don't like, I find that genuine cool jazz (NOT SMOOTH!!!YECH!!!) is one of my favorite listening and playing experiences.

 

Jazz is seriously hurtin in the popularity dept., no doubt, but it's not dead around my house.

Just a pinch between the geek and chum

 

 

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Lining up behind FJ, it's all part of the increasing commodification of music + the lack of many small or independent labels.

One would think that the Net, etc., would increase marketing opportunities but since most artists are busy just making music & already have agents & managers I suspect there's a lag so far as gearing things toward on-line marketing, especially since the territory is still being defined.

 

A similar discussion's been cropping up in Downbeat mag, having to do with the "misrecognition" of jazz in the popular mind---Kenny G winning sax player of the year & that sort of thing.

So much of success today (well, as always, only moreso) depends on marketing strategies & in a world of what seems to be shortened attention spans + flash & glitz as winners over substance, regardless of whatever field, any music or art that depends on a certain level of consciousness or attention to history regularly loses to what is easily digested & even intentionally disposable.

 

 

What's needed is people who know how to reach out an audience & capture their attention, even sometimes if their peers might acuse them of gimmickry. Wynton Marsalis isn't exactly an example (in fact, he's one of those cats who'd cut into masters like Miles Davis who could wipe the floor with him :mad: just because Miles dared to cover pop songs---as if that wasn't part of the whole history of jazz !) but he does have a penchant for getting himself into the center of the public's view. Compare him to brother Branford, whom I like much better but who gave up a spotlight position as bandleader on the Tonight Show because he felt (or feared) that it undercut is "credibility".

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(I more than half expected this to be about the interpretive-covers project-group of the same name as this thread, that does jazz-y instrumental renditions of Grateful Dead songs... )

 

"He'd been trying to build a fireplace in his living room while listening to Werner's CD, and found the music a distraction.

 

"His main complaint about it was that it was so interesting that he had to stop and listen to it. And that's where jazz musicians are all misguided: They're making CDs under the assumption that someone's going to listen to them...""

Damn, that's too funny!

 

I don't think there's anything wrong at all with having music that is essentially "background" music, or enjoying any as such. Might not always be my cup of tea, and one person's idea of "background" might differ completely with another's. I suspect, though, that a LOT of people listen to ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING that they listen to (pop, rap, nu-metal, whatever) with a "background" perspective much of the time...

 

The trouble- for music makers, in today's marketplace setting- is that a very large number of the folks that make up the consumer-base are apparently all conditioned to a background-music relegation for "jazz" and other stylistic 'categories'. It's like Frank Zappa said, "People don't know what they like, they like what they know." And, for perspective, compare "today's marketplace setting", and "consumer-base", to that of other times in history. At some points- many and long- the difference is so great that there effectively was no marketplace/consumer-base at all.

 

Also, the geographic reality created boundaries, that also encouraged regional styles and forms to come about and develop. The advent of broader range radio, TV, recording sales and promotion, and the internet have made it a smaller world, for better AND for worse.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Originally posted by Funk Jazz:

... kenny g crosses over to a pop audience that has not learned HOW to listen to jazz, but they get the satisfaction of saying "i love jazz" when in fact they love pop.

Very well put. That's so true.

 

I can't seem to hold a conversation if there's good music playing in the background (jazz or otherwise). I always find myself listening to the music instead of the other person and inevitably wind up looking really stupid when they ask me a question and with a blank stare I have to ask them to repeat what they just said. I don't seem to have that problem with Kenny G's music, though.

 

Paul

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Originally posted by Caevan_O'Shite:

I don't think there's anything wrong at all with having music that is essentially "background" music, or enjoying any as such. Might not always be my cup of tea, and one person's idea of "background" might differ completely with another's.

This reminds of an opinion offered by a young musician friend who'd kinda given up on jazz in favor of "music that I don't have to think about so much".

 

I suppose there's a tendency for some, especially if they have a musical background, to think they need to study or understand what's going on, when often they might just as easily relax & just enjoy music for what it is in the moment.

That sort of thinking may be what cuts down on the popularity of any "difficult" music, jazz, classical or whatever.

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Originally posted by pauldil:

Originally posted by Funk Jazz:

... kenny g crosses over to a pop audience that has not learned HOW to listen to jazz, but they get the satisfaction of saying "i love jazz" when in fact they love pop.

Very well put. That's so true.

 

I can't seem to hold a conversation if there's good music playing in the background (jazz or otherwise). I always find myself listening to the music instead of the other person and inevitably wind up looking really stupid when they ask me a question and with a blank stare I have to ask them to repeat what they just said. I don't seem to have that problem with Kenny G's music, though.

 

Paul

have you ever caught yourself in the supermarket, dead in your tracks, because there is some decent guitar playing in the muzak being piped into the store? (i hate to admit it, but some of the smooth jazz guys have chops)

 

i drive my wife crazy with those moments :D

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Originally posted by Billster:

And that's where jazz musicians are all misguided: They're making CDs under the assumption that someone's going to listen to them. These people are buying something [so] they can put it on and then spackle."

Oh, that'll make you laugh and cry at the same time

 

That's good

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Originally posted by Billster:

These people are buying something [so] they can put it on and then spackle."

 

''I still can't really relate to jazz in the commercial world," he says. ''But I started to realize that, yeah, art certainly has no currency in this country, but, man, there are a bunch of people that have been entirely through the whole material experiment, and they are not happy. So there must be something else, even beyond art, that people are really hungry for. If I focus on that, and that becomes the focus of my music . . . I could reach past the commercial monolith and go to where the hunger really is in myself and find an audience. And I have. I haven't found everything I've wanted, but I certainly have an audience."

 

I follow up to part people are looking for music they can spackle to. I played Giant Steps over and over while painting my condo so maybe that's my "spakle" music. I guess I should have been listening to Kenny G?

 

I don't understand what he's advocating though. He says the people making artful music are unhappy because they don't have an audience. Okay. What is it beyond art that people hunger for that he wants to play? All music is art even if it's commercial. Is he talking about making pop music? What's his point?

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Originally posted by CraigT:

I don't understand what he's advocating though. He says the people making artful music are unhappy because they don't have an audience. Okay. What is it beyond art that people hunger for that he wants to play? All music is art even if it's commercial. Is he talking about making pop music? What's his point?

I think you misunderstood him, because he says he has found an audience.

 

To sort of go towards what Caevan had to say, "people don't know what they like, they like what they know - FZ", I think that what the author I linked to is saying is that his experience is that when his neighbor (the spackler) took the moment to listen to some serious jazz, the spackler found he could take an interest in it. Now, how many of those people exist? I believe people want to hear something complex and intriguing, but they are conditioned (again, like Caevan said) to have certain "boxes" where certain styles of music are allowed to exist as social accessories instead of actual listening experiences.

 

"Social Accessories" WBAGNFAJB :D

 

Hey, Pauldil, I know that conversation :wave:

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i like the closing quote especially:

 

 

'' there are a bunch of people that have been entirely through the whole material experiment, and they are not happy. So there must be something else, even beyond art, that people are really hungry for. If I focus on that, and that becomes the focus of my music . . . I could reach past the commercial monolith and go to where the hunger really is in myself and find an audience."

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Or... Spazz by Jacklight? :freak:;)

 

"You- there, jumping around shredding over all them changes- put your hands in the air, and step AWAY FROM THE AMP; this is the Smooth Jazz Police..." :D

 

Either way, gotta include a spackle-speckled lava-lamp in the foreground... :cool:

 

Anyways...

 

Somewhere in there, in what he was saying ("beyond art", "monoliths", etc.), I think that he meant that he still pleased himself first with the music he's marketing, and was still able to please and appeal to enough other people to have an audience. Anybody else get that outta all that?

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Originally posted by Caputo:

i like the closing quote especially:

 

 

'' there are a bunch of people that have been entirely through the whole material experiment, and they are not happy. So there must be something else, even beyond art, that people are really hungry for. If I focus on that, and that becomes the focus of my music . . . I could reach past the commercial monolith and go to where the hunger really is in myself and find an audience."

That really speaks to a lot of problems in society being caused by materialism. I live in a five bedroom house, devoid of human experience, but I'll watch the Super Bowl on a 52" plasma screen!

 

I live in a cozy Cape Codder where I actually interact with my family and other humans. :)

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While I do think jazz is not dead it is on life support. You don't see jazz filling arenas. It is a very niche market with a small but dedicated following. From reading the Ken Burns book it sounds like jazz started losing people with the advent of bebop because they couldn't dance to it. I'm sure Elvis sealed the deal. I don't really like much jazz before the bebop era. But it seems people always wanted music that made them move. I think people want music to make them dance or music to spakle by.
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As to the challenge of marketing "deep music", the music market in general, no matter what genre you consider, suffers from a significant oversupply. And I'm not just talking about music that makes it onto a CD and into a store, even though it seems you could stop there and still be in oversupply. But every state, city, county, province, town and neighborhood has an abundance of people who think they can make music that is meaningful and marketable to a significant portion of the population.
Yum, Yum! Eat em up!
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...& so back to the commodification of music/art...

The ever-increasing technology that makes it possible for musicians to exercise greater control over their own creations also makes it possible for more "oughts ba workin' at the convenience store" types to make their own art as well.

While there's something to be said for self-exploration, how do we balance what's worthwhile with what's just there in the way ?

 

...& so back to marketing... Creative people need to take the extra step to find how to market themselves rather than depend on uninvolved outsiders, who may only back whatever catches the wind, to do so.

 

Jazz (indeed any good music) needs that approach more than ever as we are shoved onto a world where, increasingly, it's survival not of the fittest but the most savvy.

Knowing how to get attention in the midst of all the noise is what will make anyone's mark.

As i said already, I think too many really talented people are afraid of seeming "unauthentic" if the give too much attention to that.

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Well, if jazz is dead, so to is the sit-and-applaud-appropriately music concert. Last time you went to hear your local symphony orchestra was when?

 

Music is ubiquitous. If we stopped to actually listen to music everytime we heard it -- in the elevator, at the mall, in the car, at the sporting event, etc. -- we'd never get anywhere or get anything done. So as a society we've learned that music is just background to our everyday existance. Moreso with portable mp3 players -- and the way they're marketed -- we're able to choose the music that accompanies us throughout our day. (And between them and cell phones, we can pretty much [rudely] ignore any reality that might be staring us in the face, such as the checkout clerk at the grocery store.)

 

Back to concerts. They have to have non-stop audience participation these days. It's what the "listening" public expects. Dancing, or more appropriately moshing, and singing every hit song (off key of course) is the norm now. But what was the alternative? Remember feeling drowsy during an adagio or slower piece of a symphony, yawning, and perhaps, yes, even nodding off? A teenager is more like the squirmy 5yo that can't sit still to save his life than the sedate senior with the unshakeable attention span.

 

A very similar problem can be seen in (visual) art. What artworks hang on the walls of your house? Or maybe you just have a digital collection, or just browse the web whenever you feel like you want "art". Is that digital collection merely "clip art", used to dress up an otherwise drab flyer you're making? Is that a mass produced poster you framed yourself hanging in your bedroom?

 

No! you say. You have a "painting". Or is it a reproduction? If it's the "Mona Lisa", yeah, I bet it's a repro. ;) The fad right now is to paste a large ink-jet repro on a piece of burlap to simulate an oil-on-canvas. What a joke!

 

In the world of art, things are driven a bit more from what the consumer is willing to pay. Not many people will be able to spend thousands of dollars on a piece of art. But they can spend $10-$20 on a cheap reproduction. So the artist has to choose between selling an oil-on-canvas original, or devaluing it by selling cheap copies.

 

Er, ok. So who likes abstract art? You know, the stuff that's so far out there, that even reading the title doesn't clue you into what the artist is trying to communicate? How about a painting of your favorite dog breed, a beagle perhaps? It's pretty much the same with jazz/classical vs. something with a driving 4/4 beat and a catchy lyric that can be sung and/or danced to. Things that are a little easier to grasp are, well, grasped. ;)

 

But, really, should we be surprised? Throughout history, that has been music's purpose: song and dance. I was reading a book on recorders (the kind with holes that you blow in to produce sounds) and the author states that early on they were used in place of singing, supposedly for those that could not sing the part. (Think about that for a minute: you're a guitar player because you're a frustrated singer. :rolleyes: ) Sure, instrumental music evolved into it's own art, but song/dance hits a more basic, human chord.

 

What Elvis could do with his hips (and lips), Paganini could do instrumentally with a violin: women swooning everywhere. So at least at one (some) point(s) in time, instrumental music was able to move people in a way that only vocal music seems capable of today.

 

Is jazz dead? Possibly. Fads come and go in so many facets of our lives. Thankfully, men no longer wear white powder wigs nor tights. ;) But, unlike music written for lute or other instruments whose time in the spotlight has faded, jazz and other modern music is available forever as recordings. As long as the recordings are available, jazz will never really die.

 

What did early music -- prior to medieval times -- sound like? We'll never really know. There are no sound recordings and very little written records. Somewhere in history, a whole slew of music was lost because it was written in tab fashion, and no one knows how to read it anymore. That music is truly dead.

 

[sorry for the ramble; no time to go back and make that more coherent.]

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I agree: no music is "dead" if there are people playing and listening to it.. even if no one is getting rich!

 

And there are jazz guys making a living at it.. even if they take a commercial gig now and then! But from I understand, Mozart did his share of commercial music, too.. something about a nasty habit called EATING...

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