|Why People Aren't Into Jazz -- My Little Theory|
|11/18/2017 6:16:52 AM - I recently went to see my husband perform at Birdland with a new group put together by legendary bassist Dave Holland, a sextet including Mulgrew Miller on piano, Eric Harland on drums, Robin Eubanks on trombone, and Antonio Hart on alto sax. At my table was a friend who, while appreciating various forms of music on quite a wide scale compared to the normal folk, was still seemingly new to jazz. In fact, he had tried to wrangle some of his friends to partake in the evening, but as he explained, jazz was a hard sell. We talked a little about why people weren't too into jazz, and he factored in the very valid issue of poor marketing effecting people's image of jazz. But I think "marketing" or lack of is a poor excuse, and even when it is used effectively, such as in the case of Wynton Marsalis, it can hinder the true essence of jazz.|
I will share with you something that is still under wraps, but for the sake of this point I am trying to make, I have been approached by a group of people who are attempting to put together a DVD record company of jazz music. Their vision is to make a company whose DVD images are unmistakably their brand, and the music to be something more digestible than what they call the more "academic" jazz. I had a meeting with them last week, and it was interesting to hear them talk about how jazz has a stale image, that there is no real modern jazz, etc. While I understand what they're saying, and it's true that many "jazz" artists have a tendency to regurgitate the past and do yet another version of "My Funny Valentine" or "Moon River," or the standard standards in be-bop, there are also the young crop of jazzers, some of who were on display that night at Birdland, exploring music in a new avenue, and while it's jazz, it's not jazz in the be-bop sense of what was going on in the 60s. Of course I didn't want to blow my deal with these people and say that to them, and I'm flattered that they want to include me in on this DVD project even though I don't really view my music as jazz. But that's another story.
I think music of all forms has taken a beating by the lack of education, again a subject we touched upon that night at Birdland with my friend. I was lucky in that I was in the House of. Because of my parent's involvement in jazz and music overall, I took an interest and fortunately showed talent at an early age and decided at 11 to study classical music and flute, all with the idea of becoming a musician one day a perfectly real career choice. I was listening to Stravinsky by the age of 8 alongside the Beatles. I was studying Mozart and Debussey in my teens while listening to Steeley Dan, Stevie Wonder, Chick Corea and funk music. I was playing in an orchestra doing Mahler and Dvorjak by age 16 while dancing to and appreciating Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Oingo Boingo. And there was the ever constant flow of original jazz music my parents were composing and playing at home.
I'm not writing this to try and impress, but rather to impress upon the fact that I don't think there are kids in these age groups today who are exposed to such a variety of really deep music, at least not in the U.S. and perhaps some from other countries might find this to be true as well. The government and the educational system is definitely at fault here, and I hate to say it but parents as well. If it's not part of people's environment, how else are they going to develop an appreciation towards it?
Music is definitely a language. The different "tongues" and slangs are the different styles, whether it's jazz or classical or whatever, but first there are the ABCs (the notes). From there you develop your language (the melodies and songs), learn to string together your sentences (the scales), then understand the meaning behind the words (the chords), and so forth. If the language is foreign to you, well, you're not going to want to communicate or understand. It's too hard a work, a
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