Saturday, August 23, 2014

Head, Refrain

On my musical LinkedIn recently, there was a question about jazz.  Specifically, whether or not the recent attention and flurry of words about the genre were helping to keep jazz "marginalized".

I don't think Jazz is marginalized so much, as simply ignored by most. Much of this, unfortunately, has to do with overriding truths in the Justin Moyer Washington Post piece: a lot of jazz music today is perceived as "elevator music" (in the same way Classical is cast off as "stuffy" or "fusty") ... There continues to be an overreliance on the tried and true, but increasingly tired, "American songbook" comprising "standards" ... and along these lines, too much jazz is performed lazily, going through motions without any e-motion: smiling blankly, pausing significantly, "This next song...". Or the predicable 'insert bass solo here' live jazz moment.

Beyond this, there is the ridiculously furious circling of wagons whenever attention IS brought to Jazz. "Kenny G" mutterings, for example, if anyone inside gets too popular ... or admonishments, in no uncertain terms, to 'leave jazz alone!!' if anyone outside comes to play. Witness the Django Gold / "Sonny Rollins" New Yorker debacle (on which, incidentally, I also blew).

Frankly, I think I could've pulled that one off better than Django ... but I get what he was trying to do. Too many refuse to.

As long as Jazz remains disinterested in making an effort or expanding its appeal, it's going to keep being d(ism)issed ... Not "marginalized", because nobody's marginalizing Jazz except insiders - the jazz community itself.

"L'Esprit de Jazz", ©Jeff Glovsky