AFRO-AMERICAN MUSIC INSTITUTE CELEBRATES 36 YEARS
Pain Relief Beyond Belief
I'm only 67 years old so I don't relate well to jazz before the hard bop era. One thing I know is that the period between the mid 50's and mid 60's produced the music that is most pleasing to me. My experience, to a great degree, is through records and now CDs. Blue Note, Prestige, Riverside and World Pacific were the labels that put out most of the "hits." I say it like that because I was able to connect an artist to a hit record such as Groove Holmes to Misty, Horace Silver to Song For My Father, Cannonball to Jive Samba, Jimmy Smith to many like Back At The Chicken Shack and Walk On The Wild Side, Kenny Burrell to Chitlins' Con Carne, Jazz Crusaders to Young Rabbits and Gene Ammons to Angel Eyes. You get the idea. After the 60's this concept stopped. I think the best way to get people introduced to jazz is through the classics of that era.
Since most of the greats are dead what is still alive is their records. I would like to hear the music of this era played on the radio consistently since so much of what is programmed is for the benefit of the program director/DJ/ record label and not for the audience. With that in mind the audience can then be fed some worthy new recordings mixed with the ones by familiar artists. Anyone who thinks that jazz on the air, or released for that matter, is the equal of the past just doesn't understand the circumstances that created those recordings. No longer are the clubs alive, no longer are the producers young and full of the passion and most importantly no longer are the innovators and creators of this great music in the studios to write and record it.
Nelson, I'm a believer that jazz without education is dead. People need a reason to care. It always starts with the music. Your comment about sidemen is relevant to me. Blue Note and Prestige were great practitioners of giving a good sidemen an opportunity and matching players.
I also feel that presenting jazz in a concert setting saps the life and passion from it. The interaction between player and audience in a club where I'm ten feet away is exciting.
I think only a non-profit that shares our vision and experience can make it possible. Young artists need to work out their material before recordings by getting feedback from the potential paying customer. They need hard times, not Berklee as a teacher.
Obviouly...some folks have not been following certain folks on the air. While to markey the music to the public is the goal, a lot of us were never part of the payola game to push certain records on the air. That is NOT how you further the Jazz legacy. The truth is in the music and the knowledge and information you pass on. Not how popular you are to a certain group of people as is the case here and in many parts of the country.
Joining a 6-year-old discussionis odd, but I'm surprised to learn that a love of jazz got underway in the hard bop era. I think of jazz as being an aquired taste, , including accessibility and progression. Most Western ears, hearing Chinese music for the first time, would find it pleasing, I don't believe. But a billion or so Chinese must. I had the advantage as a kid of hearing my sisters play big band or New Orleans type music on a wind-up victrola over and over. That;s what was constantly on the radio and all the juke boxes. That's what I mean by accessible. As for progression, I then adapted quickly to what Bird, Diz, and Thelonius were doing. I have a hard time believing that someone growing up with country/western musicwould latch on to bebop or bop without having had some form of jazz or swing as a forerunner. What I didn't like about the fifties was that great rhythm-and-blues was transformed into rock-and-roll by dumbing down the syncopated beats of jazz and blues. Dixieland evolved into John Coltrane. Elvis Presley evolved into grunge---whatever that is. But jazz has not entirely lost its voice or a devoted following. Young players are coming out of University programs in surprising numbers.