Being a promoter of jazz, I'm often asked the question: "Is Jazz dying?" I submit a resounding NO!
Of course naysayers point to the fact that jazz radio is virtually non-existent; and there has been a general emphasis on less challenging forms of musical entertainment.
The airplay issue is significant. Clear Channel, Radio One, and other radio conglomerates, thanks to lax laws, have managed to control and monopolize whole radio markets; thereby controlling the access for the type of music that is played.
Unfortunately, Jazz is not a high priority. These conglomerates will state that no one listens to jazz on the radio, thereby causing decreased ad revenue. I disagree; in fact there is a concerted effort to silence jazz throughout the entertainment industry and news media.
The recent changes in internet licensing laws, penalizing independent internet jazz radio stations by unreasonable fees, is a blatant attempt to suppress the music.
The media is also complicit. Two weeks ago, the Los Angeles Times announced they would stop covering jazz in their music section. Locally, the Cincinnati Enquirer has never been friendly to jazz efforts I have promoted. There are amazing musicians in this region; you heard four of them at Jaspers Thursday night. Yet, their world class music is not given the proper respect or media play in this city.
Those are the issues. I have stated that jazz is NOT dead; far from it. But that means nothing if I don't have answers to how the music can sustain itself in a hostile environment.
First off, I believe the fact that Barack Obama has been elected President is a boon for jazz and all arts. He has historically been very supportive of the arts; giving more exposure nationally to the musically will have enormous benefits locally.
Locally, we can model the effort to support jazz on the Obama Presidential Campaign. No, I don't mean canvassing door-to-door, or making phone calls. Rather reach out to your friends and associates to talk about jazz, and where you can hear top quality New York Style Jazz.
Third: talk to the young people, and expose them to jazz. On a personal level, I know this approach works. My son, age 14, is an avid Lee Morgan and Coltrane fan. I let him hear the music at a very early age; (18 months!), and he has grown to appreciate jazz as well as other forms of music.
Jazz music continues to evolve; that is the nature of the music. The popularity will increase as more people are constructively introduced to the music. Above all else, everyone needs to know that jazz is a living, breathing, vital, fun music that can be enjoyed by all!
See you Thursday at Jaspers in Mt Lookout!