[JPL] name recognition (de l'ouest, rien de nouveau)

Peter Sokolowski psokolowski at merriam-webster.com
Tue Jul 6 17:06:36 EDT 2004

Mr Jazz, Dr Jazz, Monsieur Jazz, Madame Jazz:

Sure.  You *know* your history.  So leave it in the vaults.  Let the
listeners go to the museums to figure it out.  After all, there's the
Louis Armstrong House museum in Queens, and...and...um.  

Jazz is not pop music in 2004.  It doesn’t draw and it doesn't earn.  

Jazz is not 'classical' music in 2004.  A static repertoire does
violence to new artists and creativity.  

But there's "new" symphonic music too.  Should classical music radio
hosts only program music by living composers with new releases and gigs
to plug?

Would YOU listen to that format?  Who would profit?  Not the audience,
which  would become increasingly unaware of the traditions as they
existed before the "new" music, the context in which young composers
evolve.  The surest way to kill interest in an art supported by an
already aging demographic is to cut the art form itself off at the root.

But of course the very suggestion is silly.  Sounds like Jonathan Swift.
No Beethoven, Mozart or Vivaldi?  

And yet we have folks who love jazz seriously promoting a modest
proposal of their own.  Who would profit?

Panassié and Hodeir were theoretical polemicists.  Their culture
(Montaigne, Descartes, Voltaire, Sainte-Beuve) taught them to classify
and describe things as they saw them.  One thought that there was no
such thing as new jazz and one thought that there was no such thing as
old jazz.

As much as we would like to promote only living, gigging artists and
their shows, where will the understanding of what they do come from
without the history of the music being intelligently presented?  More
importantly, where will THEIR audience learn to love and respect what
they do?

But let's forget even that pragmatic argument for a moment.  Will Benny
Green or Walt Weiskopf (both great players) ever mean what Thelonious
Monk and Coleman Hawkins mean to American culture?  

Think of the names that can't be heard on commercial radio:  Louis,
Miles, Duke, Basie, Ella, even Ray Charles.  This is our native art
form, folks.  If we don't play it, nobody will.  The cultural
impoverishment inherent in that idea is breathtaking.

I believe that the new artists and their CDs *should* be a part of any
healthy programming policy.  But when it's the 4th of July, don't
interrupt the Louis Armstrong (yes, I know when the real birthday is).
Ain't none play like him yet.  

A healthy diet of programming must include the context and the history
of this music, because it is an aural tradition (pun intended).  If it's
not heard, it is truly dead.  There is no such thing as old jazz or new
jazz, only jazz that you haven't heard.

If you think your job is to sell CDs and concert tickets, then you are a
jazz DJ for different reasons than I am.  

Good thread, much food for thought.



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