[JPL] blue note, so what?

OntheBeach at aol.com OntheBeach at aol.com
Mon Jul 25 14:31:16 EDT 2005

as if all the infighting through the ages hasn't been destructive enough  for 
 [we would be that much stronger if we could all get along/agree a  little 
it remains the domain and perogative of the radio programmer to choose what  
he or she wishes to offer to their listeners and everyone is entitled to their 
 opinions--but it's amazing how little some folks understand the dynamic of th
e  jazz record business to this day.
we could (and no doubt will), vamp endlessly upon the art/commerce  conundrum 
but when i read or hear about criticism and indifference towards any  
committed jazz label or entity it gives me pause...
whether one loves everything currently being released or not, how could  
ANYONE be indifferent or uncaring about Blue Note???  is their commitment  to jazz 
to be questioned???
louisx at verizon.net writes:

norah  jones, no way. she sounds like soft rock. that she put money in
>the  blue note bank, so what? blue note has been putting out some
>dreadful  CDs. there is little left on their roster that plays straight
>ahead.  and i wonder what all the musicians who made blue note what it
>is,that  are no longer under contract,must think of some of the artists
>who are  on blue note these days

if blue note tanked would you still say so what?  dreadful CDs?  haven't they 
been putting out some superb discs too?
let's wish every jazz label of note catches a surprise left field hit now  
and then--the business will be healthier and more vibrant as a result...its  
those unexpected commercial surprises that often provide the jazz executive (at  
any size label) the means and latitude to strtch out and be more daring: to 
take  more chances, to give more artists opportuntites or support...
blue note has "little left that plays straight ahead?" huh?!
don't you think all the blue note artists from the past are happy that blue  
note continues to thrive/survive and that so much of their work continues to 
be  available?  seems to me bruce and tom, et al represent a wonderfully  
diverse, largely steeped-in-the-tradition roster of artists...and how many  labels 
are building substantial, long-term catalogs with important players? [or  
aren't the Osby's, Lovanos, Morans, Rubulcabas et al important?] 
times change, business conditions change...audiences change...
like a successful jazz musician a successful jazz executive masters the art  
of improvisation: rolling with the changes.  not many executives get to  
experience fronting a jazz operation within a major corporation and as a result  
few understand the realities and pressures that exist there.  take it from  a 
former corporate jazz warrior...
its exhilirating/challenging/frustrating
yes, hooray (always! for the indies--they will always be crucial to all  
forms of recorded music)
but does anyone want to see the majors get out of the jazz business? to put  
their great catalogs in mothballs?
i remember a time (early 80s) when the Blue Note catalog was NOT available  
and the label was not active.  capital records was a client.  i  approached 
their president about going into the vaults to put together a reissue  
series--the response "there wasn't enough revenue to bother with  it." 
i related this story to bruce whose response was "let's try to buy  it".
wish i had been in the position!  fortunately for everyone who loves  jazz 
and Blue Note around the world, bruce got into a position in the next  couple of 
years to take the reins and resurrect Blue Note--its to his and his  team's 
credit (with the occassional surprise, a bobby mcferrin here, a  norah jones 
there) that he's held onto to them so well, for so long.
the world of jazz is the richer for it...
a sudden regime change at a major and even the most successful jazz  
divisions can be threatened...the star making machinery has its benefits  too...that 
some artists can attain a greater level of exposure and celebrity  [wynton, 
joshua redman, pat metheny, al jarreau, diana krall-yes, she is a jazz  artist, 
herbie hancock etc etc] is GOOD for the music...we need to develop  artist 
careers and we need to develop new stars...
some artists elect to make more commercial recordings to attract larger  
audiences to their concerts and club dates so they can present more  challenging 
musicin a context more amenable to stretching out.  the  recording (read 
broadcast for example) medium and the live performance medium  obvuiously are very 
different.  it's all good...
an interesting thing: setting aside the fact that ALL record folks want  
radio to play more of THEIR artists records, i don't hear record people  
criticizing radio folks and how they do their jobs anywhere near as much as i  hear 
radio folks criticizing how record folks go about their business.   everyone 
seems to think A & R is easy.
let's keep in mind too, we live in the information age--EVERYONE has  
diminshed attention spans in our now seemingly all A-D-D culture.  for  artists and 
labels, it can be frustrating how
little time radio, journalists et al have available to review a project,  yet 
it is understood that everyone has piles of work! 
my hats off to today's promotion executives--their task is much harder than  
mine was...time was you could always talk to someone or leave a message with  
someone.  today there is email, Vmail and the ever present computer  
terminal...the quality of conversations today (when they actuall take place!) is  
considerable less than it used to be.
ok, enough....long live Blue Note! and all the other committed jazz labels  
large and small.
ricky schultz

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