rick at jazzrockworld.com
Tue Aug 1 20:47:54 EDT 2006
Great observation Jae,
I'm not sure that "core problem" is the right expression, as I'm not sure
that Jazz has a core problem. It does have an image, exposure, market share,
etc. "issue" that most broadcasters appear to talk about frequently.
"listening vs. hearing" is a good analogy for other aspects of these issues
I'm sure my comments about Mr. Marsalis pissed a lot more people off that
just yourself and my retort probably convinced the rest of my heresy. On the
other hand, these issues about Jazz are identical to the issues with Fusion,
except that Fusion is not considered Jazz in the US (at least no one really
answered the question about that).
I'm going to come back to your worthy statement that I crossed the line and
suggest that it's that very line I crossed that is the real issue for Jazz
in the US. Even though, while I said I meant to be offensive and hope to
cross many lines - I can't take that back, it's out there. I can certainly
say that it wasn't the best choice of words and if I had it to do over, I
probably would have been a little (ok, a lot) less inflammatory. I was out
of line and accept that and apologize for bad manners. Furthermore, while
there should be no right vs. wrong, I will say that my poor choice of words
does not make my point invalid.
In support of that, I'm going to ask that if there was a line that I
crossed, exactly what line is it? Looking through the previous posts and
trying to make sense of all my remarks, it would seem my poor articulation
is a clear issue. I do the best I can, and often think I'm misunderstood
only to find out that I just wasn't very articulate in the first place. So,
it's difficult to speak out and be the torch bearer for a cause when that
torch is burning down the house.
I'm going to make a defensive remark about my post that I feel should be
brought up and then get back to your excellent observation. If those critics
and musicians who were interviewed and spoke down about Fusion were actually
speaking the truth and the facts, that creates a problem. Basically, they
are telling everyone in the world that thinks Fusion is Jazz and likes it,
that they are liking a worthless non Jazz style of music. I disagree.
Getting back to your observation, I see the exact same thing at Fusion
concerts. I've watched certain bands play something absolutely incredible,
intuitive, inspirational, and wonderful, only to look around and see people
just not getting it. As you say, they are listening not hearing. Maybe they
had a bad day and just aren't ready to enjoy themselves. Maybe they are just
not paying attention. Maybe they forgot that they are there to be
entertained and were expecting a "different" kind of entertainment. Who
The point here is that with Fusion, just like Jazz, you can't be a casual
listener. Jazz and Fusion are NOT elevator music. The listener must be aware
of what's going on musically - it's serious stuff. Like Dr. Levin points
out, there's only about one third of the population that will even
appreciate what Jazz or Fusion has to offer because of the type of music it
is - creative and spontaneous.
How does all that translate into more listeners? Well, that's the 64 million
dollar question, isn't it...
P.S. I think that if Jazz and Fusion stick to their "core values" there
won't be a "core problem"
From: jazzproglist-bounces at jazzweek.com
[mailto:jazzproglist-bounces at jazzweek.com] On Behalf Of Jae Sinnett
Sent: Tuesday, August 01, 2006 11:30 AM
To: Jazz Programmers Mailing List
Subject: [JPL] Programming/Musicians
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Eric Hines post made me thing about this....... Perhaps it was the shock of
him agreeing with me on something that triggered it. Messin with you Eric.
My thread about what I view as the core problem with jazz and it's
audience stems from my observations as a musician. This is why I say it's
all connected. I don't know if this will make sense but imagine programming
and being able to see the faces of your audience - while you're programming.
Many times on stage I've looked out at the audience to see their physical
reactions to the music. It's a study for sure. Many times I've altered or
changed the play list on stage based on what I've seen. I've also learned
much about the reactions of the listeners in response to various musical
This past Saturday evening we played a club. I remember playing our
arrangement of "Love For Sale" and Allen Farnham playing this killin piano
solo. After he finished I looked out at the audience and watched about half
of the crowd applaud. The other half looked like they were auditioning for a
part in "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers" after the pods invaded their body.
Then we played a ballad - "Lover Man" - and everyone applauded after the
piece - hence the romantism Eric talked about. Then a high energy Brazilian
original and the place stood up and gave us love.
Now what I didn't say is that I talked with them before we played that
Brazilian number. Explained a little bit about what they were getting ready
to hear because it was fairly involved. The expressions were radically
different while I was talking with them. A total sense of "listening" vs
"hearing." There is a difference. When you listen to something you're more
likely to retain. And what' s even more interesting you get the same
expressions and sense of "listening" when you start playing the piece you
just talked about. Before we played "Love For Sale" I said nothing and for
most of the piece a good portion of the crowd looked somewhat un-interested
- even considering how much piano Allen was playing. I talked about this in
an earlier post about jazz sounding like a foreign language to many of these
folk - until you give them a better point of departure - and this is a clear
example of that. When you can see the effect you have it can change your
Now granted this is live performance and the energy level is different but
it certainly applies to jazz radio programming in my book and I've learned
from it. The next time you're at a live jazz performance check the reaction
of the audience when the artists talk to them vs when they don't.
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