[JPL] Crisis! What Crisis?
OntheBeach at aol.com
OntheBeach at aol.com
Fri Aug 11 13:14:15 EDT 2006
thanks bobby for posting the roundtable.
these are interesting and challenging times. today's youth are completely
wired, multi-tasking products of the information age. the old ways where
content aggregators and presenters "pushed" content on the audience are being
supplanted. today people want to
"pull" what they want, when they want it and how they want it. the ground
rules and the landscape are changing rapidly.
as for jazz and jazzy? (smooth jazz) radio:
when is the last time (m)any stations in either format freshened up their
sound and presentation [we're not talking fresh bumpers and promos here either]
? in the information age things move....jazz and smooth jazz radio haven't
"moved" that much.
then there's the great in between: the music that got (largely) left behind
when the smooth jazz format was formalized. for many years Contemporary Jazz
[not smooth] grew in popularity through increased exposure on specialty
shows (including weekends on rock radio: ask russ davis, and urban radio etc).
the real irony is that it was the rise of Contemporary Jazz that spawned the
format but once the format was branded, Contemporary Jazz was tossed out
with the bathwater. Suddenly the post fusion music of Metheny, Duke, Hancock,
Corea, Crusaders, Yellowjackets, Clarke, Michael Franks, Strunz & Farah, Bela
Fleck, Spyro Gyra, etc etc was to a large extent without a home. you couldn't
hear a George Benson track with an extended solo; the biggest, most popular
and in many instances most talented musicians were passed over.
Jazz radio never made much of an attempt to embrace this new branch of the
tree. We're talking about real musicians with real jazz roots. As for smooth
jazz radio, their gold category didn't go back further than the early 90s.
and its not like NPR has made it any easier for jazz programmers to thrive.
hats off to all who still fight the good fight.
suzanne jenkins made a number of good points, including there is "no dearth
of good music"
and the need to take creative approaches to presenting the music on the
how many stations explore via specialty shows that are cutting edge?
KJAZZ/Long Beach has recently added some contemporary groove oriented programs. is
the remix, jazz meets hip-hop stuff getting any love?
don heckman's perspective was very on point: not only placing jazz's
popularity in historical context but in particular that jazz radio isnt playing
enough of, or creating enough massive jazz hits. he also paraphrased george wein
on the dearth of new stars.
its interesting to view jazz radio before and after charts. jazz radio used
to really sink their teeth into certain great albums, and they would enjoy
long rides with repeated focused exposure. that killer track got played on every
shift, every day. this spawned jazz hits and jazz stars. now we see
titles run up and down the flag pole, shorter runs, fewer spins--all in the name
of playing the chart game and appeasing the labels (yes i was a promotion man
for many years too).
and in today's corporate-heavy environment is there a leadership vacuum? on
the label side, there are capable executives overseeing a lot of the jazz
pie--but they are not jazz people for the most part. its not like the days
when all the large companies and many others were run by people who really cared
about the music. you have to look at small independent labels primarily for
that. how often in the past 10 years has a label mounted a serious effort to
break and establish a STAR? the acts that became stars were promoted 52
weeks a year.
the imagery of jazz as sexy hip cool has been co-opted beyond our wildest
imagination: tv commercials, smooth jazz radio, "Jazz" festivals with little
or NO jazz etc etc. it makes on wonder if the gatekeepers of Jazz radio
couldn't co-opt a little too: stretch, freshen, mix.
festivals are a thing onto their own, a collective mass. but on the road
in the clubs, theaters and concert venues where working musicians and bands
slug it out, the audiences are voting: with their time and their pocketbooks.
its curious that so many acts that do well on the road and not so
coincidentally sell lots of CDs are not the beneficiaries of more radio support. still
we have few or no regional coalitions facilitating jazz touring. stations
dont talk to one another much in their regions and
cooperate and create smart tours.
as for radio play, do the math: 10 plays a week (or less?) is heavy
rotation? what percentage of your audience gets to hear that track with enough
repetition to feel your commitment and enthusiasm for it? how do you expect them
to get familiar with it? to embrace it, and want to own it (literally and
play a track once or twice per week? why even bother? perhaps if jazz radio
didn't try so hard to spread the love around quite so much, the entire scene
would benefit. your heart is in the right place but no one benefits from
truly token airplay.
and a little more of that love could be showered on today's jazz musician:
they need it and we need them! i love the classics too, but its no surprise
many people think of jazz as a music of the past--they might have been listening
to the radio!
ask yourself twenty five thirty years from now, what tracks from this era
will stand out
like a "Take Five", "Exodus", "Sidewinder" or gasp! Herbie's "Chameleon",
Grover's "Mr. Magic" ?
and i'll say it again: how about taking the gloves off at IAJE and
addressing the real issues...
Crisis! What Crisis?
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