[JPL] Black vs White

MFA - Jazz Publicity & Radio Promotion MitchellFeldmanAssociates at Comcast.net
Wed Nov 8 16:50:06 EST 2006

Interesting discussion.

I don't choose the music I listen to or play on my radio program or  
promote through my business based on a person's color nor do I think  
do any of us.  Either the music is good or it isn't.  Period.

Yet the audience for jazz has historically been white either in a  
live context or as far as consumers who buy jazz sound recordings are  
concerned.  The executives running jazz labels have historically been  
white.  The publicists and promoters working the music to press and  
radio have historically  been white.  Journalists writing about jazz  
have historically been white.  The majority of the people programming  
jazz radio today are white (i.e. music directors / jazz directors /  
program directors).

Until I pointed it out to the owners of the 2 jazz labels I have run  
(CMP in Germany, Synergy Music in Denver), neither had cared that  
there was not a single title in the catalogue where the lead artist  
was black and very few if any of the sidemen were black.

I am currently on a panel (95% white) at Augusta State University to  
choose artists for a concert series as part of a jazz curriculum in  
the winter of 2007 and after suggestion after suggestion was made I  
seemed to be the only one to notice that none of the artists being  
suggested were black.  So I pointed that out.  Now we have a list of  
possible jazz bands that includes both black and white leaders.

Jazz originated as an American art form that emerged from the African- 
American experience.  Today there are a ton of non-American artists  
playing jazz in Europe and Asia, for example, who are not black.  As  
far as my personal taste is concerned -- and I am not going to even  
attempt to explain it (or understand it or question it or analyze it  
-- the majority of the music I enjoy outside Western classical music  
is created by non-whites.

Any venture involving jazz that is monochromatic from either a black  
or a white perspective is not representing the current complexion of  
the art form as well as it can.  The same goes for gender -- not sure  
what the make-up of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra is today but I  
do know that Wynton has gotten grief for not having a woman in the  
core band (they already got into trouble re: age discrimination and  
racial discrimination.)  Of cours the gender issue is not reserved to  
jazz -- the venerable Vienna Philharmonic is picketed every time it  
appears at Carnegie Hall for not having "enough" women.

M 2 ¢


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