[JPL] My Comments: Wynton & More

Ron Gill ron_gill at verizon.net
Tue Mar 6 15:23:22 EST 2007

Reading comments on the list regarding Wynton Marsalis makes me have to make a statement on my opinion. 
There are others besides Wynton who can speak for this music and most of us know who they are, Billy Taylor is one that comes to mind. 
I saw Dr. Taylor for a minute in the lobby of the hotel at IAJE and told him how much I missed him on ‘Sunday Morning’ the CBS program. He immediately told me that the current host was not that supportive of jazz as the previous host was for many years.
Jazz suffers from the lack of spokespersons in the major media marketplace. In my opinion, because those who were lovers of jazz are  slowly passing on and the current professionals in their place did not hear or listen to jazz as they grew up, thus, I can understand the Oprah situation. Imagine what would happen if she was a jazz fan, selling jazz as she does books.
I respect our colleague Tom Mallison so much because he has put himself in a position to talk about jazz at every opportunity. Some of us in radio host concerts, perform at concerts, do interviews as hosts and performers, and that should give us all an opportunity to speak about the music, engage the audience and invite them to bring their children to jazz programs. I have grandchildren too, and while they are experiencing listening to the music of their peers they know jazz is out there because  I perform it as well as play it on the air. Exposure is important. Ask Eric Jackson about his experience bringing his children on his annual Father’s Day programs. 
As programmers we must show respect for those who have an opportunity to speak publicly such as Wynton does. I don’t know the man personally as others may, but while I don’t have to agree with all he says, I give him his due as a musician, producer, spokesman, and activist. We all may not agree with how he operates Lincoln Jazz Center, but what he has done there is important and the jazz programming and that building would not have happened there if it wasn’t for him.
Look at what happened at Carnegie Hall with the demise of Jon Faddis’
band. Because someone who came into position who was unable to see the importance of jazz decided to drop the program, we lost an important voice that equaled Wynton’s program, and there is no replacement. The board there had George Wein, and George made a statement at Boston University at a discussion held there a few years ago that he did not challenge the decision because he did not want to pre-judge the new director. I saw that as a missed opportunity from someone who we look up to as an important jazz person and spokesman.
We are all important in the direction jazz takes in this country. We have to figure out a way for all of us to collectively become involved. We are all professionals, working daily, weekly and year round for many years doing what we do, playing and producing jazz music. Musicians, promoters and everyone included in this market depend on us to play their wares. We let them down when we  don’t. Yes, we expect the best out of them and rightly so. We have no choice, and we demand they step up to the plate professionally. But, we get nowhere dissing our contemporaries. I will not voice my opinion as vehemently as I see here. I had a chance meeting with Wynton while attending a performance at Dizzy’s Club last year and Wynton was a gentleman and very personable in our short discussion with each other. I made no indication on what I do, so I was just another customer to him, and that says alot about a person.
We all have opinions, some keep them to themselves, others voice them and that’s ok, but remember, your views may not be the same as others, for many reasons, but respect the views of others and be careful on how you say what you say. You may have to take them back once you realize things are not what they seem.
I agree that we have problems in the marketplace, but it’s not because of the lack of good product. We are caught up in a world that seems to focus on the here and now. People generally don’t hear good music, PERIOD!
It’s a shame that there is no respect and knowledge for what is good in music, and art. There are those out there who find it and love it. We have to do what we do best, make them aware of it.
I’m sorry to see Bob Stockton give it up. I know he does not want to do that. He LOVES what he does. But can you blame him? Any one of us can be in the same situation at any time. Lots of luck to whatever you do, Bob.
To close, there are those on this list who have lots to learn about this music, on what they play, what they know, the history of radio and all that goes with it. We all don’t know everything and that’s the reason for this kind of forum. Being careful of your opinions and how you voice them is important. Listen to those who have been there, and seek them out when there is something you don’t understand. We don’t have to wait for a Jazz Week or IAJE conference to ask questions.
Ron Gill
Jazz Gallery
WGBH 89.7 FM
Boston, MA

Ron Gill

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