[JPL] Jazz educators go south

Jazz Promo Services jazzpromo at earthlink.net
Sat Apr 26 14:55:15 EDT 2008

Jazz Beyond Jazz
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation


Jazz educators go south
Another victim of global economics? Or of flawed leadership? The 40-year-old
International Association for Jazz Education has announced its bankruptcy,
following an ill-attended conference in Toronto and unexpected departures by
its executive director and president. "Industry of jazz" players are
shocked, shocked! 
As reported by my friend Paul de Barros, jazz critic of the Seattle Times,
the annual IAJE conference, which over the past decade has served as an
unrivaled meeting ground for jazz-oriented musicians, students, educators,
academic institutions, instrument manufacturers, record companies, festival
producers, music and book publishers, print journalists, broadcasters and
bloggers will not take place as planned in Seattle in January 2009, will not
publish its quarterly journal or follow up on current programs  - - in fact
will disband entirely, leaving some 8,000 members without platform or
representation in a world increasingly marginalizing its mission.

The promotion of jazz music, which has typically been a hit-or-miss venture
dependent on individual initiative around localized projects, will again
(still) be without a widely rooted, non-commercial umbrella organization
based in the U.S., a la the Country Music Association, Chamber Music
America, the Poetry Foundation or for that matter the Jazz Journalists
Association. The Jazz Alliance International, a consortium originally meant
to include fans, musicians, record labels, producer-presenters and magazine
publishers, was folded into IAJE two years ago, and has, without formal
announcement, apparently abandoned its activities.\

As usual, the survival of jazz as a unique art-and-entertainment will be up
to those players and listeners (educators and students included) who most
live it and love it. The IAJE may fall, but jazz will carry on. That fact
runs counter to the disturbing spin of IAJE's attorney Alan Bergman (also
prominent in the Jazz Alliance International and the rights deals by Blue
Note Records for historic albums such as the heralded Thelonious Monk with
John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall), who said:

"A bunch of jazz musicians formed this organization and it grew into a
multimillion-dollar operation with a huge convention and a big staff and big
journal, but it was still run by a volunteer board elected by the membership
that met twice a year."

Don't blame the musicians -- IAJE ex-executive director Bill McFarlin and
his board were jazz teachers and administrators, not creators. American jazz
musicians long ago learned to work cheap and act wily; no musician-run
organization (like the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians
or even the American Federation of Musicians) has ever racked up a
million-dollar deficit from its operations. Such a group would be both
unlikely to bite off so much more than they could chew and unable to
convince anyone to extend them such credit anyway. No, I think to know how
the IAJE debacle happened, we ought to press its suits.

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