[Dixielandjazz] OKOM Reviews

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet@earthlink.net
Sat, 29 Jun 2002 10:37:52 -0400

Rebecca Thompson asks why no critical reviews for Dixieland/OKOM in the
news media.

Jazz Jerry also asked, and Jim Beebe agreed it is a good point.

The NY Times has on occasion reviewed OKOM in it's broadest definitions.
Recent reviews included Vince Giordano's Nighthawks in their
performances at the Cajun in NYC. Specifically mentioned with some
praise were Vince, Jon Erik Kelso and Dan Levinson, all familiar OKOM
names. They also reviewed the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band farewell
performance which to my ears included about 20% OKOM renditions of songs
from the 20s & 30s. They also review New Orleans Jazz at Lincoln Center
several times a year.

However, most other media do not do even that. OKOM is pretty much
ignored. I think because the newspaper audience is much younger than the
average OKOM fan, and that the reviewers are also of a different
generation. So their knowledge of the current OKOM scene is minimal. The
reviewers write for the audience, just like musicians play for the
audience. Result, no OKOM reviews.

Also, most jazz reviews, at least in the NY Times are of bands playing
in the local club scene. Other than Giordano, there is very little club
scene in NYC that features OKOM. I suspect that's true all over the USA.
In fact the total US OKOM scene is pretty small and well out of the
mainstream in jazz here today.

And today's OKOM bands are generally not as good as past OKOM bands like
Eddie Condon's group's, or Turk Murphy, or the groups that Jim Beebe and
Don Ingle et al, played in several decades ago. Harsh as it may be, most
of  today's festival bands are not on a par with those of the past.
Perhaps the reviewers in the American Rag and Mississippi Rag are
reluctant to gild the lily. Even a festival like Sacramento, features
headliners that stretch the boundaries of OKOM. The Sacramento media
might choose to review the Stars of the Lawrence Welk Show in preference
to the Dixieland Bands. And why not? They are the featured acts.

>From my own experiences, I've seen reviews by jazz club newsletters that
are way overblown, touting bands that are just one step above awful.
Better just an appearance note with the songs they played than such
obvious junk reviews.

With every passing day, we lose audience in the USA for OKOM. We are
less and less visible. Best advice to reverse that trend, is to play
where the younger generations are. IN THE YOUNG PEOPLE'S CLUBS. Beebe
said it all when he advised a young man to stop talking about it and
start playing it. My only addition to that advice would be to play it to
the younger audiences. Play it well, and the reviews will come.

Steve Barbone