[Dixielandjazz] Diluting "Jazz" Festivals?

Nancy Giffin nancyink at ulink.net
Sun Nov 2 15:00:58 PST 2003

FROM: "Mike Durham" <mikedurham_jazz at hotmail.com>
[Excerpts from his Nov. 2 post]:
> ... Most of the for-profit, professionally-run "jazz" festivals I have
> knowledge of include a steadily decreasing proportion of any jazz at all,
> let alone OKOM...
> ... The more this happens, with other music being sold under the banner of
jazz, the more the whole idea of real jazz is liable to get diluted and
submerged in a sea of populism...
> ... I agree it would be good to attract a younger audience, but if I can't
> find ways of doing this without diluting the jazz content of the festival,
> frankly, I'd rather quit - I'm in this primarily to play the music I love and
> to hear it being played by others. Yours in full old curmudgeon mode,
> Mike D.

While I appreciate this sentiment from volunteers like Mike and others,
there is some merit in "diluting" (to use Mike's expression) jazz festivals
for the sake of expanding the audience.

For example, I have young friends who love the blues. I can't get them to
join me at a monthly jazz society meeting here in Sacramento, but when I
told them that their favorite blues band was playing at the Jazz Jubilee,
they agreed to meet me there. By the time I met up with them, they had
already seen several trad jazz bands and discovered some of it to their
liking. They were raving about one clarinet player named Otis. When they
described him, I realized they were talking about Otis Mourning, formerly of
Wooden Nickel and now with Catsnjammer.

Now would I be able to get them to join me at a jazz society meeting?
Maybe if I tell them that Otis Mourning is playing. :)

I agree with Steve, Tom, and Norrie that quality is more important than
quantity. If my blues and rock n' roll friends are going to be introduced to
trad jazz, I want them to have the most favorable first impression possible.

"Meet Me Where They Play the Blues" "A Hundred Years from Today"

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