[Dixielandjazz] Re: Nicholas Peyton's change in musical direction

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Wed Sep 10 22:20:44 PDT 2003

> TCASHWIGG at aol.com wrote: (polite snips)
> Personally I would love to see him stay with his roots and play New Orleans
> Jazz, his departure to more modern styles may work but I am afraid he will lose
> the wonderful audience he as gained the respect of and whom have come to
> expect him to play their kind of music.  I doubt seriously that many if any will
> embrace his new direction in music.

Perhaps, however he may gather a ton of 'new" fans who already embrace the direction in which he is going. And will
spend the money to hear him, or to buy his CDs.

> Many fine artists like Nicholas feel compelled to stay on the cutting edge
> and constantly seek the NEW TRUTH in music and often trade the well deserved
> large audience and fan base for an elite group of literati and end up playing for
> only other like minded musicians and professors.

They also, like Tom and I, seek to make a living playing music. Personally, I think Peyton is traveling down the road
that Miles Davis that Miles Davis pioneered.

> Audiences outside the USA folks, like Traditional American Jazz, Blues and
> Gospel and embrace it as our only contribution to World Culture.

There is also a huge audience for the techno-speak jazz, funk what ever you wish to call it. And it is probably much
larger than that which exists presently for OKOM.

> Many countries that we play in are at least thirty years behind the USA in
> culture, while it is true that we are often the trend setters of the world, we
> must also understand that we change every six months because of our great media
> power and advertising marketplace.

Obviously clear from a total reading of Tom's post (even this abridged version) that he was talking about jazz, not
"Kultur". He got a bad rap from some folks who were out too long in the noonday sun. ;-) VBG Joke, etc.

> This is why Louis Armstrong is still so popular all over the world, and most
> of the same folks have never even heard of Miles Davis yet.  Nicholas gained a
> great reputation in Europe because of his New Orleans style, now to desert it
> for electronic experimentation he may well find himself losing the wonderful
> market he has gained and earned the respect of as a great musician.

Louis was THE MAN. Nobody else like him. But consider what Miles accomplished.  He changed the direction of jazz
several times during his life whether we like it or not. And he did it HIS WAY, by controlling his destiny. AND, he
became very wealthy doing it. Materially. he had it all, from Ferraris to a bevy of beautiful women. And still today,
his album "Kind of Blue" is a top selling jazz record as well as having perhaps been the top selling jazz record of
all time. Yes, he had an abrasive personality, we all love to hate him, but the bottom line is that he was a jazz
musician who made it big AS HE DEFINED "big".  How do we spell SUCCESS?

Perhaps, just perhaps, Nicholas Peyton is thinking, "Hey Miles made millions of dollars in jazz so I am going to
follow his lead. I don't have a snowball's chance in hell making millions in OKOM"  Why might Nicholas Peyton think

1) He was one of the top N.O. trumpet players in the early 1990s. Yet I'll bet at least half of us on this list have
neither heard of him, nor have one of his albums.

2) Most of the  OKOM audience in the USA at least, IMO, is so wrapped up in the past that it doesn't ever listen to
much of the OKOM that today's bands play. Most OKOM bandleaders I talk to have stacks of CDs sitting in their garages
for lack of sales. Yeah, the 10,000 or so folks that go to festivals may listen, but who among us has sold 10,000 of
one CD to them? Or 5000?  And damn few have sold 1000.

3) Even today's excellent players, like Jon Erik Kellso, are unknown to much of the OKOM audience as far as CD sales
to them go, or as far as actually ever having heard him go. The band he played with in Ascona, won best in show
there. Yet it has never performed in the USA. So what is he forced to do? Tour Europe (he leaves shortly if not
already there). Why isn't there an audience demand for him to tour the USA?

4) Giants like Davern, Peplowski, et al, can't make a living in OKOM so they broaden their musical offering. And,
while I can't speak for him, I hear Jim Buchman, (a stellar OKOM reed player) is sitting around in Florida without
much work. I also hear he is presently considering a move to Canada because he is sick and tired of not being able to
afford simple things like Health Insurance here. With few exceptions, there just is not much money to be made on the
OKOM scene as it exists in the USA today.

Peyton? He may be, in large measure, doing the techno experiments because he thinks he will make a better living
following the trail that Miles Davis blazed. No doubt he thinks the new audience will be larger and more profitable.
And he may damn well be right. A man with his musical talent should be highly paid for it. No starving artist need

The existing OKOM audience is very small and for the most part, very insular, very particular, with narrow, tastes.
Even John Farrell doesn't want to hear the WYSIWYG jazz band (described by others on the list as one of the best OKOM
bands in the USA) because it doesn't include a piano. That's fine with me, each to his own, but it describes the
existing OKOM audience perfectly.  Bad enough that it is a small audience, to begin with, worse yet that it is highly
segmented within the genre. So most of it doesn't listen to more than a few OKOM bands, or players.

Two solutions for "working" musicians as I see it.  Find a new audience for OKOM like Wiggins and I and some others
do, or play a different type of jazz music that will appeal to a broader jazz audience like Peyton is attempting to

Failing that, OKOM bands can opt to make a few old folks jazz festivals and/or play free, in small restaurants or
pubs, for 5 or 10 punters who for one reason or another like your particular band.

Steve Barbone

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