[Dixielandjazz] Jazz Fans

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Jul 2 14:49:35 PDT 2004

Noticed a fan letter in June's "American Rag" stating that the recent
Atlanta Jazz Party was a waste of talent, because, among other things:

1. The writer didn't like the music he was "fed".

2. In his opinion, most jazz lovers like polyphonic harmony as in
ensemble playing over other jazz forms.

3. Fine ensemble players were there, but not "utilized" properly in Tpt,
Cl, Tb front lines.

4. Two sets of two guitars, (Howard Alden and Buckey Pizzarelli) was one
two many.

5. Four sets of two reeds (Bob Wilbur and Evan Christopher) supported by
Mark Shane, Phil Flanagan and Ed Metz Jr. who were about to produce a
CD, was much too much.


Now I have no problem with whether a fan likes or dislikes certain jazz
music, or certain musicians. But, how can one say that Alden and
Pizzarelli are only worth one set? These two guitarists are among the
GIANTS of jazz, swing like crazy and play some of the best creative jazz
one will ever hear.

Or that Wilbur and Christopher are not worth 4 sets, because it is not
THE preferred front line? Wilbur has been an OKOM GIANT for 60 years,
and Christopher is well on his way to achieving that status. Not to
mention the swinging jazz expertise of Shane, Metz Jr., and Flanagan.

And then to down the Atlanta Jazz Party very publicly because "most jazz
fans" prefer a trad front line, playing ensemble in polyphonic harmony?
Give me a break.

Dear fans, if you don't like a jazz festival, or jazz party by all means
make your opinion known, but to that festival or party where they can
promptly round file it if they choose. As a jazz musician, not dependent
on festivals, (thank God) I still resent a public criticism via letter
to the Rag that denigrates some of the finest jazz musicians in the
world today. And please do not speak for "most fans". If the group at
Atlanta was making a CD of what you heard, obviously they have a lot of
fans who they think will buy it.

Here is what trumpeter Max Kaminski said about the state of jazz so 50
years ago: (QUOTE)

"It came out of the raw stuff of life but Jazz, like Dr. Frankenstein,
had all unwittingly created a monster in its own image. . . the jazz
addict . . . who, in becoming all hopped up about . . . its significance
as an art form very nearly snuffed the life out of it. . . Jazz no
longer belonged to the musicians and the dancers. It was taken over lock
stock and barrel by the fans, the addicts, the record collectors, the
amateur critics, the promoters . . . the lecturers, the writers. These
were the people who now decided what was jazz and what wasn't, who
dictated how it should be played and upon what instrument, and specified
who could or could not play jazz."

Perhaps that is why most jazz fans today are not particularly OKOM jazz

Hmmm, wasn't it Sacramento Jubilee promoters who, a while back, even
graded the musicians upon their dress? That if you were not in matching
"uniform" you were downgraded and might not be invited back? Regardless
of musical expertise? What did that produce besides many bands that
looked good but played badly at various OKOM festivals around the USA?
Fooling the jazz addicts?

Good Heavens, that reminds me of another quote from that venerable swamp
sage, Pogo who wisely said:
"We have met the enemy and they is us."

>From a jazz musician's point of view, there is a positive coming out of
the demise of many OKOM festivals as we now know them, and from the
dying off of the current fan base. That positive is then FREEDOM to
creative the music again and many of us are already there playing OKOM
for the new, untainted, audience.

Steve Barbone

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