[Dixielandjazz] Re: Dixieland Youth Band Festival - CONTRTIBUTIONS FOR?

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Mar 4 19:18:55 PST 2005

on 3/4/05 5:23 PM, Tamas Ittzes at bohem at fibermail.hu wrote:

> Steve, Bob and all,
> It's interesting to read two totally different approach of the way
> getting kids involved in jazz and getting existing youth bands to
> participate. In a way, I agree both of you but I think, you simply talk
> about different things. Steve, you are not talking about a competition
> when you mention the ASTA event (as to my understanding). It was a
> festive two or three days where kids got their prizes they received for
> their achievement.

No, it was a national competition. The competing players submitted tapes of
performances in advance. The tapes were then judged and the players ranked.
The winners in each category got to go to Reno NV, for the ASTA Convention
and Awards ceremony. Jonathan Russell won First Prize in the "Jazz Violin
Improvisation under 13 years old category". He is 9.

> That's a different story. A competition in classical
> music, too, ALWAYS requires competitors to pay (generally
> non-refundable) sums in advance.

I am not sure whether there was an entry fee. Possibly there was and I do
not disagree with an entry fee to compete in that situation.

> (I was not aware of the original
> message in details, I don't know if this 50 USD was for ad only or it is
> a kind of application money.) Anyway, competitors have to pay LITTLE and
> then they get back much more - there are free clinics etc., and also, I
> suppose, prizes will be given.

The $50 is for an ad in the STJS festival brochure, to be paid  by
supporters like you and me, not by the bands. Then there is an entry fee
paid by the bands. But, STJS event is not a competition it is chance for
youth bands to play. In the original post about it, there are no prizes or
awards. In the ASTA event, if you didn't win, you got nothing. No clinics,
no prizes, no trip to Reno. NADA.

> Don't pay kids at an early age.

Why not? "J" would feel cheated if he worked 3 hours with us and didn't get
paid like everybody else. What is the difference between a monetary prize
and paying for a gig? With both, you play and someone pays you for what you
played. I think you might benefit seeing Jonathan in action with my band. He
is treated exactly the same way everyone else is. He appreciates that
courtesy. He feels as if he is one of us. And when he gets the same pay as a
70 year old master jazz man he lights up with the broadest smile you ever
saw. IMO, All players in bands should be paid for gigs, regardless of age.
It is not intended as a motivator. The motivator is Recognition, Applause,
Adulation, etc. If he worked 3 hours with us, we strongly believe he should
get paid like everybody else. He is equal, and what he did was worth it.
Understand his parents drive him 200 miles round trip for him to play a gig
with us. Not to pay him would be an insult to them to as I see it.

> Appreciate their music but not with money. Spend money on PR things,
> media, prizes (to the kids, of course) but don't turn their performances
> into paying gigs. I don't think, it's a good policy.

I appreciate your point of view. I do disagree with it. Why is it not good
policy? Could be a cultural difference, e.g. New Yorkers vs. East Europeans
and how we approach the music and the compensation for playing it.

> As far as I
> understood your briefing about Jon Russel's ASTA weekend, he was not
> paid - he got flight ticket and hotel free as a prize winner. And, of
> course, he received a prize and part of it was 500 USD but it was not
> about the money, so his appearance there was not a paying gig.

If it was not about the money, why did they present him with it? It was a
VIOLINIST IN THE USA UNDER 13 YEARS OF AGE was the 2500 mile trip for him
and parents, all expenses and $500. He plays paying gigs with us when he is
able to travel the 200 miles or so roundtrip to our gigs. IMO any monetary
prize is as much about money as it is about prestige. Including Nobel.

> By the
> way, as a violin teacher myself (and as newly elected president of ESTA
> Hungary which is the same here as ASTA in the US), I'd be very
> interested in hearing Jonathan's playing. I listened to one take of Lady
> Be Good (?) a month ago or so when you posted an URL, and I was NOT very
> impressed but I'm sure, he is much better than on that low resolution
> Internet-video recording. If he has any good quality demo recording, I'd
> be happy to receive one. Let me know.

No real studio demos yet because he's just a kid. And thank goodness for
that. He does normal kid things, has his head screwed together right and he
loves the usual kid games almost as much as the music. His parents are
trying to let him live a regular childhood as long as possible. They are not
anxious to put him "on stage" before he finishes his education. They do not
push him to perform. Rather he pushes them.

I think when one listens to any recording such as that one, one must make
allowances for fidelity. It is, as you say, low resolution. I hate it when
on gigs, people make low resolution recordings and then you hear them back
and they are just awful sound wise. As a musician, I know how to make
allowances for it. Like I can listen to the DeBennedetti recordings of Bird
and still hear the genius of Bird through that God awful fidelity. Many
other people cannot. Teacher, Andy Stein, cautions "J" against that also.
Your violin teaching peers at ASTA just rave about him. As do Andy Stein,
Johnny Frigo, Marc O'Conner and others, including a top jazz violinist here
in Philadelphia whose name escapes me at the moment. Old age:-) VBG

Yes, "Oh Lady Be Good". (partial recording) Anyone who improvises will have
no trouble identifying the tune from the first phrase. It depends upon what
one listens for. On that portion where Jonathan and the other players trade
4s, 2s, etc. What I hear is a 9 (or maybe he was 8 then) year old violinist
playing jazz, with a jazz feel. And I also hear IMPROVISATION, done on the
spot, as he repeats portions of phrases that the preceding trader just
played and then goes off on a variation. And he is doing it all on a kid's
violin because his arms are still too short for a regular one.

I find that to be unique. And so do the audiences at live concerts. I don't
get around much any more, but I have never in my lifetime heard an 8 or 9
year old IMPROVISE JAZZ, much less at that level, on any instrument. It is
no wonder to me that he was judged #1 jazz violin improviser under 13 among
other entrants nationally in the ASTA competition. What is a wonder, is that
he was the only jazz violinist in that age group that chose to play "Trad"
jazz for the competition. The rest were all "modern" oriented.

Perhaps the money had something to do with it? He loves ALL MUSIC. Plays
many different genres. Also plays other instruments. He will always love the
music whether it pays or not, but when he grows up, chances are he will play
the genre where the money is to make a living, and the genre he loves most
as a sideline. Most professional musicians do just that, unless they can
make money in the genre they love most.

People always ask me why I go out of my way for him. Simple, I'm hoping he
will stay in the trad genre. And I'm hoping he will learn to make money at
it. My only contribution to his musical education is how to have fun playing
while making a living. "Paying Gigs." By the same token, his contributions
to my musical education and life experiences are enormous.

Anyhow, if you get to the USA, you can hear him live in NYC with a band
fronted by trumpeter Ed Polcer, or in Philadelphia from time to time with
us. Bring your axe and sit in.

IMO the main reason OKOM loses musicians like Nicholas Peyton to the more
modern jazz forms is because that's where the money is.

Anyhow, if you get to the USA, you can hear him live in NYC with a band
fronted by trumpeter Ed Polcer, or in Philadelphia from time to time with
us. Bring your axe and sit in.

Failing that, in a year or so he'll probably make a studio demo to use for
admission/scholarship to a middle school for the arts. And his childhood
will start to slowly fade away.

Steve Barbone

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