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

Tamas Ittzes bohem at fibermail.hu
Sat Mar 5 04:04:44 PST 2005

Hi Steve and all,

Thanks for the detailed answer. First of all, sorry for not re-reading
all original messages carefully before making a comment but I just found
the whole thing interesting (and found two totally different point of
views logical and "defendable"). I'd just answer a few things:

No, it was a national competition. The competing players submitted tapes
performances in advance. The tapes were then judged and the players
The winners in each category got to go to Reno NV, for the ASTA
and Awards ceremony. Jonathan Russell won First Prize in the "Jazz
Improvisation under 13 years old category". He is 9.
It is wise for kids to make pre-selections unless you organize a master
course where applicants pay. As John's mother pointed out in a message
sent to me off-list, they tried organizing the competition as an open
event two year ago, thus kids played and were heard first on the spot
and in some cases it was disasterous.

> Don't pay kids at an early age.
Why not? "J" would feel cheated if he worked 3 hours with us and didn't
paid like everybody else.
I had known in advance, this was not made clear. If a kid like Jonathan
works with you, pay him. Pay individuals - well, I didn't pay our
trombone player directly when he was under 18 (he joined our band at the
age of 13 and he was marvellous) but put the money on a bank account
that was open for him, so he was paid but had the chance to spend the
money only after consulting with her mother. What I meant in the case of
the present discussion is that don't pay bands initially at a youth band
festival like the one in Sacramento. Give them the chance to perform.
You can pay the very best ones in form of giving them (also monetary)
awards etc. but do not hire them. Or you can follow the same procedure
as ASTA. I don't think, any youth bands could play well enough to be
paid if you treat their work on a regular level and don't look at them
as kids. To be honest I would not pay for a concert which has the
quality of a youth band's performance - no matter if it's a youth band
or a group of adults. So why use "positive discrimination" (that's an
awful term, we use in Hungary) moneywise for young ones? Yes, you have
to support them by giving them chance to perform and giving them either
awards or further possibilities to play, making recordings etc. These
things would cost money for the organization that offers the chance or
award but do not give THEM money - well, this is surely a big difference
between American and Central European approach as you pointed out. And
note that I am very conservative in such matters. But again, I was
talking about paying a band that you don't really know in advance (as in
the case of the Sacramento event) but anyway, it's probably not THAT
good - and you are talking about Jonathan who is an individual. I don't
want to put down youth bands as those groups are VERY important for
getting the possible next generation involved in OKOM but, to be honest,
I have never heard a really good youth band in my life (I'm talkin'
about elementary and high-school jazz bands). But I have heard excellent
players, instrumentalists and improvisers in some of those youth bands
and that's the point. There are great young individuals out there but
you have to invite the bands in many cases to discover the individuals
as the band is their only chance to play jazz - in many cases. 
(Anyway, a quotation about the SAcaramento event's main goal is on their
web site and also in a recent post of Bob Ringwald.)

What is the difference between a monetary prize
and paying for a gig? With both, you play and someone pays you for what
Prize is given for achievement - things, you've already done. Gig is
something else. You are hired and hoped to play as well as your
temporary employer thinks you can. (Well, if you turn out to be bad, he
might not pay you, I know - but that's a different and maybe even longer
topic.) From the side of the other party: the organization that gives
you an award collects the money for it from funds etc. (generally NOT
from entrance fees of the Gala concert) and gives it to you. Paying gig
organizers hope to employ a band that draws a good crowd that pay enough
to pay the band itself. (That's, again, could be another long topic.)

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
saw. IMO, All players in bands should be paid for gigs, regardless of
It is not intended as a motivator. The motivator is Recognition,
Adulation, etc. If he worked 3 hours with us, we strongly believe he
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
with us. Not to pay him would be an insult to them to as I see it.
Again, agreed - see my (hopefully well explained) view above.

Also, I am happy to hear that Jonathan is just aregular kid and plays
and is interested in other things, too. That's good and I'm sure, he
will be much better than most of us - my observation only was (when I
wrote that I was not very impressed with his Lady Be Good) that he is
still a kid and even though he is MUCH better than most kids at his age,
his feel of rhythm, way of handling the instrument, feel of 16 and 32
bars etc., understanding of form and structure etc. is on a MUCH higher
level than most kids involved in jazz (and no doubt, he definitely
surpasses many adults, too, in the above "categories") but he still
sounds like a kid in many ways. It is also good. I only understood from
your postings as if he was equal to any great musicians. No, he is not
yet. But he surely will be. And I have looked up his home page, scrolled
through the photos, I know who he has played with. I know Dan Levinson,
I know the Paris Washboard personally, I know, who Ed Polcer and Andy
Stein are, so I believe them, too. Jon is a POSSIBLE treasure, but not a
developed musician yet. He is, according to his age but I am talking
about musicianship and quality according to the highest level. I
(although I am only 37) have seen enough wunderkid to become nobody
after 18 to hold back my applause and praise when I see one such talent
again. I recognize his talent but try to handle things cautiously. But I
don't think there is any disagreement in this between the two of us or
Jon's mother. However, if I were you, I'd also invite him to play with
us and would pay him (probably to a bank account).

Well, I am tired of my own lengthiness :-)
I think, we understand each other. And anyway, I don't want to (and
can't) judge anyone who I don't know and have never heard personally.
Back to the origin of this discussion: I don't think that the Sacarmento
people do something wrong with their event. There are several ways to
make something happen, I haven't found THEIR way wrong. Bob's (Ringwald)
recent letter explains it all (for me).

Best regards,

Tamas ITTZES - violin teacher, ragtime pianist, festival organizer
Bohem Ragtime Jazzband, Kecskemet Jazz Foundation
Mailing address: H-6001 KECSKEMET, Pf. 652., Hungary
Phone: +36(20)82-447-82
E-mails: tamas at bohemragtime.com, bohem at fibermail.hu
Web site: http://www.bohemragtime.com

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