[Dixielandjazz] THE TRUTH ABOUT YOUTH
barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Wed Mar 9 06:36:12 PST 2005
OH MY, READ IT AND WEEP, YOU LEFT COASTERS. No money in schools? No Arts fu
nding? No interest in OKOM by the young? Etc., etc., etc. . . . . BS.
Gee Whiz old timers, get with it!!!! Knock off the negative BS and start
playing where the kids are.
This works for Dixieland, Big Band Swing, Bebop etc. Get your heads out of
you know where and smell the roses.
REPEAT WHAT I SAID RIGHT AFTER KEN BURN'S JAZZ AIRED: "The market for jazz
has not been this strong for the last 50 years. Carpe Diem."
Bandleaders/Musicians you are the problem, not the youth audience
March 9, 2005 - NY TIMES - By MIREYA NAVARRO
The Definition of 'Phat': Big Band With Young Fans
LOS ANGELES, March 8 - Taylor Rasmussen, a Led Zeppelin fan, recently
discovered another band that suits his 13-year-old taste. He describes it as
having "a new cool sound" with funky bass lines, high-pitched notes and
That band is actually a big band, Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, and its
"new" sound is good old jazz. And at a recent concert at the gymnasium of
the Lindero Canyon Middle School in Agoura Hills north of here, Taylor and
an excited throng of students treated these jazz musicians like pop stars,
screaming their approval and lining up to have CD's, T-shirts, posters and
even casts autographed by Mr. Goodwin and his 17 musicians.
"Would you sign my back?" a giggling girl asked Mr. Goodwin.
"Could you write 'Happy Birthday, Kelley'?" another girl asked, handing him
a poster she had just purchased.
The heyday of big band jazz may have been back in the last century, but
contemporary groups like Big Phat Band have found a market among teenagers,
particularly those in school and college music programs. Mr. Goodwin, a film
and television soundtrack composer who formed his group in 1999, has
aggressively courted this young audience. Jazz educators say students are a
natural market for big bands because these are the most common type of
ensemble in most schools.
"People would think that a lot of people supporting these jazz guys are
older people, but a lot of them are high school and college kids who are
exposed to the music," said Edward Protzman, band director at Central Bucks
High School West, near Philadelphia.
But sales of jazz recordings have been stagnant at about 3 percent of the
music market for years. And while there are dozens of professional jazz big
bands working around the country, they have fewer opportunities to record
and play than a trio or combo because, with more musicians to pay, they are
more expensive to book and transport.
Some big bands have found that they can compete with rock and rap for the
attention of a portion of the youth market. Maynard Ferguson, 75, the
trumpeter whose career with Jimmy Dorsey, Stan Kenton and other jazz greats
dates back to the 1940's, still tours for most of the year.
But these days, about 80 percent of his gigs with Big Bop Nouveau, his
"small big band," as he calls it, are at high schools and colleges. "There's
nothing more glamorous for these kids than when they get to meet a
professional jazzman," he said.
Some school band directors said that students connect better with big bands
than with jazz combos or trios because more of them could see their
instrument played. Band leaders like Mr. Goodwin also publish their
compositions, which means they are available for school bands to play.
"His music is so well known by kids that kids want to hear the band," said
Jim Warrick, coordinator of jazz studies for New Trier Township High School
in Winnetka, near Chicago, which invited the Big Phat Band to perform at its
jazz festival for school bands last month.
The Big Phat Band has two CD's, which have earned five Grammy nominations
for complex but upbeat, quirky tunes with catchy titles like "Hunting
Wabbits." Mr. Goodwin, who tried twice to get a big band going in the 1980's
and 1990's, said he initially put together the Big Phat Band to record his
music. But after playing his first live gig at his alma mater, California
State University at Northridge, other school engagements followed and now
account for about half of the group's concerts.
Some school music directors said Mr. Goodwin had gone after the youth market
more aggressively than others. In addition to assembling a group of top Los
Angeles musicians, most of them friends he entices with promises of more
lucrative work in movies and television, Mr. Goodwin said he had appealed to
young people by recording with the latest technology, promoting the band
through e-mail messages, a Web site (www.gordongoodwin.com) and music
publishing, and doing what pop stars do: offering CD's and T-shirts for sale
at concerts, for instance, and staying on with other band members afterward
to sign autographs.
It also helps that Mr. Gordwin, a boyish-looking 50-year-old who has won
three Emmys for music he composed for Warner Brothers animated films, works
in Hollywood and can talk about his involvement in movies like "The
Incredibles," "Coach Carter" and "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!" He said he
named his band "Phat" to make it distinctive, although he was momentarily
stumped during an interview when trying to explain what "phat" meant.
"Phat is an acronym for hot, terrific ...," Mr. Goodwin said, before text
messaging his 14-year-old son for help. (His son's reply: "Phat, adj., of a
very high quality or standard.")
Mr. Goodwin said he fell in love with big band jazz when he discovered Count
Basie as a seventh-grade music student. After his success as a commercial
composer, he said, he wanted a more enduring vehicle for his music and to do
his part creating new jazz fans and musicians.
School gigs alone cannot sustain a big band, but they are helping propel the
Big Phat Band on to bigger and better things. The group signed with the
William Morris Agency in late 2003 to try to expand its base to include
major jazz festivals and concert tours. It is closing the Playboy Jazz
Festival on June 12 at the Hollywood Bowl and traveling to Hong Kong for the
opening of a Disneyland park in the fall, and working on a third CD
scheduled to be released next year.
But young people remain the band's core audience.
"They're really appreciative," said Andy Martin, a trombone soloist with the
band. "They stand up and yell and scream."
So voracious is their reaction, Mr. Goodwin agreed, that when the band plays
to more subdued older audiences, "we wonder, are we getting across to these
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