[Dixielandjazz] Srtudents in Jazz Schools - Was Jazz is Alive &Well - In The Classroom Anyway

Marek Boym nmboym at 012.net.il
Mon Jan 8 05:28:58 PST 2007

Hello Mike,
There was a long perid when "modernists" and "fygges" of various persuasions 
(I include "Chicago" style, which wasn't exactly a "mouldy fygge" music) 
could find jobs, but the great "swingers," such as Coleman Hawkins, Ben 
Webster or Ruby Braff (especially the latter, as he was not only a swinger, 
but also young) could not find work.  Many swing players had to turn to 
"rhythm and blues" (just listen to Cootie Williams' recordings from the 
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Mike" <mike at railroadstjazzwest.com>
To: "Steve Barbone" <barbonestreet at earthlink.net>
Cc: <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Monday, January 08, 2007 9:18 AM
Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Srtudents in Jazz Schools - Was Jazz is Alive 
&Well - In The Classroom Anyway

> Steve,
>  It would be better for me to practice more on my own solos you
> are right. I will start working on that more. Your advice,
> analysis and solutions to the problem is excellent; thank you.
>   What happened to jazz? How did it go from being the top style
> of music America to barely making record sales? I would much
> rather learn to play jazz in a club with good players versus
> learning theories and textbook approaches from instructors who's
> horns are dusty or in the attic and don't have the experience.
> Players like Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans(as well as Ben
> Webster towards the end) should have never had to scrape for gigs.
> Mike
> Steve Barbone wrote:
>> Mike <mike at railroadstjazzwest.com>
>> Amen to all you say Mike, except maybe the transcription part in the last
>> sentence. Perhaps better to develop and record your own solos on a 
>> familiar
>> tune from the Aebersold  collection of play alongs? If you don't "hear"
>> jazz, you will never be able to play jazz. And IMO (many will shoot me 
>> for
>> it) if you cannot improvise, you will never be able to play jazz, because
>> reading the dots is not playing jazz, nor is playing the same old, same 
>> old,
>> from memory.
>> But more to the point you make, as well as that made in the Times 
>> article:
>> There are lots of well trained ersatz jazz musicians being "taught" in
>> schools. To be sure, the are great musicians, but jazz? Maybe, maybe not.
>> Worse yet, it is pointless for us to build a huge training complex for
>> training jazz musicians and then pat ourselves on the back for having 
>> done a
>> good job. Why? Because, THERE ARE NO GIGS FOR THEM.
>> What therefor should all of us be doing to help guys like Mike?
>> We should be inviting him (them) to sit in with our bands. How many of us
>> invite the young Jonathan Russell's of the world to join us? How many of 
>> us
>> get kids like Jonathan PAYING GIGS? One thing for sure, not enough. If
>> today's young musicians do not get paid for playing jazz, but do get paid
>> for playing Rock, why should we expect them to continue to play jazz?
>> What are we doing to create an audience for jazz? How many of us play 
>> where
>> the kids are? How many Jazz Societies are hip enough to contact their 
>> local
>> schools and offer to hold a concert or two in the auditorium. Charging, 
>> say
>> $10 (use the word "DONATION" if local rules are archaic)  for 
>> unaccompanied
>> adults, (including their members) and FREE to adults with one or more 
>> kids
>> under 18?
>> How many Jazz Societies and/or Bands are actively courting a young 
>> audience?
>> How many bands offer to play in the elementary and secondary schools? How
>> many bands offer to put together a "jazz education" program, even if as
>> guest lecturers?
>> When I think back to my kid days as a jazz player, I played jazz as long 
>> as
>> I could make a living at it. In the 1950s I could make $5000 a year as a
>> jazz player. And by taking a few wedding gigs, etc., I could make $7500.
>> That's like $75,000 today. By the 1960s, virtually every jazz player was
>> taking non jazz gigs to make a buck. Shoot, you could get Bill Evans, or
>> Oscar Peterson to play piano at your wedding back then for $150 if they
>> weren't working a steady club gig. That went for Davern, Bird, Bean, 
>> Erwin,
>> Napoleon, anyone you can name who was a big name in jazz. They too had to
>> supplement their declining jazz income.
>> By the early 1960s, the market for MKOM was dying rapidly, so I gave it 
>> up,
>> neither wanting to be a commercial musician nor wanting to live in 
>> poverty
>> for art's sake as a jazz musician. Never regretted it, as well as never
>> regretting coming back to performing in the early 1990's after retiring 
>> from
>> my day gig.
>> Like the Times article said: "The market for the music is in a tailspin. 
>> So
>> why is jazz education thriving?"
>> Well, IMO. first because the educators want to make a living and second
>> because they hope that the kids will start a jazz scene when they get 
>> home
>> from College and there will be a grass roots growth of the jazz market.
>> Perhaps that's possible because jazz exists here and there in college 
>> towns
>> and the odd high school when there is no local jazz club scene. But IMO,
>> grass roots growth isn't going to happen unless folks like you, and me, 
>> and
>> the Jazz Societies, and the bands get out there and DO IT. Or, simply 
>> said,
>> start marketing to all the kids as well as teaching some how to play 
>> music.
>> Start thinking what is possible instead of bitching about the sorry state 
>> of
>> music today, or what some wrongly think is the sorry state of music
>> education, etc., etc., etc. Then start doing what is possible.
>> Cheers,
>> Steve Barbone
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