[Dixielandjazz] IAJE - TJEN - Some thoughts.
barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue Jan 16 20:26:43 PST 2007
Just got home from jamming with some guys who are IAJE members and teachers
at local High Schools. We were jamming straight ahead and bop but I got a
chance to ask them about the lack of trad teaching, relating a story about a
high school concert Barbone Street did a year ago.
The concert was at a local High School which has a killer jazz band and a
strong jazz teaching program. They brought Maynard in two weeks before our
concert and all the young musos and music teachers went to hear him.
Our concert, sponsored by an arts foundation followed. Prior to it I called
the music dept head and discussed our band, pointing out that in their
youth, our guys had played with Billie Holiday, Clifford Brown, Lester
Young, Coleman Hawkins, Thelonious Monk, Kai & JJ, Max Roach, Buddy Rich
etc., etc., etc. I asked if he would bring his jazz students to this FREE
concert.(Maynard charged about $25) "Sure" he said, "you guys have a good
rep and we'd love to talk about the guys you all played with". I put flyers
up on the bulletin boards.
Concert comes, no music students. Audience was about 750 from the
neighborhood and included about 250 HS students, but none from the music
program and no music teachers.
Students who did the sound were blown away by our band. WOW, they said,
Awesome etc. Other students were blown away, some dancing free style in
aisles. Rest of audience also loved it.
I asked these teachers tonight, why they thought that no music students and
no music teachers showed up.
Basically, they thought it fairly simple. The Teachers did not know beans
about OKOM, can't play it and therefore didn't want to get involved with it.
They are hip to Maynard and/or Kenton and comfortable with what they do so
why in hell should they have to work hard to learn Trad?
Now that made me think back to my day gig days part of which were spent as a
director of a major trade association in the automotive field.
Eureka!!! The light went on. The major purpose of a trade association is to
further the careers of their members, to provide services to members, and to
make sure that the association stays in business since the members supply
the money. (Not too different from any political process.)
IAJE will not care about trad jazz, because their members in large part do
not care about trad jazz. It therefore is not in IAJE's best interest to do
a damn thing about getting trad jazz into High Schools. In fact, it
threatens their power base and so they'll give it lip service, but nothing
will happen. UNLESS TJEN AND WE MAKE IT HAPPEN.
So, if folks want to get Trad into schools, the best bets are TJEN which is
trying to drag IAJE kicking and screaming into trad, or to support Wynton
Marsalis who's Jazz At Lincoln Center has a program for schools that
includes a pretty fair amount of trad.
Be that as it may, the problem is not that we don't teach musos Trad. Heck
we have more than enough young trad musos coming out of various jazz camps
all over the USA. We don't need more trad musos.
WHAT WE NEED IS MORE TRAD AUDIENCE FOR TRAD GIGS. MORE YOUNG AUDIENCE. But
then, we've all heard that song before and ignored it. Just keeps bringing
me back to the Branford Marsalis quote:
³Jazz Musicians are always talking about, Why isn¹t jazz popular.¹ But jazz
musicians today are completely devoid of charisma. People never really liked
the music in the first place. So now you have musicians who are proficient
at playing instruments, and people sit there, and it¹s just boring to them
because they¹re trying to see something, or feel it.²
Maybe he's right. It's not the music, it's the musicians. Perhaps it never
was the music, but the overall charisma, sex, booze and dirty dancing.
Please don't shoot the messenger. And don't tell me it can't be done,
because I'm doing it. A large portion of my gigs are for young audiences who
love OKOM when they hear it played with verve, and with a band that gets
down with them.
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