[Dixielandjazz] Jazz Societies

Dave Stoddard dhs2 at peoplepc.com
Fri Jun 1 19:41:06 PDT 2007

Dear Listers:

I am a little tired of the blanket bashing of jazz clubs and jazz societies 
on the Dixieland Jazz Mailing List.  It is suggested that they seek 
monopolies on traditional jazz in the towns they serve, and try to exploit 
musicians.  That may be true of some jazz clubs, but I have been associated 
with the Tri-State Jazz Society and am currently Vice President of the 
Austin Traditional Jazz Society and I have seen nothing of the sort with 
either organization.  If Listers have difficulties with specific 
organizations, perhaps they should mention those groups by name rather than 
bash the whole crowd.

I have now been in Texas for seven years, and am best equipped to discuss 
the workings of the Austin Traditional Jazz Society.  Here are a few key 

1.   The Society Board of Directors is answerable primarily to its 
membership.  We try to find the best available traditional jazz music 
ensembles within our financial means and present them to our members and 
those of the general public who will buy tickets to our shows.  Our 
membership is older (fairly typical), and we are always seeking ticket sales 
(and potential new members) through advertising and other outreach.

2.   The Society pays good money for these shows.  We hold five or six 
regular concerts and one special concert a year.  The regular concerts are 
played by Austin and San Antonio bands.  They get more money for these 
concerts than they would get at most (if not all) area club dates, though 
perhaps a little less than they might get for a good private gig.  The 
special concerts are played by bands led by people like Ed Polcer, Jim 
Cullum and Connie Jones.  They are nationally-known groups and are paid 

3.   On its website (www.atjs.org) the Society lists every traditional jazz 
gig in the Austin area it is made aware of.  Society officers encourage its 
members to support live jazz throughout Central Texas.  We neither seek or 
desire a monopoly on traditional jazz in the Austin area.

4.   The Society does host organized jam sessions at some of its concerts. 
The musicians are not paid, but non-members are admitted free to these 
concerts.  The jam sessions have been popular among players and listeners. 
Members of bands get to play with people from other bands, and players who 
are not in ensembles get to play with good area musicians and to showcase 
themselves.  People have popped up at these sessions and become regulars or 
frequent substitutes with area jazz bands.

5.   The Society has also had four new jazz bands play demonstration sets. 
These could be construed as live auditions.  Three of these bands played the 
first set at jam sessions, and have since gone on to play regular concerts. 
One of them has been accepted as a repeat performer.

6.   Earlier, there was an extended discussion on DJML of live music 
festivals in Austin not paying their performers, and in fact requiring them 
to pay a filing fee to submit audition materials.  The Austin Traditional 
Jazz Society does not take a position on these festivals, and certainly does 
not encourage anyone to play for less than they can negotiate on the open 
market in the name of exposure or bringing jazz to the public.

In short, I think ATJS does some good things for the Austin traditional jazz 
scene.  The Society is neither the entire scene nor its salvation.  Who is 
going to make a living playing one or two concerts a year?  However, the 
Society does seek to provide an umbrella organization for those who wish to 
work with it.

Dave Stoddard
Round Rock, TX 

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