[Dixielandjazz] OKOM and it's place in 2013?

vaxtrpts at aol.com vaxtrpts at aol.com
Sun Jul 7 12:47:29 PDT 2013

I have not contributed much lately.  Too busy performing and booking and working on our jazz festival, I guess.
I would like to make some comments on recent subjects.

>From Mike Woitocwicz:

"The DJML is constantly bombarded with messages that OKOM music is not accepted 
like the "old" days. Well, I will go out on a limb and say that it may never be 
again. Unless the musicians performing the music re-invent their playlists and 
performances to correspond to today's customers, the musical work will 
disappear. Much of it already has. Of course, I am speaking from a banjo 
player's perspective, but I think the principle applies." 

I think that Mike is right in many aspects.  
BUT - I will preface this by saying that  30+ years ago, when I moved back from New Orleans to California 
and formed the Great American Jazz Band, we were put down a bunch for not sticking to "OKOM" tunes.  We played some Country and Western tunes before Igor
ever entered the festival scene.  We played some current pop tunes, way before many of today's bands on the trad circuit.  We played big band tunes.  We even played 
some modern jazz tunes - before anyone here ever heard of that wonderful band from France that plays be-bop tunes.  And YES!!!!!  We did all of these genres in a 
traditional jazz format and style. People thought we were blasphemous!  How dare we try to "update" the music!!!!
Well, Mike has said it very well and those who have talked about the new Preservation Hall CD seem to agree.
While I am not a fan of the lack of "dress code" that Trombone Shorty and some of his peers wear, they are doing a great job bringing New Orleans flavored music to 
younger audiences.

And I must agree with Bob Ringwald when he states that Jim Kashishian has no "handle" on what is happening in the United States.  
I have brought this music and also big band music (Through the Stan Kenton Alumni Band) to schools all over this country.  My festival has an Educational Outreach 
Program that pays musicians to go into schools to do assemblies at no charge to the school.  And yes ------------------- the students do enjoy what we do for them. 
And --------------- we do make a few "converts" with every performance.  BUT ------------- the bulk of the students go right back to listening to the crap that is shoved down 
their throats by record companies and radio.  
I go into schools all the time doing the clinics that I do all over the USA ------------- and I can tell you that even with the 
students who are in the jazz bands in their schools ---------------- they do NOT listen to jazz music at home.
Also - other than rock and country, in many cities in the USA, there is NO thriving night club scene of any kind ----------- so where would we play OKOM to young people in
clubs???????????   In our little area of Prescott, Arizona, even say five years ago there were six clubs or restaurants that presented jazz music of one kind or another 
on a regular basis.  Know how many there are now?  NONE.   
I have traveled the world as a jazz musician and again Ringwald is right.  Jazz music is much more appreciated in Europe and Japan then it is here in our own country.
I'm not giving up and saying it is "dying" just yet, however.  I will keep plugging away producing our little festival that is very successful, and booking the Stan Kenton 
Alumni Band, and booking my small groups, and doing clinics in schools.
OKOM will never be as popular as it once was, but if we all fight to keep it alive, at least it will be heard by the small number of people who really care about it ------ AND 

Mike Vax
Friends of Big Band Jazz, Prescott Jazz Summit, 
Stan Kenton Alumni Band

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