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Jazz On Life Support

"Since the roots of jazz are in rhythm and blues, it should be no surprise that a stellar cast of Grammy-winning and chart-topping R&B and funk artists have been booked to perform at the Las Vegas Jazz Festival slated for September 19-21, 2014".....

And so reads the introduction of the press release for the Las Vegas Jazz Festival. The publicist who circulated this release is a great guy. He’s just doing his job and he’s very good at it. But that doesn’t mean the statement is factually correct because it is not.

I’m interjecting because someone, not knowing any better, might think that this is a truthful statement: that “the roots of jazz are in rhythm and blues”. Wrong! It's the other way around. Jazz predates R&B. Stars like Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald were doing their thing long before there was a Stax or a Motown.

Historically, all modern forms of Black music are rooted in the slave hollers of the African slave in America. Jazz, Gospel, R&B, Hip Hop, Blues and Soul are the leaves. They are the offspring of Negro Folk music. That’s easy to prove.

So what is REALLY going on? Has the jazz artist (contemporary and traditional) become so devalued that promoters are now booking R&B "stars" to sell tickets? I don’t mean to single out Las Vegas. Other festivals have begun to do the same thing. It’s trending. That's the problem.

And I’m not hating on any musician. Get your booking. Get paid.

But it's clear that its not about the music anymore. It’s about getting that money first. The music is a treated as a means to that end. What about the promoter? Just doing what is needed to survive. The publicist? Just writing what the promoter paid him to write. Can’t blame anybody for doing their job.

But if the system is BROKE, which it is, who is going to fix it?

Jazz, both contemporary and traditional, are on life support. The problem is that nobody really wants to talk about it. But, if there is going to be a halt to the madness and a change for the better, the fans will have to stand up and say "enough is enough".  

It's time to speak up. The future of this great art form is in your hands ... 

It's time to hear what you have to say!

 

Comments Section

It is sad when we are so caught up in the colonization of our culture that we can't and don't recognize what is really going on. Jazz as we know it, is being treated as classical music. Colonization, take ones art, music and religion, and make it there own, or implant some BullS#@t. And then mislabel it, and not give credit where it is due. Because an R&B group or band has a horn in it doesn't make it a jazz band. Divide and conquer, there have been so many different categories of jazz or Black Music created, that its labeling can be completely wrong. As you say it is about the $$$, then the falsehoods will continue and the healing vibrations that JAZZ has always had will be put in the underground. Like the Beatniks of the 50's and 60's only to surface decades later. I have added a link that I think you would enjoy, Jazz. http://concert.arte.tv/fr/moers-festival-2014-letieres-leite-orkestra-rumpilezz#header
Charleston Jazz by Jack McCray www.jenkinsinstitute.org This is great stuff!!! jazzyj
The short answer is "no" they don't need R&B to survive. However, you are correct there is a trend! I noticed the R&B booking trend a few years ago. On the East Coast a few major jazz festivals started booking R&B acts. "The Low Country Jazz Festival"(LCJF) decided to keep our Festival Smooth and very Groove! The results has been steady growth for the LCJF. We have picked up Jazz fans from the festivals who added more and more R&B acts. The fans we polled simply want the "Jazz lifestyle" and care not to be around the R&B fan. We also have a more balanced racial mix as a result of resisting the "short sighted trend"( 60/40 white or 50/50.)This balance makes The LCJF more attractive to sponsors, businesses and fosters the support of local Politians. Great Blog! Thanks DJ Jazzyj
I think it is because we are getting older and the youngsters don't really appreciate jazz. They don't take the time to really listen. If it doesn't have the bump and the profane language it's not cool. Also like anything else it starts at home. I played jazz for my son from day one and encouraged him when he picked up the sax. Today he loves jazz and he is a very good sax player. So I agree, jazz is on life support and I think that after our generation (Assuming you are old like me) the smooth sounds will be fleeting.
 

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