Monday, August 5, 2013
Romance Without Finance
I ran into one of Kansas City's most prominent jazz musicians at a rock concert Saturday. In addition to enjoying the show along with an audience of over 15,000, he was there to greet Jake Blanton. Blanton, a one-time fixture of Kansas City's music scene, is currently a sideman for a successful rock band. It's entirely possible that he plays for more people in a single night than the locally-based jazz musician plays for in a year.
As I waited over 45 minutes in a parking lot for traffic to clear, I wondered if the jazz musician had any misgivings about his commitment to jazz. Between ticket and merchandise sales, Saturday's event grossed over $600,000. Most Kansas City-based jazz musicians play for an audience that numbers in the dozens. And unless they're booked at one of Kansas City's two listening rooms dedicated to jazz, chances are good that they'll face a distracted audience.
As much as I'd like to think that pleasing my refined sensibility with his jazz conceptions is sufficient reward, making that sort of financial sacrifice can't be easy for the man I encountered Saturday.
I listened to Joe Dimino's new Neon Jazz interview with Matt Kane on Sunday. The loquacious drummer addressed this issue as he discussed the constant indignities faced by jazz musicians in New York City. Kane said that the challenges force him to constantly "really dig deep and define 'the why'."
"It's got to be for the music. Period," Kane told Dimino. He lives for "those moments when it's so beautiful and the music is coming through you and people are spiritually uplifted."
While Kane and the attendee of Saturday's rock concert could almost certainly secure more lucrative work in another genre, they remain committed to jazz. I'm grateful.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)