Monday, May 12, 2008

Funny Money






















A variation of an old joke makes light of the often fleeting relationship between jazz and money. As previously noted in this space, $823,000 is being spent on development projects near 18th & Vine. A portion of that money is dedicated to erecting a giant sign.

Much to the chagrin of a few of Plastic Sax's associates, I happen to think the new signage is a brilliant idea. It will serve as a constant reminder that the district is just a few blocks east of downtown. The sign should make the area more attractive to new business development in addition to aiding the district's handful of existing entities.

Just for fun, let's pretend that the jazz community came into another $823,000. While prudent voices would probably suggest that the money go into museum staffing, maintenance and the like, let's hypothetically suppose that the money would need to be immediately spent on non-essential items.

Here are a few new ideas:

An ambitious recording project
Using the Blue Room as a recording studio, pay area jazz musicians for the privilege of documenting their art. The oldest musicians would be the top priority. Sadly, there'd be almost no commercial market for these recordings. Therefore, I suggest they be made immediately available for free download. It'd increase awareness and interest in the careers of the participating musicians. The sessions would also serve as invaluable resources for fans and musicologists in the future.

Jazz Inn
Convert one the area's vacant buildings or existing apartment complexes into a modest ten-room hotel. Tourists from Japan and Europe, touring musicians, and local day-trippers would make it viable.

Bring back the music
Fund a free weekly summertime jazz concert series at 18th & Vine. Plastic Sax fondly remembers the era when Kansas City, MO, paid national acts to play free concerts in city parks. In this case, all shows would be on 18th Street. The museums would be open during these events.

New museum installations
While I appreciate everything in the American Jazz Museum, a fresh new exhibit or two would be most welcome.

With that said, don't think I've forgotten my infamous tract from August 2007. Several additional ideas are listed in that shrill screed.

Your thoughts are most welcome.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

8 comments:

Rick in PV said...

Especially as I just booked tickets to attend the free Chicago Jazz Festival (Sonny Rollins and Ornette!) in late August, I agree with your suggestions, HiB! Bring back the free concerts, etc. Somehow, under Mayor McFunky, I can't see this happening, tho ...

the unthinking lemming said...

I'm with you, mostly.

The concert were not really free. The performers still require compensation. This really has little to do with Mayor Funkhouser. A lack of adequate funding and any real popular interest in the genre is the culprit. The economics says it is better to present a variety of more popular acts in the Power & Light District. Further, the historic jazz district offers little else to attract any substantial casual listeners such as the Plaza concerts offered back in the '70's or what the P&L District or the city of Chicago provides today.

Patchchord said...

Bravo on the suggestions, HIB. All of those are far and away better ideas than this sign as they actually contribute to the ongoing enjoyment of jazz and would be a great way to offer new opportunities for its re-discovery in this town.

rick in pv said...

Well, maybe that was a cheap shot at hizzoner. After all, it's just a pipe dream, anyway, right? But seriously, if KC doesn't invest in its jazz heritage, its downtown, etc., it might as well do as the Pitch writer suggested last week and give up the convention game, throw in the towel, close up the town. And to me, that would be unbearably sad. I'd rather try some of HiB's ideas.

Anonymous said...

they are all good ideas. unfortunately, the funding comes from an area that can't be spent on the aforementioned items. it's a mystery as to why the city would think that a sign can serve as a catalyst to the community investing in the art form...

the unthinking lemming said...

I'm not against HIB's ideas. Just trying to see the economic practicalities of the current jazz situation in KC and the surrounding area. I would suggest a less centralized approach. Some of the P&L KC Live! and such performances will surely include jazz, even local jazz. Simply put, the 18th & Vine Jazz District cannot sustain itself. The city has more important and pressing issues to attend to before it can indulge in renovating an increasingly marginalized part of the city's heritage. Funding must come from somewhere else. Meanwhile, if a gaudy sign is the best we can do, I say take it.

rick in pv said...

We have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time ... fix the sewers and promote our jazz heritage ...

the unthinking lemming said...

Its less a matter of coordination than it is not having the funds to buy the gum and walking shoes.