Monday, February 2, 2009

Is Jazz Dead? No, It's Dyed

Anyone driving along 12th Street Saturday night might have understandably presumed that a jam-band was performing at the Folly Theater.

Hordes of shaggy fans in tie-dye stood smoking outside the venerable venue. But neither String Cheese Incident nor a Phish side project were on stage. Instead, the bohemians were downtown to hear John Scofield play guitar.

Scofield has successfully collaborated with Medeski Martin & Wood and worked alongside Phil Lesh. Fans of those acts have subsequently latched on to Scofield.

While many members of the jazz community wring their hands about the dwindling audience for jazz, Scofield has gone out of his way to bring new fans into the fold.

The trend has been previously noted at Plastic Sax. While I don't spend much time collecting Grateful Dead bootlegs, I recognize that jazz's great hope, at least among American audiences, is likely in the patchouli-stained hands of Deadheads.

Incidentally, some jerk gave the show a mixed review. What an idiot!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)


Anonymous said...

a very good point. maybe it's guitar players in general? the blue room was packed with the same crowd when pat martino played there in february 2007. and they came out for dr. lonnie smith's funk in august '08. he also had a killer guitarist with him.

Happy In Bag said...

Could be, Andrew.

But didn't both Ornette Coleman and Branford Marsalis work with the Dead?

A local jazz saxophonist might do well to follow their leads by sitting in with the Schwag and acts of that ilk.

Anonymous said...

also an excellent point. jerry garcia was so well-versed in bluegrass & folk; perhaps there's a potential connection worth exploring by doing a jazz-grass show? oh wait, that's bela fleck.