Monday, November 1, 2010
Crossing Over on a Rising Tide
A prominent Kansas City jazz musician once told me that every ambitious blues and rock musician secretly aspires to play jazz. Only their current lack of skill, he suggested, prevents them from performing the music. I doubt the accuracy of his conceit, but what if he's right?
Max Weinberg, perhaps best known as Bruce Springsteen's longtime drummer, led a swinging big band at Jardine's last night. Both The Star and The Pitch reviewed Weinberg's second set.
Weinberg, of course, is hardly the first rock-oriented musician to cross over to the jazz world, but it's possible that a tidal wave of similar stylistic shifts is on the horizon. Current members of arty indie rock acts like Arcade Fire and Radiohead, improvisation-happy jam bands like String Cheese Incident and Widespread Panic, and roots-oriented hip hop acts like Mos Def and the Roots may very well wind up playing jazz-based music a decade or two from now. Here in Kansas City, it's entirely conceivable that local luminaries including members of the Roman Numerals and Tech N9ne could shift to jazz as they age.
Would this trend be a rising tide that lifts all boats? Or would dedicated jazz musicians who have spent years battling for gigs at the limited number of jazz-friendly venues be squeezed out of work? For the sake of my musician friend, I certainly hope it's not the latter.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)