Sunday, March 26, 2017

Confessions of a Jazz Blogger

A prominent member of Kansas City’s jazz community recently asked to meet with me.  I’ve created a crib sheet that lays out a few of my core beliefs to make our forthcoming discussion more efficient.

1. Jazz isn’t inherently superior to other forms of music.  I spend at least as much time listening to hip-hop as jazz.

2. Professed jazz advocates who wax poetic about “America’s classical music” and “America’s gift to the world” are either hucksters or dolts.

3. Pleas for jazz education leave me cold.  All forms of music are equally accessible in 2017.  Nothing prevents those who prefer Ed Sheeran and Future from listening to or aspiring to be Brad Mehldau and Ambrose Akinmusire.  People aren’t consuming jazz simply because the music doesn’t move them, not because they don’t understand it or are unaware of its existence.

4. I’m rarely more distressed than when I’m attending a jazz performance that doesn’t appeal to me.  Bad punk rock can be enormously entertaining.  Poorly rendered jazz is insufferable.

5. A member of my immediate family has suggested that my presence acts as a deterrent to younger and more fashion-conscious people who might otherwise frequent jazz clubs.

6. I’d rather read old newspapers at home than attend a reverent tribute concert.

7. Plastic Sax is partly intended to share the good news about Kansas City’s jazz scene.  I’ve failed in that mission.  Attendance at jazz events continues to decline.  Meanwhile, lip service about the city’s jazz legacy is louder than ever.

8. Jazz musicians can be their own worst enemies.  Between unseemly album covers, self-defeating sheepishness, misguided decisions to boycott streaming services and infighting with one another (not to mention initiating feuds with jazz bloggers), it’s a wonder that interest in their music isn’t even lower.

9. The words “workshop,” “clinic,” “pedagogy” and “adjudicate” make my eyes glaze over.

10. Why do I persist?  I’ve posted almost 1,500 times at Plastic Sax in the past 11 years.  I continue to believe that documentation is important.  Besides, no other outlet is covering the scene in a way that reflects my perspective.  I respect the music far too much to treat it like a hothouse flower.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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