What if there’s more to jazz than you suppose? What if jazz demolishes suppositions and breaks all bounds? What if jazz – and the jazz beyond, behind, under and around jazz – could enrich your life?
What if jazz is the subtle, insightful, stylish, soulful, substantive guide to successful navigation of today’s big and little challenges? What if jazz is more than a tune in the background, the cult of the cool, an old hipster cliché – but rather a window on and mirror reflecting society as understood by artists who regard individuality, originality, innovation, integrity, virtuosity, collaborative skills and community concerns as essentials, fundamentals? What if jazz is an infallible bs. detector and transmitter, as immediate as the Internet, of beauty and truth?
Jazz Beyond Jazz is of the mind that jazz as we know it is fine, but what’s happening right now – and escaping most notice — is jazz beyond jazz. That phrase is meant to cover not only new developments in music born of urban America, now spread world-wide, but also the news, gossip, hype, buzz, analysis, speculation and fantasy that threads throughout the world of jazz and the worlds jazz bring to light — personal and public, current and historic, improvised and otherwise.
Oh, I’ll write a lot about music I like, much of it jazz, though also blues, r&b, soul, contemporary chamber and orchestral composition, electronic music and indigenous musics from all over the globe. I’ve found that New York City offers incomparable access to music of almost every type from almost everywhere, and I listen with pleasure, professionally, to music too broad to pigeonhole or label.
What to call
- Jeff Newell’s New-Trad Octet, rendering John Phillip Sousa’s 100-year-old marches to emphasize their Afro-Cuban rhythms, with electric guitar and keyboard as well as tuba, trombone, sax, trumpet and drums live on the 4th of July, anchored on a barge beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, awaiting Macy’s Fireworks? New Americana?
But there’s more to music journalism than music reviewing, more than the artist profiles, business news and trends pieces conventionally taken as music journalism. Something about print vs. e-postings, about publishing and copyrights, the perverse pleasures and predictable pitfalls of hustling byline-to-byline, the realities of freelancing and academia for adjuncts, biking in Brooklyn, crime writing new and old, movies, tv, birdsong, music theater, parenting an incipient cellist . . . Thinking about jazz leads beyond the jazz one is thinking of.
Which is what I’ll report on – via jazz, yes, but including its industries, institutionalization, ad hoc fan-base and critical questions. Like — if it’s so popular, why ain’t jazz rich? And how popular is it, anyway? What’s behind the imminent demise (or will it be another reorganization?) of the Jazz Alliance International, a basically bankrupt lobbying group established to function on the model of the far better positioned Country Music Foundation? Is it true Jazz at Lincoln Center loses money every time it has a show at 1000-seat Rose Hall, even if all tix sell out?
Jazz, yeah, but: Jazz prescribes inclusivity not exclusivity, embrace of change rather than resistance to it. Jazz beyond jazz is the result — conclusions reached after absorption of something new, realizations that are different, insistently innovative and illuminating, not a shadow of or reminiscence about the way things used to be.
Jazz beyond jazz will be the default theme of this blog. It will come complete with hot tips, recommending live concerts in my vicinity, new releases, old favorites, and information from other sources.
So here’s to jazz, and the jazz beyond it.