Forecasts vary in the wake of collapses of Jazz Times and the JVC Jazz Festivals. Brilliant Corners exults that mid-brow music is so over and revels in New York’s Vision Fest, while Jazz Chronicles asks what comes next — possibly something good?
I think it’s irresponsible and delusional to believe that the demise of successful mainstream enterprises like magazines, commercial festivals and oh yes, the International Association for Jazz Education, another bete noir of Brilliant Corners’ Boston-based Chris Rich (along with many others: baby boomers, jazz fusion, George Wein, Boston Jazz Week) is
- a) a good thing, and
- b) won’t affect smaller enterprises, whether individual musicians or collective avant-garde fests, not very far down the road. (Read Barbara Ehrenreich on the impact of the recession on the “already poor” and extrapolate: the Jazz Foundation of America is already trying to help more musicians in need with fewer dollars from donations).
My good friend James Hale of Jazz Chronicles, based in Ottawa, says
Canadian jazz is stable in ways the U.S.’s isn’t, citing TD Canada
Trust’s “ongoing sponsorship” of north-of-the-border jazz fests. In the
same sentence he mentions General Motors’ withdrawal, even before it went bankrupt, from underwriting
the major Montreal jazz fest.
James reports also
that he’s gone over to what we joke about as “the dark side” (i.e. public relations),
taking a job as “media advisor” to the Ottawa Jazz Fest, at which we both spoke last summer on a panel we both organized via the Jazz Journalists Association. A music journalist of extensive professional experience and a
man of honor, Hale pledges to report from the inside of the fest for the
benefit of his readers, which I believe he’ll do retaining all his integrity.
As for his hopes for the future, they’re based in a bounce-back of jazz in the ’80s
he recalls, after a bad time in the ’70s:
I’m holding out for another upward swing, which will bring
a new model for many parts of our industry. What format will those
things take? I don’t think we can safely guess, any more than we
might’ve predicted 15 years ago that digital,
broadband technology would mean the destruction of the music industry
as we knew it then.
Now that’s optimism we can believe in. DNA for stubborn determination if not looking on the bright side is surely embedded in all jazz people. Though I personally tend to see glasses half-empty, it would be dandy if the future comes up roses. Which actually I know it will: For sure something good will happen, eventually, as long as we’re ready to recognize it.
“Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, accept what comes” seems like the operable adage. Ornette Coleman — who’s curating the open-minded, anti-genre Meltdown Festival in London this week — titled a song and album, Tomorrow Is The Question! 50 years ago, and he’s still right.