Jazz elders cast giant shadows

Why isn’t the amazing current generation of creative (jazz) musicians better known? Maybe because major artists of the not-so-distant past are practicing the art form at splendid peaks, overturning clichés about dwindling powers of octogenarians. Read my column in City Arts New York for a report that touches on Sonny Rollins, Roy Haynes and Muhal Richard Abrams, who tower over the start of the fall 2010 season. muhal.jpeg

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  1. says

    With age comes wisdom and new ideas that have been constantly building over a lifetime. These great artists had something to say 50 years and they still have something to say now. It’s in all genres of music but especially in Jazz. Most musicians play until their last day on earth. The music is a powerful force that never leaves-Maybe more people should respect what this is all about
    Peace, jason

  2. says

    This is a basic mis-perception: the ‘current’ generation of creative jazz artists in EVERY generation has been unknown. Remember King Oliver had to go to Chicago and even then was touring little gin joints in Canada (Mr Jelly Roll himself hid out in Vancouver for two years) and the only reason Benny Goodman reached an audience at all was because they put him on so late at night that none of the squaresville east coast kids would be up that late, but the WEST coast hipsters would later bombard the Palladium trying to see this sensation. Mingus was evicted from his studio at the HEIGHT of his career, and Coltrane, Shepp, Cecil Taylor et all would often play halls that had no electricity because they weren’t ‘halls’ they were what most people would call abandoned buildings in the East Village.
    Today’s ‘stars’ (I hate the concept as much as the word for it) have it MADE man, they can live anywhere and get instant world-wide distribution for the cost of an internet connection and a $200 handy H2-Zoom recorder! Louis Armstrong didn’t have that, early jazz didn’t even get into the studios (mostly) and if your skin was the wrong colour, you’d have to wait for Benny or Artie to smuggle you on to the airwaves!
    And then there’s Ornette, who waited how many years before people would give him the time of day? They STILL never play Sun Ra on the so-called ‘Jazz’ radio in Toronto, not even when the Arkestra is making an exceedingly rare visitation to their city!
    HM: Many jazz musicians in ye olden times peaked in their 20s or 30, were certainly known by their 50s . . .there are very few now even in their late 40s and 50s regarded as “stars” (not my fave concept, either), and though they may have very solid achievements, sometimes exciting and highly creative, little drawing power and visibility either locally or internationally. The internet and online video hasn’t changed that, for mainstream jazz musicians or jazz-beyond-jazzers, either.