David Liebman, the perpetually searching saxophonist, has been playing festivals all over the world. He emphasizes that he is not complaining, but he is disturbed by the reaction of people attending those high-priced events.
If anything concerning the question of communication is at all relevant, it is for me about the degree of successful interaction between band members. Doing this to the best of our abilities is the mechanism for demonstrating our respect for the audience. Miles used to say when he turned his back, it was to play to the band so they could hear him better.
(Just to be sure we are on the same page, I am obviously talking about the kind of audience that is there to hear jazz by design, not by mistake. In other words, opening for the Rolling Stones for example is just not relevant to this discussion.)
…Therefore when I look out and “vibe” the audiences I have encountered this summer ranging from Los Angeles to Rome to down the road from where I live, it amazes me that so many people can just sit there and not react at all. It seems the bigger the gig and the higher the fee, the more tepid the reaction.
To read all of Liebman’s essay. go to his newsletter, Intervals.