There’s this running question in the jazz world about “growing the audience,” finding a way to get people to want to listen to jazz again. It’s kind of a bummer topic, since the whole thing is predicated on acknowledging that jazz isn’t really all that popular anymore.
But it’s also a really interesting thing to talk about, since it requires us to take stock of jazz’s musical legacy, and why it is that we teach the music in the first place. Jazz was the jumping-off point for me to get into so many other kinds of music, and at this point, I’ve begun to think of music a bit more holistically both in terms of education and performance.
Anyway! I wrote a big article for my music section at Kotaku about the idea of “growing the jazz audience,” and why A) that’s probably impossible, at least by the narrower definition of “jazz” and B) that’s totally okay. Which really, is only a depressing conclusion if you’re so hung up on the idea of traditional jazz that you simply can’t look beyond it.
Today’s jazz musicians (and jazz-program graduates) are versed in so many different types of music, from straight-ahead bebop to electronic trance to pop to heavy metal, that labeling them “jazz musicians” feels like a misnomer. Jazz may be the root of most modern musical training—it’s where rock, hip-hop and funk all came from, after all—but to pretend that musicians who can play all of that music must or should make a living playing jazz feels like a narrow viewpoint.
Go read the whole article: