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How do we perserve the value of jazz and what role do musicians especially black play?

I think that most all who enjoy the artistry presented in jazz music will undoubtedly say it has and is should be a valued aspect of our American heritage. The fact that it as been proclaimed by our national legislative branch as "an American Treasure" attest to that. However, with such a following and jesture of recognition, the art has nearly ceased in broader terms of its existance. I've read that from 1955 thru 1978, 75% of all music broadcasted was jazz based. Ironically, our nation experienced its greatest social revolutions and advances during this same period. Our educational systems as one example, nationwide were if nothing else more structured and disciplined than today dispite our struggles to intergrate as Americans all. Jazz music was a consistant conscienceness within the process. Which indicates and identified its value. Since that time the art as declined consistently until today, one is hard pressed to hear it on radio and even harder pressed to find live venues that present it. We can articulate many rational explanations for the why nots but, if the losses have been greater than the gains, the how to's are the importants.

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Hello Curtis
You have asked two separate questions, both of which are very tricky to answer. Regarding your first question, "How do we preserve the value of jazz?" That is impossible to answer objectively, because each individual will come to it from a different pespective, based upon their own experience of life and of music, and upon their own social/political/cultural values.
For example, if one asked the question, how do we preserve the value of family relationships, or the value of integrity in public life, or the value of the natural environment, one could make references to the role of government, voluntary groups, religion. the education system etc. etc. to help form a coherent viewpoint which is capable of being discussed, codified, and appropriate conclusions reached, - or disputed. But in the case of your question you have posed regarding the value of jazz, it does not readily lend itself to those areas of thinking. - The "value of jazz" is a very subjective value, which is individual to how each person sees it, and how each person views jazz and views the world.
Regarding your second question, what role do musicians, especially black play?
Again, it is very difficult to provide an objective answer to that. Everyone will come at it from their own individual perspective.
For example, in my own case my efforts to express myself through jazz improvisation involve such things as making what I consider to be pleasing connections between notes and groups of notes, incorporating melody, lyricism, rythme, effective key changes harmonic relationships, tonal quality, expressiveness, half remembered perfomances from from old records - not just of "jazz" but of gypsy music, french chanson, folksong operetta etc. consciously wishing to connect to the listeners. It starts with my own intellectual processes and actual time spent studying and practising, and the intention is to end with some sort of uplifting experience both to the listener and to myself and my fellow musicians in the actual performance, in which the listener is not aware of all the effort I have put into the music. It is the nature of thing that, of course, this ideal never quite happens. The struggle to produce lovely sounds goes on endlessly, at some performances I nearly reach what I intended, for maybe one nice phrase, or even on a whole chorus.
In that context I can't get my head around the concept that there is a greater role in preserving the value of jazz for musicians of one skin colour than for musicians of another skin colour. But, as I said everyone comes at it from a different perspective.

regards
Peter
My knee jerk response to what I interpret your questions are, is:
Just keep playing anywhere and everywhere you can... whatever music you consider to be jazz!
Be supportive of others interested in this form of music. Share in order to educate those who were
not around when jazz and blues began. How else WOULD you preserve anything's value... but to acknowledge it to the best of your ability and with the respect you personally wish to bestow upon it (jazz) or any other piece of history you wish not to loose.

Why especially black musician? You must have a point there, but I'm not too certain what that may be.
The history? Additional responsibility? Obligation? I respect that you had something in mind with that twist in
your quary, but I'm not too certain that it makes a difference as to color. Just as jazz is such a beautiful mix of sounds, soul and instruments, so are the talented creative peoples who involve themselves into a world still full of jazz... in my humble opinion.... I can find jazz just minutes away in all directions, and on any given day or night of the week here in California.

Now, having said all of that... yes, I agree, it's not as it was back when.... but niether is alot of music. But if you want to find it... you can. First you must know that it exists... so in schools, we need to keep music appreciation and be sure to address the blues and jazz era and it's roots. So, maybe there is the answer to preserving our American Treasure. Teach our children....

Be well... Jody

Nice to
Black musicians can act as role models and representatives to the younger generations more effectively for obvious reasons. In a city like New Orleans, where many kids are at risk of succumbing to gang violence and drugs, there are few musicians that have taken it upon themselves to press the value of a disciplined art form like jazz as a deterrent from less productive hobbies or habits. For example, drummer Derrick Tabb who started The Roots of Music, a free music education program that provides free tutoring, instruments, and music instruction to over 100 students. CNN did an online feature... http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/archive09/derrick.tabb.html
Another notable musician is Dr. Michael White, a local clarinetist and professor of Spanish and African American Music at Xavier University. White has been instrumental in spreading the essence of traditional jazz inside the classroom and out with many philanthropic endeavors. He recently received the 2010 Humanist of the Year award from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. His latest release, Blue Crescent, is out on Basin Street Records- basinstreetrecords.com-
I think the reason we're having a hard time in preserving the value of jazz to can simply be seen in the replies to this topic. With more than 1,000 members and with this question being up for more than a year, there have been only 3 prior and now 4 responses. Simply put we can't preserve the value of anything if we don't first truly show that it is of some value to us. Of course this is just a blog and yes people may be busy and not have thought about answering it, but when I comes to jazz music I believe this is how many of us act about "preserving" the value of jazz. We might "support" the others from a behind the scenes kind of role but when it comes to actually letting others know about the true value of jazz it's impossible because others can easily see that we don't value it ourselves. I think the way to preserve the value of jazz is realizing it's true VALUE and then going out and trying to spread that spark with others who don't see that value. It's pointless to be trying to preserve the value of jazz with people who are already jazz fans, the task has already been dealt with. To preserve the value of jazz we have to as someone else mentioned exactly one year ago is to instill this sense of "value" in the music in our youth. And youth not just being your own children, share it with someone else's kids if they're not. And youth doesn't stop at age17 or 18. For most people I know they never really listened to jazz at all until college, where I was able to instill in a lot of them the sense of value in this genre of music.

As far as what role do black musicians play...I believe we play the same role that all musicians do in preserving the value of music nationally and on a global level. But as far as preserving the value for the black community, I feel we play the same role that black teachers and black doctors do. The same way that black teachers can serve as role models and influence young blacks in a way that no one else can, I believe black musicians have the same type of authority in preserving this music of jazz.

Most of us have more than a lot on our plate; even so, I think that, one thing that we, as musicians, can definitely do more of is to act and think more often in terms of being united, even if our fello players are not always promising us a million dollars tomorrow. This business of unity is more important than ever it seems to me.
For example, we could probably do better to collaborate on finding more work for each other.


Ian Dylan




Peter de Wit said:
Hello Curtis
You have asked two separate questions, both of which are very tricky to answer. Regarding your first question, "How do we preserve the value of jazz?" That is impossible to answer objectively, because each individual will come to it from a different pespective, based upon their own experience of life and of music, and upon their own social/political/cultural values.
For example, if one asked the question, how do we preserve the value of family relationships, or the value of integrity in public life, or the value of the natural environment, one could make references to the role of government, voluntary groups, religion. the education system etc. etc. to help form a coherent viewpoint which is capable of being discussed, codified, and appropriate conclusions reached, - or disputed. But in the case of your question you have posed regarding the value of jazz, it does not readily lend itself to those areas of thinking. - The "value of jazz" is a very subjective value, which is individual to how each person sees it, and how each person views jazz and views the world.
Regarding your second question, what role do musicians, especially black play?
Again, it is very difficult to provide an objective answer to that. Everyone will come at it from their own individual perspective.
For example, in my own case my efforts to express myself through jazz improvisation involve such things as making what I consider to be pleasing connections between notes and groups of notes, incorporating melody, lyricism, rythme, effective key changes harmonic relationships, tonal quality, expressiveness, half remembered perfomances from from old records - not just of "jazz" but of gypsy music, french chanson, folksong operetta etc. consciously wishing to connect to the listeners. It starts with my own intellectual processes and actual time spent studying and practising, and the intention is to end with some sort of uplifting experience both to the listener and to myself and my fellow musicians in the actual performance, in which the listener is not aware of all the effort I have put into the music. It is the nature of thing that, of course, this ideal never quite happens. The struggle to produce lovely sounds goes on endlessly, at some performances I nearly reach what I intended, for maybe one nice phrase, or even on a whole chorus.
In that context I can't get my head around the concept that there is a greater role in preserving the value of jazz for musicians of one skin colour than for musicians of another skin colour. But, as I said everyone comes at it from a different perspective.

regards
Peter
Jazz was created by the black experience and the only one that has chronicled the whole time of the existence of africans in the western hemisphere. To ignore the fact that there are lineages that some say were not legitimate years ago,today the jazz trumpet is the longest in the modern culture. Jazz in the only music that teaches where gospel, blues, rock and all the rest came from! Jazz is the only music that says if you like music learn how to play, instead of having to be 'holy' or saved as in gospel or 'young' as in funk. You do not see folks getting into funk playing -wise after they are 21 yrs old, they either have it by then or will never get it.The problem is in it's 'American' designation as opposed to just USA. Berklee has done wonders because they offered scholarships world-wide to spread the music. We should have learned from Europeans who already went through the class,national, religious, struggles in their music. Great composers came later than artists there so music was not the backbone of the arts. In USA because of slavery music is the backbone of the arts, the singers and players suffered first! The Harlem renaissance was about the arts playing 'catch -up' quiet as it is kept.So many performers in the arts do not want to really study or delve into the music when they had the time and opportunity. It is a great thing when we can have this discussion here and not sit back and let things go down.

Over 1,694 members and only 4 responses. Mmmmmm...You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it Drink.....

I love jazz ? Well I was fortunate in remembering my parents like jazz artists or music played by them. In the 60s I heard my Dad talking about Jimmy Smith, Ahmad Jamal,Benson, etc. coming thru town. Turns out most music he liked was played by jazz artists but he rarely played records or went to concerts other than in bars(chitlin circuit).. I thought I'd play jazz when I got older and the truth is all the jazz greats/legends/artists played jazz when they were young as did blues greats. My opinion is jazz should be played to folks when they are young and by adolescence. There are more young folks into jazz today than 40 or 50 years ago. I started playing jazz to make money in high school but more seriously listened and studied in college and afterwards while working a city job. My dad went to NYC to see Freddie Hubbard (80s)and that was entertainment to him but in our family environment he never played his 'Lockjaw' records.My mom likes Dinah Washington, Jonah Jones and Nancy Wilson and more a variety and her brother was a prominent local jazz favorite and played actively till he was 69 yrs old.Part of being educated to me is knowing the evolution of the music and everyone has seen the rise of Motown, the black prominence in basketball and football. So it is the Black media's fault that jazz is not really given the space or the props it deserves because it precedes Johnson publications etc. Jake Feinberg a Jewish guy born in 1978 says how come the black media did not promote the Black jazz label in the 70s? Jake is doing phone interviews with jazz greats and says the 70s were a period of experimentation where artists used technology to merge jazz, funk, rock etc. today gospel and other music benefit from the secular sound of jazz which always had a 'sanctified ' component just as it has blues.  I went to sit in at a 'jam session ' and the star of the show waved me off after the 'god' of the city played a searing solo on 'All The Things You are'. Why do they invite and even call them 'jam sessions'? I think the big boys do not know what is going on sometimes!

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