Top 50 JAzz Blog

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What's In A Name?

Chris B.

Is it churlish to question whether some musicians should be called "jazz" musicians? I doubt it keeps them up at night and in fact, calling yourself a jazz artist is probably a bad career move.  It's not a question of chops and whether someone deserves to be put under the jazz umbrella. I mean, who's the arbiter? And who really gives a crap?

And yet...
Bubber M.
If we care about getting the young 'uns to tune into jazz and discover the rich history of the music, maybe we should be aware that some of the popular performers labeled as "jazz" are probably even less interesting to people under 21 than Pee Wee Russell, Bubber Miley or Roswell Rudd would be.

Youth is a time when the debate about who is "keepin it real" is even more extreme and heated than it is among us elderlys. The DIY movement prefers vinyl to mp3 and I imagine a solid campaign behind 78's with a little surface noise would get traction.

Yea, there's always a lot of "fronting" about realness. Maybe it's the physical needs charged up by hormones run amok, but however you explain it, intensity and challenge are highly valued in the young. And, when everything is so available, difficulty and scarcity create value; create charisma.

Rex S.

I know, this is beginning to look like the "5 reasons not to use the word jazz" list, but let those who care be conscious of how they throw the word jazz out there.  Keep in mind that music that soothes rather than disrupts and lulls rather than challenges will get the swift boot by young people. Give em Trane, Cecil, Rex Stewart and Oscar Pettiford. That might shake some adolescent trees.


Nadia Noetzel said...
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Steve Provizer said...


Thanks so much for your comment and your compliment. What you say about confusion concerning "jazz" is certainly an issue-and will probably remain one. That's why I think that we should try and not label as jazz the music of musicians unlikely to lead young people to explore the heart of this music.

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Steve Provizer said...

Thanks, Andyflower.

M. Figg said...

Love this topic and your discussion of it, and I always enjoy your blog.

I'd also add that while history isn't every young person's favorite subject, and in the end it should come down to the music, a little bit of personal and cultural context behind these players might go a long way: you want sex, drugs and ticking off the establishment? Look no further than Jelly Roll Morton, Charlie Parker and Benny Goodman, kids!

Steve Provizer said...

M-Thanks for the comment. You're right, of course. LIttle do the young ones know that, although rock ended up with the mantle, jazz was the music of rebellion through much of the 20th century. And, people being what they are, knowing about some of jazz's "sordid" history would probably make the music more compelling.