Published since 2008
Eric Benson writes for New York Magazine and blogs at invertedgarden.com.
Since the early 1980s, jazz has been engaged in its own nonviolent, low-intensity civil war. Decentralized and often unrelated bands of avant-gardists, fusionistas, and other dissidents have struggled to defend their territory against the fast encroaching empire of the Young Lions—those hard swinging, neo-traditionalist post-boppers who stormed the scene, gobbled up the money, and wrote their own victor's history. In 1996, when the Lincoln Center Board voted to install Jazz at Lincoln Center as a permanent part of the institution's programming, the Young Lions' victory seemed complete. Five years later, documentarian Ken Burns codified the Young Lions' take on jazz history for the public-television-watching masses: jazz died in the 70s, Wynton Marsalis—the mightiest of all Young Lions—and his minions resurrected it in the 80s, Jazz at Lincoln Center solidified those gains in the 90s, the future of jazz will sound a lot like its past.
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