David Chesky: Making Music in the Moment
AAJ: Is there one thing you call yourself above the others?
DC: My identity, if it was a perfect world, I guess would be a composer. Unfortunately, the music I write, I have to do something to subsidize it. I want to record my violin concerto, and my clarinet and guitar concerto. If I want to do that kind of music, I need to subsidize, because the problem is with the society. We don’t put value on it. So I have to do this, or teach. A lot of great jazz musicians are teaching at universities because they can’t make it.
What perplexes me is that we don’t really need skill in art anymore. If I go to a brain surgeon, that guy better go to school. I went to this IJAE thing, and I was just so humbled by all these young, talented, brilliant kids we have in this country. There were so many great groups. I heard the North Texas thing, the U of Miami band, the Oregon State Jazz Choir. What talent. And you know what the sad thing is? We take the best of this country and we squash them. These kids will be playing weddings and bar mitzvahs and christenings. And then we take the worst of this country, people have no education in music and just do it, and we make them our idols. It totally perplexes me. It’s inverse. The taste in this country has been going down ever since the ’40s. In the ’40s, Glen Miller and Artie Shaw and these guys, they were pop guys, but they were such schooled musicians. And then you get to the rock and roll era, and it gets lower. And now it’s so dumbed down that the people who create music know nothing about it.
I just think we don’t require skill in art anymore. That’s what perplexes me, because it’s totally commercially driven. The lowest common denominator. But we have great musicians in this country. We just need to water them, like a flower, and let them grow, and respect them and encourage them. But we don’t.
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