“ In fact, that's when I realized that producing a big website is like making a movie. ”
Aside from my book ( How to Make It Big in the New Music Biz ), I haven't done much writing the past few years. I've been busy creating websites, lots of them. I'm not a company, just a smart guy who can do a lot and when I can't, uses talented contractors. It's very labor intensive work, which means that some of these sites take months to produce.
I just finished Billy Taylor's new website , which I started in December. It's a big one, took six months. Right now I'm working on Joe Lovano's site, and Dave Liebman's, and a small site for my friend Jimmy Eigo of Jazz Promo Services, as well as a site for an Indonesian boat.
All from my home situated between the Catalina and Tucson mountains. Yeah, it's beautiful here, but there's no Jazz, no Chinatown, no bialys, oh forget about it. After thirty plus years in New York and everything it had to offer, somehow, I ended in the Southwest. I'd been working on the Web since '95, producing content and sites. When the stock market crashed in 2000, I was still working for a start-up making big bucks, but I knew it was almost over. So right before 911, I moved out here and used my dotcom money to buy a nice house. Tucson is cheaper than New York, but culturally its, well, not New York. What else is?
Thanks to my cable modem, and all my friends in the Jazz world, I've made a life out here by producing websites. Yet most of the time I don't ever meet my clients face to face, it's all phone and email. I must admit, I have mixed feelings about that. Some of the time, it would be much easier to actually be there. And now, with Billy and Joe's sites, I need to be spending more time in NYC, working with these cats.
How did I get here, anyway?
I was thinking about my pre-web experience, what qualified me for this sort of work. After all, when I was a kid, who knew I'd grow up to become a producer of websites for Jazz musicians. No surprise about the Jazz part of that, 'cause I've been into the music since I was thirteen. But when I was just getting into Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, the Internet didn't even exist. That was forty years ago, just a decade short of a half century. Am I that old?
Actually, I wish I started this life a little sooner, because if I was older, I could have seen Bird and Trane and Ben Webster and Clifford Brown. Coltrane was around when I was first getting into the music, but at fourteen, he was a little beyond me. By the time I "heard" him, he was gone, although his music, like the rest of this stuff, is eternal.
When my ears really opened up, back in the late 60s, I was going to NYU Film School, learning how to make movies. I worked in documentaries and industrials for a few years after I graduated, and then after some experience on a local New York tv talk show, I ended up being a Jazz writer. That started in '77 with the publication of my first article for Down Beat, "Jazz Warrior Marches On," about a man who would become a close friend of mine, Walter Bishop, Jr. Eighteen years and hundreds of articles and liner notes later, I signed on with N2K in 1995, to produce Jazz Central Station, the first major Jazz website.
I'd been using computers since 1984, but all the web stuff was new, not only for me, but for everyone else as well. In early 1995, when we started to put Jazz Central Station together, the web was a promise, a big one. Yet it was still related, in kind of an offbeat yet familiar way, to other media, so some of the same principals applied. N2K turned out to be a big company, lots of people, lots of jobs. Like a movie studio.
In fact, that's when I realized that producing a big website is like making a movie. So there's the connection with my past. I grew up wanting to make films, and ended up being a writer. That morphed into web producer, and what I do today, in a 21st century kind of way, is make movies about Jazz musicians.
What I want to do with this Blog is spit out the contents of my heada rather iconoclastic amalgam of Jazz, the Internet and my multi-cultural life. I'm a rather opinionated guy so that won't be difficult. And like Nat Hentoff, I have some strong feelings about our present democracy. What the future of this country might be, I'm not quite sure. Long-term, I'd have to say it's lookin' pretty bleak.
By nature, I'm not a pessimist. But with mankind's stupidity, and brutality, it would appear that the destiny of our species is eventual extinction.
Our technology is great, I love being able to watch a webcast of Herbie Hancock live at the Quincy Jones "We Are The Future" Rome concert, and then check out an archived BBC interview with Joe Zawinul by Julian Joseph. It's there if you know how to find it. Very cool. The web just gets better and better. No doubt about that.
Once Internet 2 arrives, the web will replace conventional television, so there are all kinds of incredible possibilities on the horizon.
If we make it.