Marty Khan Interview: About His Book "Straight Ahead"
MK: In general, it's not. We aren't providing reviewers' copiesnot even at a reduced rate. We had to decide about this when we first released the book, along with whether we should provide gratis copies to institutions which may want to use it as a textbook. We decided against it in both cases. Regarding schools, our board of directors felt that since we're asking working musicians and students to pay full price, it would be wrong to let institutions get it for free. Institutions charging thousands of dollars in tuition fees should be able to invest $50 in the only book that covers this materialand comprehensively at that. The Teacher's Guide is only $10.
As for the publications, I don't really feel that this is a book for review. First of all, with all due respectand I mean that literallywriters are generally terribly uninformed when it comes to the business of jazz. And considering what jazz publications and websites pay for reviews, how much work is going to go into reading a 400+ page book, understanding its content, and then writing about it from a reasonably intelligent point? Who would put in a minimum of 40 to 80 hours or so necessary to make 50 bucks for the review? More likely, the book would be skimmed, interpreted either generally or from a purely personal perspective of pre-existing opinions (alliteration unintended) and then written about to represent the writer's viewpoint. What good does that do for anybody? They could get all the information they need for that from our website, but it wouldn't be "legitimate" because they wouldn't have the book in handwhich they probably wouldn't read in as much detail as they would read the material on the site.
I really see this as a news item, for which the material on our website is totally sufficient. The first book of its kind, presenting this kind of information from the view of a qualified professional with 35 years of experience? Seems newsworthy to me.
SR: Is it getting news coverage?
MK: Not especially. A few items here and there on the Internet. I did an interview with KKJZ (KJAZZ 88.1 FM) in Long Beach, and one with jazzguitarworld.com. The written media has ignored it.
SR: Any ideas as to why that's so?
MK: Who knows? Maybe they feel that not sending them a review copy is too arrogant. Maybe they expect us to buy an ad first. Maybe it's just my anti-industry reputation. Maybe they feel that the content of the book isn't relevant to their readership.
SR: I don't know. I would think that this book should be extremely relevant to anyone who reads jazz and music magazines. At the very least I would think it's worth a news blurb.
MK: You think? (laughter)
SR: One last item. Other than a brief statement at the very end of the book and some references to "plantation mentality" you seem to be avoiding the issue of race throughout the book. I assume that was deliberate.
MK: Yes, definitely. The smart-assed explanation is to say that Straight Ahead isn't about black and white, it's about green. But really, what real value exists in my opinions in this context? The information I'm laying down here is from direct experience. It would be quite presumptuous and arrogant for me to be telling some young African-American musician what he or she is going to be up against here in the American marketplace due to racial issues. Or how they could turn it to their advantage here or there.
And I'm certainly not looking to participate in any Pops vs. Bix controversies, or even comment on who has what right to embrace which cultural traditions, or which race has made greater contributions to the legacy and all of that other stuff that may be interesting to some. Do I have opinions? Sure. I have an opinion on just about everything. But so what? Who cares? It's not pertinent to the subject matter this book is intended to cover. That's just a no-win game that I have no desire to play. But folks can look at my teachers and the artists I've worked with and try to make their own judgment if that's what rings their bell. I don't care.
SR: On that note, I hope that this book is able to help accomplish what you're intending. Good luck with it.
MK: Thank you, my brother. Peace and A Love Supreme.
Straight Ahead: A Comprehensive Guide to the Business of Jazz (Without Sacrificing Dignity or Artistic Integrity) and the Teacher's Guide with Suggested Assignments are available at the Outward Visions.