Take Five With JC Stylles
Desert Island picks:
Charlie Parker, The Very Best Of The Dial Years (Master Classics, 2005);
George Benson, Weekend in L.A. (Warner Brothers, 1977);
Wes Montgomery, Further Adventures Of Jimmy Smith And Wes Montgomery (Verve, 1966);
Miles Davis, Sorcerer (Columbia/Legacy, 1966);
Bobby Hutherson, Cruisin' The Bird (Landmark, 1988).
How would you describe the state of jazz today?
Struggling between those that can swing and express emotion that can be felt by playing from the heart, and those that are thinking too much and playing from the head from over-schooling, without allowing their knowledge to settle and mature.
What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
Firstly, that jazz musicians take on some responsibility of presenting a music that makes people feel better for having heard it, and leave wanting to go back and hear it again, rather than the "I want to be recognized as a creative musical genius" selfish image I encounter a lot of the time, and exclude the very richness in the history of this music that made it appeal to people in the first place. Give them a melody they can hang on to, a rhythm they can feel, firstly, and you can get as creative as you want after that because you have earned their trust now.
We live in an age now where there are more distractions than ever before, with TV, cable, games, sports, reality shows, etc., and then we get mad when we go play whole tone scales all night thinking that is being so creativewhile people walk out the door. I seem to recall that a couple geniuses way before jazz, like Mozart and Beethoven, could write incredible works of art and themes and variations on four or five notes of the Ionian scale! There comes a time when one has to determine that if you stretch something too much, whether it be music or a rubber band, it gets to the point of weakness, not strength, and it is worse, not better, and it is no longer useful in the way it was.
We have had some great advances in this music giving us the powerful primary musical colors. If you like, you can mix those colors anyway you want to be "creative," but if you keep mixing so many together, pretty soon the murky shade you have made might appeal to you only, and maybe your fellow musician who thinks it's pretty cool. Hope you two can pay your bills and feed your family with that!
It would also be helpful if "jazz" radio stations who ask listeners to contribute to their membership drives, perhaps give independent jazz musicians who have a quality product to present a fair hearing and play them on the air, too. That way they might get more gigs due to awareness, make some more money, and be able to contribute more back to their radio station on top of the membership fees they have already paid, for a win-win.
What is in the near future?
Looking at doing some work with organist Tony Monaco later in the year and we are presently looking at appropriate venues in New York to do some cookin.' Any venues that want to be considered, holla back!
JC and the JazzHoppersLive Vibe is due out for release after September this year, and I am heading back into the studio with this current generation of JazzHoppers featuring Akiko Tsuruga and Sir Earl Grice Jr.
I work on playing jazz and everything involved with that to try and pay the rent and feed my family.