No Future Without New Fans
if you want to play a gig in New York City (and many other places around the country), the onus is on you to book, promote, create the music, rehearse the band and bring bodies willing to buy drinks at the show. This is a difficult task in any music style, now add the baggage and preconceived notions surrounding the word "jazz." It is incredibly difficult to get young people unattached to jazz to want to see even their musician friends at such a club. To reach a younger audience it is common sense to look at how music styles with actual young fans present their music. In New York, I see many of my contemporaries playing in non-traditional music venues. These musicians are using projectors and various technologies to draw listeners into their music and create a multimedia experience. If we want to see new young audience members at instrumental shows we must go to them not only musically but physically too (to the places they see live music).
We don't owe the older generation anything. Pursuing only the tradition won't get us anywhere. We have given of enough of ourselves and we have been left with a broken financial system in this jazz world. We aren't going to come up with new scales, chords, or rhythmic relationships, but we do have the freedom to reject previous styles and build a music community that draws on both the strength of virtuoso instrumentalist and the strengths of current popular and relevant music styles.. We don't need to focus on selling jazz. We need to focus on selling the idea that playing an instrument can be a career and that it can be entertaining to all people, not just other musicians. We need to focus on appealing to and inspiring younger audiences to learn what we do. There will be no prolonged success if we cannot entertain the youth.
We are Stretch, All are Welcome!
[Special thanks to Jon Crowley, for his assistance in the creation of this article. The views represented in this article are the views of John Beaty alone.]