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On and Off the Grid

The Grammy Awards: To Be or Not To Be?

By Published: June 7, 2012
How important is the Grammy Awards to you?

"They aren't important at all. The Grammy represent commercial music with an artistic sheen, so I don't see it as an event representing something important—just touting who is commercially successful or exciting. There are great moments, such as Esperanza winning, but these are rare."

Do you think they are fair?

"What do you mean by fair? If you mean fair for all musicians, well no but that isn't their point in the first place. They aren't about music in the end."

Fay has a totally opposing view from the others. A few weeks ago I might have agreed with her. What made me change? I have always felt that as much as I love jazz, the jazz community has been going downhill since the early sixties. And no matter what kind of jazz musician you are, from so-called commercial to free form improviser, we need wider recognition in order to sustain. It is no longer a matter of black or white; it's a matter of jazz—and we need to come together as one.

Judi Silvano hit the nail on the head: "I wish more of my colleagues would participate and vote." I contacted Annika Frank of the Recording Academy and asked how big the membership is and how many are jazz members? Her reply was: "Thank you for your email. We currently have 11,930 registered voting members throughout the United States, with 838 reporting jazz their primary genre." That's approximately a little more that 7%.

Seven percent is very little in comparison to the other genres. There must be a hell of a lot more jazz recording musicians out there. If we want to be noticed, we have to join and we have to vote. Again, we the musicians must take responsibility for sustaining our craft. There is power in numbers. Somehow the big companies have to invest in jazz in order to educate the public. Instead of posting videos on YouTube, TV shows need to be created even if they are specials on a major network and not on PBS. Kids don't watch PBS.

Years ago, Dr. Billy Taylor
Billy Taylor
Billy Taylor
1921 - 2010
piano
had a weekly TV show and as a young kid I couldn't wait to see it every week. Hugh Hefner produced a show called, Live at The Playboy Penthouse, and every week there was a special jazz artist featured. We, as jazz artists, deserve this.

The only way this music is going to survive is exposure, exposure, and more exposure. Maybe in the near future jazz will have its own televised Grammy Awards show and I will finally watch a worthwhile awards show that means something to me.

Photo Credits

Page 2, Pat Martino: John Broughton

Page 3, Roseanna Vitro: John Abbott

Page 3, Judi Silvano: Courtesy of Judi Silvano
Judi Silvano
Judi Silvano

vocalist


Page 4, Fay Victor: Hans Speekenbrink


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