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The operative phrase for me in this article was
her reference to her fiance educating her about
The idea of having to learn about the music in order
to appreciate is one that may seem like second nature
to jazz fans, but listening to and enjoying popular music,
classical music or R&B would seem to take a lot less
effort. Also, what if one happens not to have a fiance
or SO who can provide the education?
After decades of loving Jazz from afar, I finally got my education by watching "Jazz: a film by Ken Burns". It's not exactly a broad taxonomy of the genre, but it gives you an idea of who the cornerstones are and when they were prominent. Never looked back!
I never found "enjoying" jazz to be something that wasn't just second nature. But music, and musical STYLES are like a language. You don't think so much about the language as you do about what's being SAID. But if you're in a room full of people speaking a different language, how can you even begin to appreciate what they're talking about?
I grew up listening to rock and blues, but around the house my parents listened to the "pop" music of THEIR day (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Nat Cole). So I was familiar with many of the standard tunes that jazz musicians played, even though in watered down "pop" interpretations. This familiarity with the LANGUAGE made it easier to hear and understand what jazz players were doing as they interpreted these tunes. When I finally started hearing Bebop at around age 19 or 20, it was like a revelation. This door just swung open and I realized that there was a much hipper way to interpret that language.
The current problem we have with building a jazz audience is that we've now got generation(s) of people who are NOT familiar with the basics of the language, making it ALL seem like gibberish to them. As a jazz teacher at a university, I used to be constantly amazed when students would tell me they'd NEVER heard of even the most STANDARD of standard tunes (things like "All the Things You Are," "My Funny Valentine" or "Body and Soul"). It was baffling to me how a person could get to be 18-22 years of age without hearing and being aware of these tunes. But then I came to realize that the music of their PARENTS was Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc. Hell, they don't even know tunes by the BEATLES!
What does this mean for jazz? I don't know, but the immediate impact that I see is that the audience keeps shrinking. We've done a GREAT job of educating musicians and the young players out there right now are probably the BEST the world has ever seen. But where do they get to PLAY, and HOW will they make a living?
Jane Ira Bloom
Lisa Young AU
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