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You express some nice thoughts and goals and I wish you luck. Hell, I'll probably be one of the first people who discovers your music and gives it an honest listen.
But you're gonna find that most people aren't gonna take your movement seriously when you wear your inferiority complex on your sleeve like that.
These epic declarations that jazz is dead are becoming laughably cliche. It all comes off like a lot of overreaching. It is all reminiscent of a person constantly grumbling how "this town sucks" to anyone who will listen before finally finally moving away, then going so far as to call back home just to remind friends how bad they have it.
Jazz is not dead. Jazz is evolving, just like any artform. It reflects the viewpoint of the Artists of Today, and that viewpoint is rarely sized up properly in the context of the genre until time has passed and we're able to look back upon it with the wisdom gained in that time. That is why Kind of Blue became so popular long after its release date and why many innovative artists didn't see much success until long after their introduction to the scene.
Why the need to declare jazz dead? Would your Stretch Movement be somehow de-legitimized if you admitted that jazz was alive and kicking? What would be so wrong with simply saying, hey, we love jazz, but we're looking for something different, both in our art and in the infrastructure? Usually when there's a fussy display of hubris, that's a pretty good indicator that any proclamations are mostly superficial.
You want Stretch to flourish? Then don't get so obsessed over the health of jazz. If Stretch is simply a method for correcting all of the mistakes jazz made, then you're not a different movement at all, you're just one more person's view of jazz. And that's all it is... a viewpoint. Jazz is multifaceted and how one person sees it isn't how the next person will.
Jazz isn't dead, it's just dead to you. And there's nothing wrong with that. I love hearing an artist say they're going to do something New, something that's never been done before. That's awesome. I look forward to hearing it.
And you have avenues that the Jazz artists of yesterday never had. I mean, you just posted an article on an online site that gets about 2.3 million visitors a month. Go ahead and blame old school jazz artists for all you want, but you can't blame them for not inventing the internet. The internet and the digital age opens up things for musicians; it's a game changer, and you have no one to blame but yourself for not only taking advantage of all it has to offer but to discover and build new avenues for utilizing it.
Good luck with Stretch and be sure to keep in touch. Get your music up online, let people stream it in full, use alternate pricing methods, stream live shows... give listeners/buyers a full faith introduction to your vision.
But remember, setting out to blaze new trails is different than simply tossing a match on what's already there. Your article's title is all wrong; it should've simply said "The Future of Stretch".
Well put D Sumner!
There are a few items that caught my attention:
First, it sounds like one of the pillars for this movement is commercial success: "What we should focus on creating are successful instrumental musicians who can achieve wide commercial success." - one of the things I enjoy about jazz is the fact that an artists vision is usually the driving force.....not a focus on commercial success. If I was interested in listening to things that were commercially successful, I'd go get the latest CD by the flavor-of-the-month boyband that was assembled specifically to make millions.
You also mention that describing your music as jazz is "useless...because it is vague, broad and ambiguous." - yet you describe Stretch as "instrumental hip hop/rock..."
How is that not vague? What kind of rock? pop rock? alternative rock? hair-band rock? grunge rock? and do we even want to look at everything that encompasses hip hop?
Every few years the idea "jazz is dead" surfaces. Critic Gary Giddins once commented that the phrase was a great way to increase published newspaper and magazine sales. I've heard the jazz is dead argument way too long...and then turn around and look at Moran, Mehldau, Redman, Neil Cowley, the Cohen's, Anat Fort, Hargrove, Bill Charlap, Christian McBride, Dave Douglas, Donny McCaslin, Eric Reed, Gerald Clayton, Lew Tabackin, Matthew Shipp, Omer Avital, Vijay Iyer,.........
And then I smile and realize jazz is alive and kickin'!
An interesting article but an irritating one for a few things.
BAM is the same of the UK MOBO (music of black origin) which basically wants to make a big thing out of race in music, which personally I think is wrong, but also is near impossible to do. MOBO every year have 'black' categories, such as RnB, jazz, soul, hip hop, and they're full of black, white, asian and latino artists. But it's ludicrous as there's very little music untouched by black people, and the same can be said for white people as well. Look at any of the top guitarists of all time lists, and who is near the top? Hendrix. He's black by the way. Who is one of the biggest selling hip hop artists of the last decade? Eminem. He's a white dude.
Jazz is dead? No it isn't. Jazz exists in a musical world for the most part outside of the 'pop' market. It always has done. It doesn't have instant hooks, and isn't fronted by scantily clad jailbait or oiled tanned torso flesh. Which is what is pushed onto the kids. If the kids reject that they look elsewhere, and they find rock, or hip hop, or whatever. They also find a group of people who also dig what they dig. Some though choose to look even further afield, and that's where classical, jazz, folk and many others come into play.
Anyway, what is Jazz? Improvised music? The saxophone? time signatures not in 4/4? Well they'll all be here for years to come.
Best of luck to BAM and STRETCH, but leave off of poor old jazz. It's not quite as bad as when people declare ROCK IS DEAD every five years, but it inhabits the same space.
When I first saw the word BAM, I immediately thought of the
Brooklny Academy of Music. Then I realized that Payton meant Black American Music which immediately told me that Stan Getz, Jerry Mulligan, Dave Brubeck and many white musicians had no right to play jazz, for according to Payton, Jazz is strictly black. I thought that all the years I have been playing jazz was to honor the black and white jazz musicians who were my heroes. Now I find out I'm wrong?
Now you come along and create Stretch and you are applying the same principles as Payton for music that you create. You want to be paid for all those hours you practiced and composed, well, so do I and many other musicians who have not only been playing longer and practicing longer than you have. What I don't get is, do you want the music to be more commercial or entertaining? It won't happen. The kinds of music that you and hundreds of musicians play belongs in the concert halls or festivals not in bars. Those days are well gone except for a few jazz clubs. The problem is too many colleges are producing too many future jazz musicians with nowhere to go or to make a living. Colleges make the music attractive but leave out the part about working or surviving. Jazz is not dead, but making a suitable living from it, might be.
I have several major problems with the set of ideas expressed in this article.
Musically, the new genre is described as "instrumental hip hop/rock played by true virtuoso instrumentalists". My first reaction was - what is new and exciting about such fusion? Hasn't it been exercised "along and across"? I imagine another cool band playing in this idiom but can't see space for a "new genre".
Furthermore (from pettition published on "Stretch" website)
"Stretch is a form of instrumental rock/hip hop that is predominantly in 4/4 or 3/4. We have shortened the length of our songs from the 20 minute self-indulgence of Jazz to around 4-5 minutes."
-- this doesn't sound cool at all. Severe "system" limitations straight away! The genre barely exists, but we already know that it is 4 by 4, 5 minutes long rock/hip hop chops. Totally predictable except one intrigue - how are those "true virtuoso instrumentalists" going to be involved?
Now, goals of this innovation have been expressed clearly:
"We think about what the listener wants to hear. We think about being entertainers again."
So we are not talking about art here? Let's put it straight, we discuss a marketting plan for young musicians. Well, you are right - jazz is a wrong place for those seeking commercial success, fame and wealth. There are hundreds of other musics, sub-musics and sub-sub-musics... Showbiz professionals have great imagination when it comes to invention of new labels for selling that yesterday pie again and again, and again.
It might be a good insight to start own top level domain "Stretch" instead of selling your creativity under the hood of rock, hip hop or whatever else. But again, pushing a new brand requirs considerable investments.
I instantly disliked attacking Jazz and making comparisons with Jazz. Unacceptable familiarity! Jazz is a significant part of human culture in 20th/21st century. And what is "Stretch" anyway? A word that today has zero meaning... at least as long as we don't hear any music. I'll leave BAM (which is a nonsence) outside the scope of this comment. Well, if we discussed Stretch vs. BAM that would sound appropriate.
Further, the author suggests that "it was jazz musicians' unwillingness to put themselves in the shoes of the listener that led to its failure..."
The idea that something wrong with music shows up in other paragraphs too. Music is fine and florishes, but the society is sick. Don't try to screw the music, awake the audience and heal the society!
Finally, the music is the best spokesman, the best advocate in such cases. Don't say a word, get your petition out of sight... this is not politics! A musician has that huge advantage over every politician or salesman - he can express himself through the music. Just sing and play! And leave the rest to us - listeners, critics, journalists, fellow musicians. You sing, we will tell you how it comes :)
I hope to hear a good sample of this "new thing" some time soon and make my opinion about it.
Geez, why do people have this faith that changing a genre name or coming up with a new genre name is really going to substantively change anything?
The original writer wants to make instrumental music commercially successful and reduce all song lengths to 4-5 minutes. Without hearing what this "Stretch" sounds like in all of its distinctive characteristics(?), this sounds like a recipe for smooth jazz to me- or at best, jazz funk. Unless you've got some substantively different idea about to structure instrumental music in a way that's accessible, then all we're talking about falling back on the very old, tried-and-true, hook n' groove formula.
Do you really, honestly think that the only reason instrumental music isn't popular is because of the song lengths, the "self-indulgent" solos, and the fact that instrumental musicians aren't known for their high fashion??
If only someone came up with a hit like "Watermelon Man" or "The In Crowd", and it was marketed correctly--then instrumental music could be popular again.
NOPE, sorry. The main reason instrumental music isn't popular is because people in the States are raised in more or less complete ignorance of it. You can't appreciate something you have no concept for, no frame of reference. Unless it becomes a greater part of the education system, and is able to enter the larger public consciousness, instrumental music will continue to have a very self-selecting audience consisting largely of those college educated folks who had instruments in the home.
A lot has been said in this article. a Lot has been commented...
I would like to attract the writers' attention to the following:
1. If Jazz is Dead Classical Music (or as Leonard Bernstein loved calling it "Written Music") is dead also... guess what... it's not dead... and that's true for the last say 500 hundred years. Classical music has always been alive and existed over centuries only because it had reach patrons of art and music. The same applies for it today. and it's alive and kicking. Just like jazz. true. It's not for everybody, but it's shouldn't be for everybody. That would make it pop(ular) music... this brings me to my second point.
2. The success of a music genre should not be measured through its financial success or popularity. Again I refer you to history of (classical) music. The test is the test of time. How many decades does a genre last. Jazz currently at about nine. Classical much more. Classical has passed the test of time. Not because the composers wrote what the public wanted to hear, or they made a lot of money (most of them were just poor). Only because they wrote from their hearts and souls and renewed the music while progressing through the century. That is the true test. Jazz is not dead. Classical music is the longest lasting type of music existing nowadays. I claim jazz is making the right steps towards becoming timeless as classical music. Hear Hear to unpopular music... Hear Hear to uncommercial music ... Hear Hear to music that stands the test of time.
I'd like to comment on part of this previous comment:
2. . Classical has passed the test of time. Not because the composers wrote what the public wanted to hear, or they made a lot of money (most of them were just poor). Only because they wrote from their hearts and souls and renewed the music while progressing through the century.<<<
a lot of earlier "classical" music was functional -particularly in a religious context and the church was a frequent ( if not major ) employer of the composer. Later on, the "employers" became the royalty commissioning music sometimes for celebratory uses and /or background for various court or upper class "amusements" thereby putting the composers in the same relation to their employers as those in the contemporary world who write commisioned music for corporate use -advertising, PR, and or educational functions.
OTOH, "jazz" was not created through this path coming as it did from an amalgam of many disparate influences : the black church, african pentatonic and rhythmic factors, brass band music , European harmonic practices, etc. jazz came about basically as a vehicle for lower /middle class social functions...funerals and dances among them. Where "jazz" lost some of its appeal IMO, is when the bebop explorers obscured the obvious dance pulse and the more harmonically sophisticated harmonies employed served to turn a portion of the audience away. ( The seemingly anti-social "cool" attitude of introverted players didn't help either ) These missing social elements were replaced by the more obvious dance pulse provided by the medium of Rock n' Roll and Rhythm and Blues along with rep- engaging the audience in an entertaining way.
Jazz isn't dead, but it needs to re-incorporate some of these qualities ( as evidenced by the success of groups like the Brecker Brothers, and artists like Stevie Wonder )
this does not change the fact classical music had patrons with money who financed it, and the composers composed their music, on order or not, still a lot of their work was not directly appreciated. but the test of time proved their "classical status". I claim this is the only test. even if their patrons used it at the times as amusement or PR for their wealth and might. the music survived for hundreds of years and that's what counts.
regarding jazz you forgot mentioning the Kleyzmer roots (see researches about it actually black music and "Jewish" music are the two most significant sources of Jazz). I am talking about approx 1920. Anti Social music? it had a social function (in sad or happy events). I think the original appeal of Jazz should be found, not by surrendering to popular demand, but rather by going back to basics. or at least remember and honouring the basics. all kinds of jazz have their place. the test of time will prove if they develop in a way they survive the test of time. entertaining the crowds one day could turn into (as history shows us) into non-appealing to crowds. this is why it shouldn't be the lacmus test. only time. and patrons of music that support musicians will help.
Youth and idealism. The truth is, technology has been a creative blessing and economic curse on art. It isn't just jazz, it's all art. The more niche your art is, the smaller share you get out of the very little pie that exists now.
My point? Don't blame the art! Blame the technology. The companies with the technology to deliver an endless supply of art to you are the ones getting the money that people used to spend on art.
Until the gov't forces people to pay compensation to artists for all this access to art, don't expect things to change for the better. I don't spend money for art, because I have access to more than I can handle already, and the technology to deliver it is only getting better.
Let's take a trip down memory lane here. I agree 100% technology is a blessing but up until today the ones with the "power" i.e. the record label have failed to adjust themselves to the new world. they are dying. it will not surprise me if in ten years they will disappear. the record label model has failed to adjust, this is why artists are not getting paid for their work and finding other ways, much more independent ones, bypassing the established labels, and creating new paths to reach their crowd. it still not a water tight solution. it's still taking shape. but i believe in technology. it will get there. and artists will have the solution to be properly compensated for their work USING technology. please don't blame technology. use it or loose it.
Jane Ira Bloom
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