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The Many Faces of Jazz Today: The Big Picture

Victor L. Schermer By

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Second, we need to periodically go hear jazz that is unfamiliar to us: it might be a young player we never heard of, an older one who slipped by the cracks of fame, an avant-garde player, a big band performing the music of, say, Tadd Dameron, a singer who pushes the limits of improvising like JD Walter, a jazz opera like Daniel Schnyder's Yardbird Suite. Going for the unusual or neglected jazz experience stretches your own appreciation and encourages innovation while compensating for the "star system" which feeds the already well-fed high visibility musicians.

Third, we should encourage interest in jazz among young people. We could go back to the wonderful family experiences of listening to music together in the home! (Who does that anymore?) School teachers can play jazz to illustrate creativity, history, emotional intelligence, modern culture. Jazz musicians should donate time playing in the public schools. Those with sufficient space in their homes can host jazz events. In other words, we must bring jazz back into our daily lives where new generations will hear it and come to love it.

Fourth, we ought to become politically active in advocating for policies, funding, and community activities that support jazz and the performing arts in general. We should support Internet protections for the royalty rights of the musicians. We can elect politicians who love jazz (Mayors Ed Rendell and Michael Nutter are fans who made a positive difference in jazz in Philadelphia. Several presidents, most recently Barack Obama, hosted jazz events at the White House).

Fifth, we can use All About Jazz and the Internet to network and communicate about the music. Don't just read and browse. Tell your Facebook friends about jazz you love. Use the comments section of articles to respond with your own thoughts. Jazz thrives when audiences are active, involved, committed.

Finally, we should just live to the fullest and lovingly in the here-and-now. By enriching our lives with experiences which involve our whole selves, we play a role in creating the kind of world in which jazz is at home: a world where we are all connected in the depths of our humanity. Seize every opportunity to get in touch with your spiritual center, connect soulfully with another human being, and open up emotionally. You will then radiate these aspects of yourself in all your interactions and conversations, and in this way the people around you will awaken. And jazz appeals most to people who are awake and alive. Jazz has a great future if we all work together to make it so.

Photo: Nice Jazz Festival, 2014

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