HEY BLOGCATS! I’m back! Wow…so one thing I’ve learned is that if you are going to have a blog, you need to actually write stuff. One seems to justify the other as it were (and to wit)

True, and ironically enough, the thing that has kept me from blogging (blogifying? bloggery? bloggeting? Spewing forth in a bloggatious manner? …feel free to use any of these, they are all gems) is the fact that I have been spending mucho time establishing our One O’Clock online newsletter: The Denton Messenger. A groovy thing it is too, but taken time away from the blogosphere it has (to be said in the voice of Yoda for maximum effect). Thus leading me to the subject of this return-to-the-living installment of the Blog Shed: “Seeing is believing” or: what I’ve learned so far in the 21st Century.

Yes…I have been working out.

What I have learned so far in this era of technological wonders is that to truly nurture and reach a new audience for jazz, while at the same time staying connected with your established base of alumni and fans, you need a multiple-redundant full-media approach. (as an aside…and you KNOW I love me some parenthetical asides…the 21st Century is missing many of the things I was planning on: hand-held ray guns, transporters, a thriving space agency, and flying cars to mention just a few. (Although living in Texas I can understand why giving our drivers the option to take to the air is not such a good idea…just sayin’…)

The “full media approach now means SO much more than it did when I was a kid. Back then it meant: print media, TV, AND radio. Of course now in the era of Flash Gordon, it includes all manner of digital wizardry that even the most cantankerous members of the 20th Century have taken to.  In fact, these days the majority of young students that I speak to put it like this: “Hey man, I’ve been watching the One O’Clock lately. I especially like (fill in the blank) composed by (whoever)…and how ‘bout that trumpet solo at 2:45.” To which I initially responded to thusly: “Ruh?” (using the classic surprised-yet-curiously-quizzical voice of Scooby Doo). Then I figured out what they meant: the average student today watches music more than he or she listens to music. If your music doesn’t come in some kind of visual format, you are missing out on one of the most organic forms of advertising available so far in this young century: YouTube. In fact, there is even a trend to put audio on YouTube with a slide show, or just album art. (I think the latter constitutes some kind of time-space dichotomy, but I’m not sure)

A good friend of mine is a voice crying out in the wilderness on this very subject: Bret Primack, AKA “The Jazz Video Guy” Bret came to UNT recently and filmed a dazzling series of promotional videos for us (I highly recommend that you try to acquire his services in this area) and was also the happy subject of a previous thread (woo hoo! Look at me cross-referencin’ an’ what-not) He also wrote an installment of the Denton Messenger op-ed column “The Outer Shed” for us. In short, Bret understands the power and nature of 21st Century jazz activism via YouTube and is making it happen in a BIG way. But what can we other jazz folk do? Well here is what the One O’Clock is doing:

  1. In 2007 Neil Slater and Craig Marshall inaugurated a series of videos about the studio process itself, interviews with band members, and a selection of full studio performance videos.
  2. In 2011, we expanded this concept to include an entire DVD of all the pieces from the studio that year in performance format.
  3. Each year since 2009, we have made a compilation video of our studio efforts to promote the CD and to campaign for Grammy recognition.
  4. Most of the above is now available on both our website and our YouTube channel.
  5. Via the YouTube channel, all of these videos are also accessible on our phone app (which is available on iPhone and Android platforms…HEY! at least the word Android is in common use at this time in the 21st Century, thus partially fulfilling my hope for robots at this point…wow: that was a parenthetical aside mentioned within a parenthetical aside…doubleparanthetical? Superparanthetical? English majors…chime in at this point…)

AND: Lab 2012 will be our first foray into a true music video. We are calling it “Miles of Shades” (a jazz fantasia) The concept was suggested by the indubitable-yet-highly-mercurial UNT Distinguished Alum Bob Belden. A master of modern multi-media, Bob suggested that we take a piece of music and animate it in a similar manner as cutting-edge groups Brain Killer and The Mantra ATSMM. (And with a names like that you KNOW it must be cool.) Along with this wonderful concept, I was also inspired by Darcy James Argue’s recent exciting entry into the world of jazz animation: Brooklyn Babylon. Between these great examples, and the films Fantasia and Fantasia II I came up with the idea of incorporating one of our super-talented UNT student visual artists (in this case Peter Rand) and a team of our own One O’Clock composers (Jenny Kellogg, Aaron Hedenstrom, and Tyler Mire) in just such a project. Under the mentorship of our professor of jazz composition Richard DeRosa, and professor of visual art Jenny Vogel, these students have been putting together a wonderful effort that is very exciting indeed. The imagery is stunning and the music consists of three 2-minute movements, one by each composer. I think you will be amazed at the results, and yes: it will give us yet ANOTHER way to hook into the visual-digital realm where today’s new audience for jazz lives (not to mention yet another category to enter in the Grammys!).

Here are some screen shots from “Miles of Shades”

What else? Well the possibilities seem to be truly endless. Recently, we inaugurated our first live stream concert on March 8th with the great John Clayton. I wanted to wait until we were sure we had the sound right before jumping into this arena. We ARE talking about music here after all. Through the team of UNT Recording Services and our own Chad Willis, we were able to initiate a state-of-the-art internet broadcast that gives me all KINDS of ideas! How about a monthly broadcast from Kenton Hall? Outreach concerts, composition forums, interactive classroom concerts…all brought right into schools of all types all over the country…all over the world….into the deepest reaches of the universe! Well, you see what I mean.

So, as we used to say in the last century “stay tuned”…and as we still say here at North Texas: “the best is yet to come!

PS: Of course (and to-wit) the most effective way to turn on and tune-in a new jazz audience is for the uninitiated to hear this music LIVE-and-In-PERSON. It is also the preferred method of enjoyment for most if not all jazz vets. Therefore (I’ve used up my monthly allotment of “to-wit” just sayin’…D’OH just used up “just sayin’! D’OH…oops just, ok, ok, enough) the One O’Clock Lab Band will continue to play as many gigs all around DFW and the world as university classes will allow. Watch for us soon at a hip venue near YOU!

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About swiest2

Steve Wiest is a Trombonist-Composer-Cartoonist-Author and Coordinator of The 21st Century Music Initiative at The Lamont School of Music: The University of Denver

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