DON’T WORRY! This is NOT a political post!! (whew…that was close) The One O’Clock is a HUGE tent and absolutely everyone who can groove like a monster is welcome. There is not a DROP of politics in the House of Swing.

…But wouldn’t it be cool if the debates (’tis the season) were between Gil and Diz (yeah, they would need to be alive, but hey…dream with me…) and the debate itself were about what type of jazz would be the law of the land: trad? swing? bebop? cool? hard bop? free? post-bop? fusion? neo? ALL OF THE ABOVE? And of course…it would be a win-win for everyone (not to mention a well mannered and highly creative-intellectual debate…WATCH OUT…almost political! back to the music…)

Why isn’t this possible? Why is such a sentiment instantly funny? (because Gil and Diz have passed on….ok, ok…move beyond that!) As I walk about the hallowed halls of groove here in Jazz Paradise, everything seems just fine: young brilliant students studying the music of Thad Jones, John Coltrane, et al, small groups playing new original music that is swinging like crazy and firmly rooted in the grand tradition …and on-and-on it goes. All is well, correct? Well…

Many of our best-and-brightest graduate only to leap into a world that has no idea jazz EXISTS! Let alone like or dislike it…they haven’t even HEARD it! I’ve mentioned before that we are in high Dickensian mode here: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” The best of times: there are more gifted and highly prepared-educated young students of jazz around than ever before. The worst of times: nobody seems to care. What to do? How do we change this?

A paradigm shift is very, very difficult (Man! I sound like I know what I’m talkin’ about). Perhaps that train has left the station. the music biz in general is reeling and trying to figure itself out…what chance does li’l ol’ small-percent-of-a-small-percent (jazz) have? Well, we have  a GREAT chance. It is called education. Dig:

Every single time that I speak with an audience after a One O’Clock concert I meet someone who says something like: “I didn’t even know I liked this music! This is GREAT!”

Step One: Get the music to the people.

The media, our various cultures, technology…none of it will do it without your direct involvement. Get your band swingin’ and give a concert, go on a tour, play for the public…anywhere anytime…get the music out there! Real, live, or virtual…once people see-hear jazz they are HOOKED. It is simply America’s classical music and gift to the entire world. …there is even a Congressional Resolution that says so. Check it out:

HR-57 Read it HERE!

Yep. They did that!

Step two: Get your talking points together

People usually have these two misconceptions about our music:

a. “You can’t make a living playing that! You need something to fall back on.”

b. “You are wasting your time learning to improvise. Get into something more practical”

Alas! Au contraire!!  TO WIT and yay…behold!!!!! That dawg just don’t hunt!!!!!! (nostalgic statement, no?)

Dig these two extremely helpful tools that will fill you with happy, positive vibes when having a conversation with the above concerned adult:

1. The 2009 TMEA Keynote Address by Dan Pink

OoohWEE! this is a great one. Dig, the Conceptual Age:

Click Here and Dig!

2. Beyond the Music by David Liebman

This is a masterful short treatise on what a jazz education does to and for a person (and the world!). From the great saxophone master and educator extraordinaire Dave Liebman

CLICK on this link for Beyond the Music by Dave Liebman

So, there you have it Oh Heroes of the Blogosphere. Some very cool materials to help you fight the good fight. Or, in a more positive less political dressing: spread the good word! And if you need some music as an example? Hmmm…let’s see….I got it!

Click HERE.

Keep Swingin’!

(Just added this. The word count was at 666…had to add more words…just sayin’)


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

2 responses »

  1. You make a great point here Steve. I’m still nervous though.
    Carry on.

    • swiest2 says:

      Yikes! Poor Smigley, playin’ his heart out. Well, perhaps his choice of venue could have been better. Something that offers people the choice of whether or not to attend via some wicked-slick enticing advertising. Just sayin’…

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