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  1. #26
    Hey this is very important. If these sort topics weren't brought up then this place would just be theory and gear nerds. Theory and gear can only keep you preoccupied so long before boredom kicks in thus Why isn't jazz more popular? And many other of my threads are created. They are important because it is important that remain occupied and more importantly not bored...important

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #27

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    OK being a bit more serious. Jazz has been unpopular for most of my life, so I guess it just seems fairly normal to me. I do think of it as a kind of genre like Cajun or folk music which has its own following outside the popular mainstream.

    I think there are ways for performers to reach out a bit to the audience, e.g. be professional, communicate with the audience, don't spend 5 minutes discussing which tune to play next. But I would say that having seen loads of 'big jazz names' over the last 30 years, most of them were very professional in these ways, they knew their trade.

    Some guys at work who play rock guitar have seen my YouTube videos and are vaguely interested in how I play jazz. But the actual music doesn't seem to interest them at all. I think it just sounds like a bunch of complicated notes to them. They just don't have the musical curiosity to explore something different to the same old rock solos, which I had when I was in my 20s. (These guys are in their 30s and 40s). I really don't know how you get people like that interested.

    By the way, Dexter Gordon was asked this very question in a film or documentary and his response was just to say: 'Art form'.

  4. #28

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    What about Metheny?

  5. #29

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    I think everything is quite unpopular at the moment - it's all niches...

    I rarely get the outright hostility to jazz I did 15 years ago or so. People seem pretty open to music in general.... But the 'j' word is a problem. I lot of people see it as synonymous with pretentiousness, snottiness and an uninviting attitude to the uninitiated. With good reason too - jazz clubs can be like this.

    Also you go to a jazz club, you don't know what you are getting. Could be trad, squeaky bonk (to borrow Jim Mullen's term) or anything between.

  6. #30

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    I see you're across the pond. Here in the states live local music just isn't popular with a few exceptions- NYC and LA among them. Jazz is always preaching to the choir saying it's not popular. Nothing is popular in clubs.
    Last thing I did was blues but that was 17 years ago. IDK what's up with that now.
    You're right. It's all niches' now.

  7. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by nick1994
    you know, I think it's odd that we always talk about why jazz isn't more popular but never ask the question does it need to be? to me, some of the best music and best players have come after the golden age of jazz.

    because there are more players than gigs, it lifts bar even higher. now instead of having one or 2 great players in your area you have 20, making you work harder to market yourself or play better or whatever.
    Artistically there is some truth to that, but it has to be popular enough for musicians to make a decent living with dignity. What's it cost to live even halfway decently in New York (rent, food, health insurance, income tax, transportation, clothing, musical equipment, etc.)- say $150 a day? And that's pretty much just getting by- no retirement savings, no equity being built. Gigs that pay $50 are not going to do it. Gigs would need to pay a minimum of $200 per musician to make it work. My understanding of the New York scene is that most gigs pay scraps (never been there, probably never will, all 2nd hand and maybe- even hopefully- wrong).

    A certain degree of popularity is necessary from the perspective of economics. Unless you want an army of part time professional jazz musicians working day jobs and being distracted from their art.

  8. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    Jazz isn't popular because....people don't like it. Same reason turnip flavored candy ain't popular. Musically, we live in a culture where in 2016, Justin Bieber has 3, three, 1+1+1, did I mention 3.... songs in the Billboard top 10 at this very moment....and we wonder why jazz isn't popular? Thank goodness for the Weeknd...

    Surely it has something to do with:

    1) What a person was raised listening to.

    2) What the music represented to them (e.g. Metal music for rebelling against those horrible parents, Blues that may remind someone of that wonderful Grandma who raised them and who used to play it all the time).

    3) What group they are attracted to; it seems many groups have their own music to help define them (Young gangsters listened to Gangsta Rap, Club folks listened to dance music, Drug users liked acid rock, etc..)

    4) What the music/entertainment industry ram down our throats over and over to brainwash us.

    5) What music their "heroes" listen to

  9. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    Artistically there is some truth to that, but it has to be popular enough for musicians to make a decent living with dignity. What's it cost to live even halfway decently in New York (rent, food, health insurance, income tax, transportation, clothing, musical equipment, etc.)- say $150 a day? And that's pretty much just getting by- no retirement savings, no equity being built. Gigs that pay $50 are not going to do it. Gigs would need to pay a minimum of $200 per musician to make it work. My understanding of the New York scene is that most gigs pay scraps (never been there, probably never will, all 2nd hand and maybe- even hopefully- wrong).

    A certain degree of popularity is necessary from the perspective of economics. Unless you want an army of part time professional jazz musicians working day jobs and being distracted from their art.
    What is considered a gig these days? IDK. For me it was always about 4 hours. Sometimes a little less. Overseas it was 8 hours a night, 6 days a week.
    The horror. The gig was the easy part. After the gig was when the real work stated. Glad that circuit is long gone.
    I think the era of the club musician is over. An army of part time jazz/club musicians is a reality. What's fair pay for a 3-4 hour gig? Clubs are more than happy to let musicians set up their business in clubs.

  10. #34

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    What I find ironic is that jazzers complain that jazz isn't as popular as it should be, but then refuse to consider music real jazz if it garners mass appeal. Jazz of the swing and dance era is no less jazzy or artful than the newer bop or post-bop tunes. In fact, I would argue that artists like Benny Goodman and Count Basie are as good or better than anyone before or since. Not only did they make music that was complex, but people wanted to listen to it. In my opinion almost any good musician can make complex music, but if nobody wants to listen to it how good is that music really? its nice to push the envelope and come up with new musical ideas that haven't been tried before, but just because something is new and edgy does not mean it is good. I'm 52, and for my entire life musicians have been snobs, particularly jazz musicians. They complain that mainstream music has no heart or soul and is musically inferior, but then complain when their "art" is not widely appreciated. Jazz, or any other genre, does not need to be narrowly defined to satisfy one's ego. I like swing and bebop, and a little from other forms, but I am not saying that what I don't like is any less jazzy. Honestly, it doesn't matter to me what one calls jazz, rock, R&B, or whatever. If people love music enough to make what they like then jazz and all other forms will be just fine. I actually find jazz becoming more popular, not less, but either way I don't worry about what others like as everyone is entitled to listen to whatever they choose. It's all good!

  11. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    Artistically there is some truth to that, but it has to be popular enough for musicians to make a decent living with dignity. What's it cost to live even halfway decently in New York (rent, food, health insurance, income tax, transportation, clothing, musical equipment, etc.)- say $150 a day? And that's pretty much just getting by- no retirement savings, no equity being built. Gigs that pay $50 are not going to do it. Gigs would need to pay a minimum of $200 per musician to make it work. My understanding of the New York scene is that most gigs pay scraps (never been there, probably never will, all 2nd hand and maybe- even hopefully- wrong).

    A certain degree of popularity is necessary from the perspective of economics. Unless you want an army of part time professional jazz musicians working day jobs and being distracted from their art.
    you raise a good point, it is rare (where I am) to find a local player that just gigs and makes enough money off of that. most of them teach whether it's lessons, secondary or primary school classes or tertiary classes. but that's not jazz musicians specifically that's most musicians(so that could bring up why isn't music more popular?)

    and even if you did try to get enough gigs to pay the bills, you'd have to spend the remainder of your time either trying to market yourself so that people actually buy your cds and come to your gigs or figure out why no one buy your cds and come to your gig. really after that I don't think that leaves a lot of time for practicing and composing.

  12. #36

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    I haven't read the entire thread but this is particularly germane to me right now. Jazz will probably never be as popular as it was in the 30s-40s again. But I find it so frustrating when people don't let something grow without trying to stifle and suppress and impose their old standards to something. THAT's why it's not popular.

    Jazz is amazing. I consider everything I do to be jazz. But jazz is not the 40s, 50s or the 1960s any longer. Any art has to speak to its OWN AGE. Clifford Brown was amazing but he died in 1956, the year I was born.

    I think if we create music that speaks to now it can live healthy. And that doesn't mean try and contrive something that sounds contemporary. I think it just means not forcing it to comply with the jazz police.

    For ME the challenge has been to be true to myself. And THAT MEANS not confirm simply because there's pressure to. Peers, public, jazz radio, publications all might want you to remain where you are or where it has been decided by some invisible counsel that it must conform.

    On my new CD, sorry if this sounds like advertising, but this is what I did. It's what I've always done. And I've reached people who never thought they liked jazz. I've also been one of the only artists at Jazz Connect in NYC last week every single radio programmer said they add to their regular playlist. These are straight ahead stations.

    And is it important? Yes. For the artists to continue jazz needs to viable. This means those who love it need to do their part. They need to PURCHASE the music. They need to go out and see the music they like whenever those artists come to town. Streaming and free downloads does not put money in the pockets of those poor musicians. They can't live off love alone.
    Last edited by henryrobinett; 01-31-2016 at 11:56 PM.

  13. #37

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    Many Jazz Guys are talented and funky enough that they could just do a 5 minute Modal Funk Jam over 1 chord and get a great Groove and Solo over it inside and outside...that I might really like .

    But to give the Audience more ..some structures would be necessary to avoid monotony and ear fatigue etc to do a whole set.

    Gotta mix it up with Structure even if you're Hendrix or Coltrane to give the Audience more.....IMO

  14. #38

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    I began to develop a perception, since the late 80's, that there was an ongoing and very deliberate manipulation of the music industry, resulting in a dumming down of what's considered "musical" - packaged and sold in large part due to Corporate interests and greed.

    And Re: Dexter Gordon - He was far more than just a bebopper. Off the top of my head I can't think of another whose musical ideas just flow together and tell a story like Dex did. His ballad improvisation was like no other.

    It's not on youtube, but I've a 3 CD set of Dexter's complete 'nights at the keystone' from the bay area in the mid 70's, where in each 15 to 20 minute recording Dex' solo's go on forever, weaving lines in and out, with the grandest connectivity of one idea to the next. I've never known a more "musical" player than Dex.

    Coolest cat I never met!



    Last edited by 2bornot2bop; 01-31-2016 at 09:27 PM.

  15. #39

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    This is some classic squeaky bonk:


  16. #40

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    Btw., some impressions from attending a local jazz jam session last week...

    There was a house band playing before they started the session, and the cats were great musicians, I mean NYC standard great. The audience wasn't big, but there were a few couples enjoying their drink, some people who were curious and came to hear the music (the place is a dedicated jazz club), and of course a bunch of us, musicians who came to jam.

    The tunes those guy have chosen to play though, I'd say didn't make for a case for jazz to become popular any time soon. I think the last drop was 'One Finger Snap', a tune I've never heard before, (and was surprised somebody included as a standard!? ), that lasted about 20 min, with everybody taking solos forever , and, oh yeah, that was a trio!

    By the end of it their mission(apparently) was completed- the 'squares' have left the room, and there was no one but us, the musicians!! Yey, great job.

    Take it for whatever it worth, I'm just telling a story, that may, or may not have something to add to the discussion.
    Last edited by Hep To The Jive; 01-31-2016 at 09:44 PM.

  17. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    This is some classic squeaky bonk:

    Yikes....
    Missing most of the things that make Jazz and Jazz Musicians Good to Excellent to Great...
    I didn't listen for more than 1 minute...though.

  18. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robertkoa
    Yikes....
    Missing most of the things that make Jazz and Jazz Musicians Good to Excellent to Great...
    I didn't listen for more than 1 minute...though.
    Ha! I actually think Derek Bailey would agree with your appraisal. He deliberately chose to remove the jazz elements from his playing.

    (Personally I do not believe he was successful in this, but as always YYMV.)

    'Improvisation lives under jazz sufferance; most of its visibility comes if a jazz club thinks to throw it in. But I’m one of those people who feel they don’t have any legitimate connection to jazz. I’ve played it in the past, but jazz to me was always something I was looking to get out of. I recognized discomfort there.'

    It may be worth bearing in mind that Bailey spent much of his early career playing rhythm guitar in dance bands. I think that would push you over the edge, as I can attest from personal experience.

    (I suppose the free music scene is somewhat separate from the jazz scene, but not completely so.)

    And yet, Bailey was often called a 'jazz guitarist' the label is remarkably hard to lose.
    Last edited by christianm77; 02-01-2016 at 09:16 PM.

  19. #43

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    I know a few hundred musicians, two that have been nominated for Grammys and tour the world and live the dream so to speak. All of the jazz musicians I know teach or have some type of day job, or a spouse/partner with a day job, except the bassists, they just gig. I know artists that have recoded original music at the highest Hollywood level, songs placed in films,tv and video games. Same artist has a spouse with a fat day gig otherwise she would be pretty broke. I know as a genre jazz is the low seller, and the live jazz scene in many places is pretty dismal. There are more people alive right now than at any other time in the history of the world. That's a lot of people. I think there is a big audience for adventurous music with a danceable beat, Medeski Martin and Wood come to mind. What is needed to make jazz more popular is what Gregory Porter is doing. The early jazz from New Orleans sounds more arrangement driven more group oriented and a more communal experience (Dancing) than what jazz has evolved into. I think the general public has lost most of its appetite for "virtuoso" soloing, and is hungry for a song, that they can relate to. Hoagy Charmichael songs still work best when trying to win an audience and play music of substance. Jazz may be too real, to be popular, it is a little like cycling in that the experience of the participant far outweighs that of the fan on the roadside. Just keep playing no matter what. It's okay that I have a teaching gig, how else are the kids going to learn? Certainly not from CNN.

  20. #44

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    Yes eddy b I do too. But this is a new phenomenon. It didn't used to be that way. And I'm pretty certain that just about every Grammy nominee or winner would prefer to not have to teach to make ends meet.

    I love teaching. I do it for a living in colleges and prisons. But I'd prefer to be able to make more money from playing and sales of CDs.

  21. #45

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    At this point I think good dance music is the only thing that will liven up things and that's good for jazz. It probably won't happen.
    Right now I feel like going into the business of kidnapping DJ's and giving them a new job description.
    Here, here's a set list now give me some damn drum tracks you greedy %$#@.

  22. #46

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    The irony is that although jazz is not popular with the "public", jazz guitar is increasingly popular with amateur guitarists - ie guitarists who play just for the love of it, not as a job (good choice really, as jazz was rarely a money-maker).

    A lot of the bedroom players on youtube really are fantastic players - "Blues in the Closet" maybe ;-)

    And there are so many great playing cheap archtops around these days.

  23. #47

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    Was jazz ever as popular as we like to think it was?

    The period from the early 50s to early 60s produced some iconic music that has set the standard for what jazzers consider "jazz". But gigs were limited to a handful of clubs in a handful of cities in the bad part of town (filled with beat poets and other undesirables). This golden age of Trane, Miles, Wes ended when the Beatles and Bob Dylan showed the world new styles of music, their era also lasted less than 10 years. Then Creed Taylor made jazz 'cosmopolitan' and 'commercial', and we all know how jazzers feel about all those strings mucking up our music.

    I got into jazz in the mid-70's when I joined the high school jazz band, we played some jazz festivals (got to travel* and even opened for Buddy Rich) but there wasn't a lot of live jazz to be heard outside of a couple clubs at the beach cities. While in college I took summer classes at Dick Grove School of Music where I was astonished by how little knowledge, experience or exposure to jazz the students had. The scene at MI wasn't any better for jazz. I checked out Donte's and the Baked Potato expecting to hear jazzers blowin', I found studio cats trying to play fusion.

    When I was younger I expected jazz to become more popular as information and communication flowed more freely, the internet would be the savior of jazz. The early days of MP3.com* were encouraging; MP3.com let musicians sell direct to their audience, you didn't need a local market - the market became global. To my dismay we've had 15 years Bieber, boy bands and 10 flavors of pop tarts (Miley, Britney, Ke$ha, etc).

    But maybe I'm wrong, this place is pretty cool. Jazzers from all over the world congregate to share their love of the genre. Maybe there is a future for jazz, maybe the shake up of the music industry will bring back music as a cottage industry, maybe someone will get downloading for pay right (again). Maybe the global market will save jazz and make it possible to make a living playing jazz.

    The only constant is change, maybe change will bring us good fortune or maybe jazzers will need to learn to twerk to get the big audiences

    Footnotes:

    1. One of the jazz festivals we traveled to was the "International Music Festival" in Hawaii, scholarships for the top 5 musicians. Out of 5,000 students I tied with an oboist for the 5th scholarship, then the judges ruled "jazz guitar is not a legitimate instrument" and I was out! Jazz never did get respect!!!

    2. MP3.com was viewed as competition and was bought & killed by the record companies, now look at what downloading had done to the record companies. Karma baby!
    Last edited by MaxTwang; 02-02-2016 at 09:19 PM.

  24. #48

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    there's a huge appeal to improvised music

    but it has to harness the appeal of humm-able tunes

    when i play (mainstream jazz) i'm constantly aware that i'm not doing a good enough job of keeping the tune going in the ear of the audience

    of course you could treat the need to keep the audience with you as something that compromises your artistic creativity - but i think this is a big mistake (an artistic mistake).

    bill evans played the songbook - and relied on people already knowing the tunes (e.g. come rain or come shine on portrait in jazz is v. hard to hear unless you already know it well). every tune he plays sounds fresh despite the fact that he plays almost all the 'normal' notes.

    that's a serious artistic achievement - not just good public relations

    (but bill evans is one of those people in jazz that is a true genius - in the top 10 surely - AND NOONE OUTSIDE THE MUSIC KNOWS HIM AT ALL)

  25. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by eddy b.
    That's a lot of people. I think there is a big audience for adventurous music with a danceable beat... What is needed to make jazz more popular is what Gregory Porter is doing. The early jazz from New Orleans sounds more arrangement driven more group oriented and a more communal experience (Dancing) than what jazz has evolved into. I think the general public has lost most of its appetite for "virtuoso" soloing, and is hungry for a song, that they can relate to. Hoagy Charmichael songs still work best when trying to win an audience and play music of substance. Jazz may be too real, to be popular, it is a little like cycling in that the experience of the participant far outweighs that of the fan on the roadside.

    I just saw a TV broadcast of The Who's 50th anniversary concert from Hyde Park in London...big outdoor venue. I think Entwistle, the original bassist has passed on, as has the original drummer.

    Their replacements are excellent musicians. I don't even like much rock n'roll, but man that band was bringing it....

    Very rhythmic, but changing groove...Townsend's rhythm guitar is really rhythmic accents....the bassist plays like a jazz bassist...the drummer is a little more straightforward, rock n'roll'y...but when you put the three of them together they really provided a propulsive, but not overwhelming, and not monotonous beat. Throw in some much better than average rock pop songwriting, harmonized vocals, and the total effect was almost big band like...(they also had a keyboard player who was doing backup vocals, and an extra guitarist in addition to Townsend and the main vocalist, so the total complement was a bigger, and more interesting sound than the original Who lineup). They had a big crowd there eating it up just like Duke's band when they played Newport in what was it...1956.

    BTW, Townsend's father was a sax player.

    IN contrast to this, I find a lot of younger jazz musicians to be stiff, not swinging, and playing nothing that is memorable or hummable...or even fun to listen to.

    For the record, I also don't find the seemingly endless preoccupation with theoretically-based improvisation techniques or technical tricks to be useful, or helpful, in itself...in generating music that people want to listen to, e.g. "let's explore cell generation, soloing... based on the nth mode of this particular scale"....it is just beside the point--and not the point itself.

    Maybe this kind of theory stuff gives people material to write about in academically-based jazz studies programs, and maybe it gives instructors stuff to sell to people who might buy instructional materials, but there is a real danger in thinking that this type of theoretical, almost a priori approach to music, is what is valuable.

    When you come right down to it, Charlie Parker and Dizzy and everyone else, made their "theory" their servants, and not their masters...it helped them play longer, more fluid, more adventurous and more interesting solos.

    Maybe jazz music will become like ragtime, a historical curiosity....maybe it just is a historical anomaly and the stuff that I really like...bebop, hard bop, cool, big band and some fusion requires people to have come out of a musical setting where people knew how to swing.

    In poor parts of Appalachia in the 1960's, it was observed that the advent of electricity and some "modern" advances, had left that isolated population even less well off than they had been before, as they lost the collective memory of certain survival skills that were needed in the previous two hundred years....maybe jazz music will suffer a similar decline.

    I'm being a little polemical here, but not fanciful. OK, now I will duck.

  26. #50

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    A couple of years back, I wrote a paper about the endless musty "Jazz Is Dead" debate.
    I thought I'd share it here because other interested jazzers may find it germaine to this "popularity" discussion.

    There is also an accompanying illustrative play-list of tracks that I hope those interested can successfully download.
    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/rki2ar3tq...QUhBMkHla?dl=0

    Core point, I guess, is about relevance.
    In the U.S. jazz seems to have lost relevance, whereas in Europe the tradition continues as relevant.

    Also, this:
    10 of the best jazz clubs in Europe | Travel | The Guardian