Sunday, January 24, 2010


A summary of a conversation I had on Twitter today:

@pdfreeman Jazz proselytizers need to stop saying “you need to listen to jazz” and start saying “you need to listen to [specific album].” Rock fans can say “I like Elvis” or “I like Metallica.” Jazzheads shouldn’t feel pressured to rep the whole genre. I love many different kinds of jazz but wouldn’t listen to most jazz vocal albums, or a Miles Davis/Bill Evans disc, on a dare. Albert Ayler for noise kidz. Ella Fitzgerald for folks who like VH1 girl-with-piano stuff. Mahavishnu Orchestra for metalheads.

@garrettshelton i'd add the first album suggested shouldn't be Kind of Blue. It has ZERO to do what's going on today

@pdfreeman Neither do the Beatles, but they still sell.

@garrettshelton not about sales but about the relationship. i hear more influence on rock over the last decade by the beatles, than KoB in jazz.

@epicharmus For some new listeners, though, there's more appeal in saying "I'm listening to jazz" than "I'm listening to [specific album]." Another way of putting it: some newbies come to jazz because of its "cool" rather than a visceral response the music qua music gives. Liking music for its "coolness" may seem stupid (tho I'm not totally down on cool), but it can be a gateway to appreciating other qualities.

@garrettshelton rock fans can say they like modern groups, without referencing legacy acts or dead artists - and not be looked down upon too

@pdfreeman At some point historical ignorance will earn ridicule, but yeah, w/rock you can come in just about anywhere. Folks can, and do, come to jazz cold - I sure did; started w/"KoB" but heard "On the Corner" weeks later & liked it better.

@pdfreeman How much do jazz artists hurt themselves by explicitly referencing history - releasing "[New Guy] Plays [Dead Guy]" CDs all the damn time? No rock artist could expect to be taken seriously releasing a covers album as their debut. "Standards" = Sha Na Na.

@Cave17Matt Never hurt anyone's sales! Most people are scared of "jazz," need a familiar entry point. Like the oldies. Come on - Sha Na Na wasn't trying to put their own spin on anything.

@epicharmus I'm not sure most jazz newcomers know the originals well enough to be tempted!

@Cave17Matt New jazz artists have no percentage in selling to jazz newcomers though. Sadly their audience is well-educated middleagers.

@pdfreeman Young jazz players should hit the road, open for indie-rock bands or play the jam band circuit. Leave jazz clubs to geezers. Jazz festivals give all the big money to veteran headliners anyway - new players'd better off aggressively chasing new fans. Biggest obstacle: jazz-player mindset/temperament - upscale, educated & probably resistant to punk-rock squalor in service of art. "I didn't go to Juilliard so I could sleep in a beer-puddle on the floor of some basement!"

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