Thursday, October 3, 2013

Jazz State of The Union 2013 / An Industry In Trouble.

It's 4 a.m., Do you know where your jazz critic is?

While early October may seem a bit early in publishing any sort of year end "State of the Union" piece, thanks to a myriad of health related issues and the desire to close up shop for this year on November 25th there is that ever present deadline hanging over my head.

The state of improvisational music from purely a creative standpoint has never been better. The state of what we have come to know as the business of jazz here in the United States has never been worse. The business of jazz feeds off itself, it eats it's young. Jazz radio is dead. Internet jazz radio has taken over and may be only slightly better with the number one issue here being the dance of the living dead. Random Act artist Tony Adamo brought up the overlooked issue of jazz radio play lists being mired in the past and he is far more correct than anyone has the integrity to admit - except me. John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington are gone, they aren't coming back. When the average play list contains up to 75% artists that have long since played their last note then something is terribly wrong. Another 10-15% would include artists such as Robert Glasper who has long since crossed over to Urban radio. The average young talent has little chance of getting a record heard unless he or she can come up with the 10-15 large needed to fund the project.

Genre on steroids has taken over the world of improvisational music. Chamber Jazz, Third Stream, and New American Music are all legitimate sub genres yet are all names for the same kind of music that has been quietly and consistently coming out of Europe for twenty five years. Smooth jazz is as old and tired and the forty something crowd that clings to it in a desperate attempt to stay out of the easy listening section of their brick and mortar stores should their town be lucky enough to have one. There is a small to medium size group of artists that are determined to make a living based on their race and inequities of the past that they have in most cases never experienced. Lyrical pimps that pander to the politically correct and in doing so attempt to drive their own publicity train throwing both caution and integrity to the wind. We live in a racist society, we know that. You can not legislate human behavior any more than you can culturally strong arm an uneducated people.

This particular year has seen a dramatic decline in my personal health and for that reason along I will be cutting back my efforts in improvisational music by at least 50%. Newly discovered coronary artery disease is causing an already difficult situation with fatigue to become worse. I will work to spotlight new artists and promote existing talent that I enjoy. I am moving into uncharted waters by attempting to create a position that may be best described as critical publicist. I will still focus on labels such as Posi-Tone, HighNote, Concord, Mack Avenue, Woodward Avenue and probably a handful of other fine labels both major and Independent but at my own choosing. I will move more into pop culture including film as well as the burgeoning creative food industry, I am far from done and I am far from a one trick pony.

My output in improvisational music has been parallel to any major mainstream publication, now it is time for a little "me" time. I hope by clearing my calendar I will have more time to work on liner notes, bio work and projects that are far more expansive than that of the traditional critic. My hope is that the improvisational landscape will broaden as well. A few years back we all believed in Hope and Change but that dream crashed and burned as well. We shall see...My year end best of list will be appearing in a few short weeks. Many thanks to all my supporters.