Jazz In The 21st Century

Is there a future ?

I understand people all have their own taste in the Jazz Music that they choose to listen too, and that is cool. But when these same people arrogantly dismiss the musicians who explore the boundaries within Jazz, I despair. I believe that Jazz is not one form of music that belongs to any individual style, but is more a conceptual form of expression which allow musicians to be inspired by the greats, but allows them the freedom to create.

This attitude to me is an endless cycle of outright denial, and an example of people existing in there own safe little boxes, in almost all cases pigheadedly simply refusing to move out of it. This is the main reason, especially in the States that the Jazz music is in a very sad state of affairs. In my opinion, one of the main instigators is what they call "Smooth Jazz", radio stations playing nothing but safe, uninspiring and quite frankly boring music, refusing to support or play anything out of the box. I realise however that it does have it's place and if it means people are listening to jazz it can be no bad thing. I just wish that the stations would take the responsibility they have to their listeners and promote and play at least some of the new Jazz music coming through, at least give the listeners the opportunity to hear what is out there.

Another problem is a lot of musicians are just simply regurgitating the same old music ( i:e the great American songbook ), that's the main reason why the age group at most of the Jazz festivals are, let's say middle aged upwards. Here in the UK, the festivals are still very popular, I have attended many in the last few years, but unless they start to make the music more accessible and appealing to the younger generation, in 20-30 years time there will be little, if no Jazz scene apart from the academics crying in to there beers " what happened to Jazz " ?

To me Jazz has always been about the art of improvisation looking for different beats and styles trying to explore.

Jazz has to be spoon fed very very slowly people, and to the young people especially. There is so much wonderful New/Nu jazz around, most of it coming from Europe, it's fresh and exciting. It's wonderful young musicians/dj's who are still trying to break new Jazz and it's the young people that are appreciating and going out to the clubs and most importantly buying as well.

I believe the problem is firmly within the Jazz industry, and I am laying the blame with the purist, their opinion is that it's not jazz if it incorporates Rap/samples/broken beats/Dance/Soul. Surely if you can get people to listen to Jazz, in in any form that has to be good for the music ? and just maybe they might start to investigate the legends Miles & Co ?

Basically it's as simple as this we all need to try and open our minds to the music that is around now, I believe this can be the saviour of "Jazz" please no more versions of Around Midnight or Nights in Tunisia !, yes it has it's place, but please please try writing something new for a change instead of keep looking back and copying.

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Anthony "Aja" Allsop