The Year of Independence had been incubating for some time. ArtistShare, self-run labels, grassroots promotion-these were already old stories when 2006 cranked into gear. But at a time when the music industry at large showed clear signs of balkanization, if not a shambling disintegration, jazz artists finally seemed ahead of the curve. The internet facilitated not only a means of distribution but also a vibrant realm of discourse, a place for every enfranchised voice to weigh in. As a global community, the jazz world got a little bigger, and smaller, all at once and without contradiction.
Through it all, there were the gigs: thousands of them, happening in more places than ever, or at least in recent memory. Judging by the profusion and quality of live music in New York City, you’d be hard-pressed to make a case for jazz as suffering a drought of any kind. And the reason for the micro-renaissance? An intuitive understanding that independence means virtually nothing in isolation; that jazz, as one of the most human of arts, can only thrive in societal conditions.