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The Gig: The Year in Gigs

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.

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Originally Published
Nate Chinen

Nate Chinen

Nate Chinen is the director of editorial content for WBGO and a longtime contributor to JazzTimes, which published 125 installments of his column “The Gig” between 2004 and 2017. For 12 years, he was a critic for The New York Times; prior to that, he wrote about jazz for the Village Voice, the Philadelphia City Paper, and several other publications. He is the author of Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century (2018) and the co-author of George Wein’s autobiography Myself Among Others: A Life in Music (2003).