The headline in Allegro, the newspaper of New York’s Local 802, American Federation of Musicians, heralded the presence of the jazz tribe: “over 8,000 educators, musicians, industry executives, media and students from 45 countries,” attending the 34th annual conference of the International Association of Jazz Educators. And when the annual photo of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters in the hotel’s lobby got under way, there were so many paparazzi you’d think jazz is a popular music.
And a long piece by Nate Chinen in the Jan. 7 New York Times was headed: “Jazz is Alive and Well, In the Classrooms Anyway.” The last phrase in that headline brought me back to reality. There have never been so many colleges, universities, free-standing teaching institutions on how to become a jazz musician. But where would all these graduates find gigs, let alone recording contracts?