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Final Chorus: Uncovering Jazz Trails

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?

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Originally Published
Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

Over more than 60 years, Nat Hentoff (1925-2017) wrote about music, politics, and many other subjects for a variety of publications, including DownBeat (which he edited from 1953 to 1957), the Village Voice (where he was a weekly columnist from 1958 to 2009), the Wall Street Journal, and JazzTimes, to which he regularly contributed the Final Chorus column from 1998 to 2012. Of the 32 books that he wrote, co-wrote, or edited, 10 focus on jazz. In 2004, Hentoff became the first recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Masters award for jazz advocacy.