Most jazz fans can think of at least a couple dozen shows they wish they could hear again. Thanks to digital recording, it’s practical to document the jazz gigs you attend—but only if you can navigate the complex and conflicting expectations of the performers, the audience and the venue. “Taping” is an established and often encouraged practice in the jam-band scene, but the ethics of recording a jazz performance are more questionable.
Is it OK?
Recording most or all of a musical performance without permission is technically illegal, and distributing the recording without permission is obviously illegal. But such prohibitions are difficult to enforce. “It’s nearly impossible to prevent people from recording the performance,” saxophonist and composer Ken Vandermark tells me.