I'm back from vacation, which I mostly spent doing a lot of stuff related to jazz. (Including occasionally posting here ... er, um, right.) And talking to so many folks in the jazz business allowed me to think critically about what's gone right and what hasn't in our 3+ months of bloggage. So this is to say, first: thanks for following us, if you are. We're pretty happy to be doing what we are, and happier to be sharing with you. I also know we've made some mistakes — by which I mean I've made some mistakes — and I think I've learned a bunch from them. So from here, we'll have fewer half-baked commentary pieces on my behalf (but not none), and more on the music itself, from those who are involved in creating and working with it. Less meta, mo' betta. Or something like that.
And now, back to the business of catching jazz up to the pace of music journalism right now. Starting with some notable links.
—A Wake-Up Call To The Jazz Internet: The CEO of Topspin, Ian Rogers, has written a post at his own blog which you all need to see. Rogers is a long-time music follower, and a jazz fan — but also one who hasn't followed new jazz music. And from his perspective, the Jazz Internet needs to "WAKE THE F—- UP":
It would appear jazz has a chicken/egg problem: it's not an Internet-generation art form so it hasn't picked up the tools of the Internet-age yet, but as a result it hasn't had the opportunity to benefit from some of the niche-ification other genres have.
At least with me, Rogers is preaching to the choir, but he has several constructive suggestions too. One is that he also urges us media types to invent a Pitchfork-style site where one could consistently discover new music. To which I say (speaking for NPR and the rest of the Jazz Internet which gets it): we're working on it!
—Hear New Music From Medeski Martin & Wood: If you haven't kept up with the band lately, the mentschen of Medeski Martin & Wood have released a series of three albums within the last year called Radiolarians. (They'll be packaged as a box set soon too.) In celebration, Nextbop.com has licensed 15 tracks from the recent MMW catalog that are now streaming at the Nextbop site. Details here, tracks here (scroll down to the bottom). Dudes are still making good music: check some of it out for free. And while you're at Nextbop, read what its young (as in 23-year-old) founders have to say about their struggles with the Jazz Internet.
—WBGO Goes To Detroit: For the Detroit International Jazz Festival. Lotsa blog updates from the road, plus five hours of concert recordings.
—Branford Marsalis On Jazz Education: I realize I'm probably late to this tea party, but this is sort of burning up the blogosphere:
Intelligent commentary via Ronan Guilfoyle, and on Darcy James Argue's comment thread. That only words I'll contribute is that on his own Marsalis Music (his own label) stage at this year's Newport Jazz Festival, Branford booked the North Carolina Central University combo and big band, and performed with the large ensemble. (NPR Music recorded those sets here.) Marsalis and his quartet spent a calendar year as artists in residence at NCCU; I wonder what those students would say.
—The University Of The Streets: I've heard stories about how New York's University of the Streets — an actual community center and venue, not just a euphemism — was once the hang and the center of some really creative jazz happenings. As this jazz.com piece explains, it's still going. News to me.
—A #jazzlives Update: Finally, Howard Mandel has updates about how the #jazzlives Twitter campaign is going after this weekend's Labor Day jazz festivals. As one might have expected, it hasn't been easy to keep the hashtag free of things that aren't live jazz events. (Perhaps #livejazz might have been a better choice?) But Mandel, who I finally re-connected with this weekend at the Chicago Jazz Festival, sees some benefit from it. You'll see some of my Tweets in there too.