Where we continue to espouse "the Middle Mind mediocrity of NPR fern bar jazz."
--JazzTimes Suspends Publication, Furloughs Staff: So there you have it. Personally, I see a note of optimism in this, though; while we were all steeling ourselves mentally for the rag to go under immediately, it looks like it'll be back up and running if the management can find a new owner. As for reactions, Marc Myers of JazzWax ties it to the death of Old Media everywhere, and I'm inclined to agree. The problem wasn't necessarily that people are caring less about jazz -- though my more misanthropic side might also suggest that argument -- it's that the medium defined the message. Let's hope it was the case of a talented staff (their managing editor writes for NPR Music, you know) hamstrung to a business model that compromised its relevance, or sustainability, or probably both. I hope they at least come back on the Web; the more people who care enough to think publicly about jazz, the better. Sugar daddies, your attention please. (Related: the Bay Area's only remaining all-jazz station is also in trouble.)
--Six Gateway Jazz Albums: Speaking of dying print magazines, Paste ran this little feature on introducing jazz to "rock elitists." Some of the rock to jazz analogies are a bit of a stretch -- "if you love Deerhoof's wacko math-rock, you'll love the collegiate, controlled trot of Dave Brubeck's music!" -- but the more eyes who see that Speak No Evil exists, the better. (Plus, it's not like we've never resorted to occasional corniness in introducing people to jazz, either.) Of course, nowadays I'd like to think that the jazz establishment and the pop/rock crowd ("normal" people) are at least on speaking terms; high/low cultural distinctions are increasingly irrelevant, and digital music culture can fully divorce a sound file from its apparently odious context. But it's a good list of albums in any event (after 1958, anyway).
--'Tradition' And Ornette Coleman: Pi Recordings, which seems to put out at least one of my favorite new releases every year, has an occasionally-updated blog penned by someone ostensibly younger, smarter and more talented than I am. Rafiq Bhatia has a illustrative anecdote to share which more or less sticks it to Stanley Crouch for his attempt to circumlocute Ornette Coleman into the jazz "tradition" -- and shows how that line of pedagogy could lead to poor jazz. I bet I'd have the same reaction if I were in that auditorium. In fact, after thinking about it, the only thing I really have to contribute to this discussion without resorting to a feature-length essay about the "jazz wars" would be a question I've wondered for a while: if it's more-or-less become a standard, why are there hardly any good versions of "Lonely Woman" other than the original? Anyway, related: Act Like You Know: Ornette Coleman
--The Memphis Mafia: WFIU's Night Lights program, one of public radio's real multi-platform pioneers, has the archive of a brilliant program about a group of Memphis musicians. Trumpeter Booker Little, saxophonists George Coleman and Frank Strozier and pianist Harold Mabern all went to high school together, all migrated to Chicago and all became important players for a short time in the heart of hard bop. (Funky pianist Phineas Newborn Jr. also came from Memphis, albeit slightly earlier.) Coleman is probably the best known of the bunch, for his association with Miles Davis in 1963-1964, but Little has always been a personal hero of mine. That scene begs for a professional history. In whatever case, the underlying story is one seen elsewhere in jazz as well: Philadelphia's Mastbaum High, Detroit's Cass Tech and Chicago's DuSable High (just to name a few) produced peer groups of great musicians who all eventually struck out more-or-less together for greener pastures. The power of peer pressure meets music programs worth a damn, it would seem.
--The Jazz Speakers Bureau: Finally, All About Jazz has is launching a new service: a clearinghouse for lecturers who can teach you or your organization how to use the Jazz Internet to your advantage. AAJ Publisher Michael Ricci, JazzVideoGuy Bret Primack, Promoter Jim Eigo and aforementioned blogger Marc Myers can now be hired for panels and workshops wherever you are. Ironic that one might hire an analog presentation for the digital workspace, but judging by the general slow creep of jazz toward the Internet, not particularly surprising that it could be monetized. But anything that would bring about more Jazz Internet is welcomed around these parts.
P.S. The Vision Festival starts today in New York City. We do not live in New York City. Nonetheless, more thoughts are coming.