Hey, have you heard about and bought tickets for this concert we're doing?
--Wynton Marsalis On Pop Music: Those of you who know your way around this topic are going "not again" -- but this time it's a very public discussion. Basically: Marsalis references Michael Jackson to outline his structural critique of much modern pop. But! A one Lisa Conlon, who also obviously knows what she's talking about, takes him to task in the the comments. So he responds in a follow-up post. And so does she, in the comments of that post. Judging from Wynton's Twitter feed, all this took place on a 20-hour drive through Europe (Marsalis, as you may know, intensely dislikes flying). I'll maintain my public opinion agnosticism (don't get me started), but I will point out: for once in practice, this is how Web 2.0 should theoretically work! Marsalis' comment: "I take no offence at critiques of my music and am happy to be able to respond to you without being sabotaged by some arm of a corrupted jazz media."
--Maria Schneider On Gil Evans: The protege discusses the mentor. (Related: the manatee has become the mento.) Jazz.com has the goods. And speaking of Maria Schneider ...
--Weighing In On Schneidergate: This capsule review of a Maria Schneider concert made Internet rounds last week precisely because of its flippancy -- and negativity in doing so. (Read the comments.) I had this big ol' rant started about it -- but decided ultimately that it wasn't worth it. Peter Hum goes in, though, and I think that it's one of the more fair-minded statements so far about the matter. Quote: "simply because of their commitment to their craft and their art, musicians deserve better than to be the butt of inanities." At least with respect to their music, I'd assent to that.
I will say, though, that the reviewer, Mr. Heinrich, makes no bones about the fact that he isn't a jazz guy. And it's important to see how people outside the jazz community -- a community whose members are so thoroughly rooting for Maria Schneider, myself included -- perceive our music. Often times the most interesting things about a concert aren't the songs themselves. Of course, this is less so in most (non-Sun Ra-esque) jazz now, which is often structured as an intent listening experience. And I didn't think Mr. Heinrich's commentary was particularly deft or useful in any category anyway. Which is why I killed the rant in the first place ... and started it again here. Good work, me.
--And The Self-Confidence Award Goes To Matthew Shipp: Here's a curious entry. It's painfully unclear what relationship pianist Matt Shipp bears to this bit of writing, published on Brilliant Corners; it's not specified in any detail. In any event, it seems perfectly in line with the agent provocateur approach practiced by Chris Rich, the proprietor of that site. Quoth: "I hear no one in the world with as developed and distinct voice as I have on my instrument for this period in the music." And: "I transcend their stupid f-----g jazz." I will say that I do generally enjoy Shipp's music, and in the brief times I've met him, I've found him a pleasant fellow, and that all artists are entitled to their pride about their work (how would you take yourself seriously if you didn't at least have that?). But with respect to attracting new audiences, I don't know if I'd say that about anything I did, even if I thought it was true.
--Bringing Latin Jazz To Young People: Finally, Chip Boaz has a few suggestions as to the actually important element of jazz's supposed crises: how to attract a younger audience. I'm doubtful that, say, making Latin jazz ringtones will really do anything without an image makeover for the word jazz in general (and especially Latin jazz, marginalized as it always has been). But it can't hurt to try, and he has the right idea at least: "It would be easy to blame Hip Hop, television, video games, Facebook, or other cultural diversions, but ... Rather than looking at all the things that young people are doing to take their attention away from Latin Jazz, how about looking at what we -- artists, fans, journalists, promoters -- are not doing to include them." Agreement.