At the beginning of last month, Createquity Writing Fellow Jennifer Kessler posted a round-up of efforts underway throughout the jazz community to modernize and broaden its relationship to audiences. Since then, several new publications and articles shed further light on the ongoing evolution of one of this country’s bona-fide homegrown art forms.
First up, an entertaining profile in Slate of George Wein, founder of the Newport Jazz Festival, shows a man still vigorously scouting out new talent and getting in the thick of it:
He goes to New York’s jazz clubs three times a week, keeping tabs on rising musicians, and still performs himself. “I’m not necessarily more modern, but I get into modal playing sometimes, and swing a little differently.” A recent line-up included the 79-year-old drummer Jimmy Cobb and 22-year-old Esperanza Spalding on bass. “I was 82,” he said. “We went in and swung for two shows a night for six nights. We broke up the place. Never stopped, and so that’s where I am with jazz.”
Comparing past and present, Wein identified a peculiar paradox of jazz today. “There are 1,000 nights of jazz every month in New York, but the days when you could fill Carnegie Hall are gone. Jazz is bigger than ever, but there are no big names.”
The audience has changed too. “When I had my club, people drank and they smoked, you could hear the tinkling of glasses. Now you go to a jazz club, it’s like a church service”, he said. “If you say something, people turn round and say ‘sssshhhh’. I get very mad, I’m going there to have a drink and listen to some music.”
Next, Technology in the Arts is out with a white paper on online engagement for jazz and classical music audiences. Written by Carnegie Mellon arts management graduate student Tara George, the document includes profiles of Search and Restore, Revive Music Group, eyeJazz.tv, and the Ninety Miles Project among others.
Finally, the Jazz Arts Group of Columbus, which was mentioned in Jennifer’s article, is spearheading a local Jazz Audiences Initiative funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and involving some big-name partners like WolfBrown’s Rebecca Ratzkin, Jazz at Lincoln Center, SFJAZZ, and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. The purpose of the initiative is to explore segmentation of jazz audiences and jazz not-yet-audiences, assess the language audience members use to talk about jazz, and convene a community of practice around jazz audience engagement. Now, Jazz Arts Group is setting up a call for research papers to be presented at next January’s Jazz Education Network conference.
The third annual Jazz Education Network Conference, January 4-7, Louisville, KY is calling for submission of research papers related to its theme “Developing Tomorrow’s Jazz Audiences Today.” The research track solicits the submission of original, principled research papers dealing with topics related to audience development for jazz in particular, but also for the arts in general. The research track will run parallel with presentations by the Jazz Arts Group of Columbus on the Jazz Audiences Initiative. Such presentations will include various track offerings, i.e. Marketing and Messaging; Venues; and Presenting and Producing. During the past 18 months, the Jazz Audiences Initiative has studied fundamental questions related to how and why people engage with jazz. Jazz artists, producers, presenters, and educators nationwide will learn new ideas for building audiences, and infusing the art form with new energy. The research serves as a framework for testing new strategies for overcoming barriers to jazz participation and for building jazz audiences through more targeted marketing and programming efforts.
Deadline is August 15. More info available at the link. Note that you must be a member of Jazz Education Network to submit a paper.