Why Jazz Has the Blues
Question: Is jazz still fresh?
Terry Teachout: It's a very exciting music. It's a very fresh music. But it is minority music in a way that it wasn't when Louis Armstrong was alive.
When Armstrong was at his peak, Jazz was a popular music. In a way, it was the popular music. I mean all of the most popular music of the '30's, and '40's, were deeply in formed by Jazz. This is not true now and this is a problem that I am especially interested in and I have written about because the National Endowment for the Arts has done research, polling, on audience involvement with the arts. And one of the things they've discovered, and which I have reported on and find very disturbing, is that the average age of the Jazz audience is increasing rapidly. Rapidly enough to suggest that there is no replacement among young people. That generally speaking, young people aren’t starting to listen to Jazz and carrying it along in their lives with them. That I find distressing, anxiety-making.
Part of what explains this and part of what relates to it is that Jazz really isn't a popular music. It is an art music now in a way that it wasn't in Armstrong's time. It is more demanding. It's not being made as a functional music for people to dance to. Now, I don't think there is anything wrong with that. I think it's wonderful. I love that kind of music. But I'm also aware, as a historian and as somebody who is aware of the problems of reaching an audience, that Jazz is becoming more like Classical music in terms of its relationship to the audience. And just a Classical music is grappling with the problem of audience development, so is Jazz grappling with this problem. Except most Jazz musicians don't want to acknowledge that they have a problem.
I wrote a column about this for the Wall Street Journal and was inundated with really angry mail and e-mail and blog postings from people who really, I think, just wanted to pretend the statistics didn't exist. That the world had not changed. I believe, deeply that Jazz is still a very vital music that has much to say, not just to eggheads, or whatever the musical equivalent of an egghead is, but to ordinary people. But it has to be systematic about getting out the message and developing an audience the way that classical musicians are increasingly working on audience development. If this doesn't happen, there's not going to be an audience for Jazz in 25 years.
Question: Who are the most exciting young musicians in jazz today?
Terry Teachout: Oh, boy. There's just a lot of people. I mean, Robert Glasper, who has integrated Hip Hop into this jazz piano playing. The Bad Plus, the fascinating, well, you wouldn't want to call them an infusion group now, I mean, the music has moved on from that. But the Bad Plus plays a kind of Jazz that also has room for doing covers by bands like Blonde. They have access to all different kinds of music and even Iverson, their pianist, has some of the most curious **** in Jazz.
Maria Schneider, the best Big Band composer in Jazz today. Out there, there are all kinds of musicians that you want to know about, find out about. Luciano Sousa, the Brazilian Jazz singer, people who have something to say, not just to 50-year-olds, but to 20-year-olds as well.
Recorded on November 17, 2009
Interviewed by Austin Allen
Jazz is still exciting, says critic Terry Teachout, but its inability to connect with young audiences is "anxiety-making" for lovers of the art.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.
- It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
- Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
A disturbing interview given by a KGB defector in 1984 describes America of today and outlines four stages of mass brainwashing used by the KGB.
- Bezmenov described this process as "a great brainwashing" which has four basic stages.
- The first stage is called "demoralization" which takes from 15 to 20 years to achieve.
- According to the former KGB agent, that is the minimum number of years it takes to re-educate one generation of students that is normally exposed to the ideology of its country.
Our attention is more than just a resource. It is an experience.
'We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom.' Those were the words of the American biologist E O Wilson at the turn of the century. Fastforward to the smartphone era, and it's easy to believe that our mental lives are now more fragmentary and scattered than ever. The 'attention economy' is a phrase that's often used to make sense of what's going on: it puts our attention as a limited resource at the centre of the informational ecosystem, with our various alerts and notifications locked in a constant battle to capture it.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.