Return Post: I Am a Jazzbro
I apologize for my uncharacteristically lengthy and unexplained absence from this blog. I have every intention of producing more content, starting tonight and including catchup posts for Sunday afternoon and Monday evening. For now, I would like to draw your attention to an article published for The Atlantic discussing my favourite genre of music, jazz, and its current dearth of popular support. At the moment, the article claims, three key demographic groups buy most jazz music and pay to see live concerts. These are:
1. Aging Fans: people who cultivated a passion for jazz when it was more popular and visible in the media landscape.
2. Aging Concertgoers: the jazz, hipper equivalent of the bourgeois casual classical concert attendee. These people are most likely to be wealthier and financially supportive of higher-class spaces for jazz concerts.
3. Jazzbros: young men who, convinced of the superiority and marginality of their tastes, tend to proclaim jazz’s value to others and cultivate closed communities. According to the article, they also tend to be boisterous and exist at some stage or other of music education.
The main reason that I wanted to spread the news is that, while I don’t identify as a jazzer because I do not feel that I am as obnoxious as those described in the article, I am passionate about broadening popular awareness and appreciation of jazz as a musical form. I also acknowledge that, as a tiger with a white editor, I am not the group to which most jazz has historically been directed, nor am I the person for whom jazz was meant to supply a voice. Its emotions and spontaneous subversions, even its celebration of freedom, where present, are articulated on behalf of African Americans and other marginalized people. My appreciation of it, therefore, needs to be undertaken in awareness of that racial context. At this point, the most vital jazz scenes are not American and most jazz musicians that one would be likely to see on tour, even in America, are white and highly educated. That said, the music still has a lively vitality to it, and a wave of recent releases from numerous musicians has confirmed that jazz, as an aesthetic form, has far from outlived its relevance.
This is why I am going to rededicate this ongoing publication to “evangelizing” about jazz as well as providing some history and basic education about the music, its history, and major artists from the past and present. The latter are especially important, since art would be nothing without its practitioners. Neither would be it comprehensible in any meaningful way without an engaged and, hopefully, literate and knowledgeable, audience. One article per week, usually shorter than my normal output, will be dedicated to jazz in all of its complexities and knotty difficulties. I don’t want to spend too much time lamenting the genre’s commercial decline, so I will try to avoid the language of martyrdom. Though there may be times where I feel despairing, I want to maintain a feline, steely resolution to keep hope. Jazz, by its nature, is a musical form whose essence is constant turmoil and shifting, and as long as there is a dedicated community of listeners and writers and musicians communicating with each other in a productive manner, the music I love will continue to inspire and entertain.