No JVC Jazz Festival This Year

Yes, I know this is a story from last week, but between going away for
the Memorial Day weekend and having a cold, I haven’t gotten around to
posting this comment:

So there will be no JVC Jazz Festival this
year in New York City.  Whatever the reasons – and the NYT article
cited many – it is unfortunate.

Ironically, in a “Take Five” posted recently on, I responded that more younger people need to be involved on the business side of music, when asked “What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?“. 
The JVC Jazz Festival Event organizer is a thirty-something guy, a
Columbia undergrad.  Basically, the kind of person I was talking about
in my response.  I do hope he’ll be able to make a go of it
eventually.  I agree with him that “destination” music events can be a
successful, but they may have to expand their portfolio to include more
events that aren’t specifically jazz events.  I think it would be cool
to do a rock and jazz festival, of course since that basically
encompasses my taste in music.  I’m not talking about these festivals
that are “jazz” in name only, but a festival actually billed as
duo-genre event with acts representing both kinds of music.

thought of my ideal rock-jazz festival leads me also to the observation
that in this economy music events targeted towards younger audiences
(rock, hip hop) are doing much better than music events targeted
towards older audiences (classical, jazz).  I don’t know
much about the reasons for this year’s JVC Jazz Festival cancellation
beyond what I read in the NYT article, but you don’t hear anything
negative about South by or Coachella or the upcoming Bonnaroo.  In
fact, when it comes to South by, all you hear about is how the festival
gets bigger every year. 

NYT article quoted one person by name and mentioned others on the
business side of jazz concerned that the cancellation of this event
would indicate that jazz is not a marketable music.  To me the
cancellation of this year’s event regardless of its specific reasons
represents decades worth of missteps by the powers that be in jazz,
most notably the marginalization of fusion.  (I know Joe Zawinul is
smiling down on me as I write this.)  It’s just unreasonable to expect
someone who grew up listening to rock or r&b or hip-hop or world
music to readily take to bebop or retro standards.  Then, you get into
the bigger issues – the paucity and haphazardness of cultural education
in this country, the primacy of the tv and the internet as people’s
entertainment choices, the way in which this culture measures
something’s worth by its current monetary value. 

really do hope that the JVC Jazz Festival will be back in some form or
another next year.  If it does happen again next year, my guess is that
it will be a smaller festival.  I unfortunately also could see it
coming back as a more straight-ahead festival like Tanglewood’s, a
somewhat reactionary response to this year’s cancellation.  Ultimately,
I think it’s unwise to place too much emphasis or hope on these big
events.  The future health and viability of jazz and standards will
depend on younger, independent musicians who make music that is relevant
to their generation’s experience, and not on these big events, which by
nature represent the status quo.

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