And All That Jazz

I admit it.  I get a thrill whenever I see the names of people or organizations that I know being featured in national magazines or newspapers.  That was the case this past Sunday when The New York Times did a major feature article on the International Association for Jazz Education Conference (IAJE) being held in New York this week. 

Here is a link to the article by Nate Chinen.  It is a very interesting story.  I recommend that you set aside some time to read it if you are interested in jazz or music education.

There will be over 8,000 jazz enthusiasts, students, teachers and commercial members attending the convention this week in New York!

Mr. Chinen makes the point in his article that while the nightclub scene for jazz in the USA is anemic, residents of many college towns have a great opportunity to listen to professional-caliber jazz performances on campus on a regular basis.  I shudder when I think of how many jazz clubs have shut their doors here in Los Angeles.  The same is true in Chicago and most other major cities.

But jazz is alive and well in the classroom – and at the IAJE Convention this week!  Some of the best skilled performers are not making their living playing in clubs.  Rather, they are passing on their knowledge and nurturing talent in the classroom as teachers and professors.  And building up a larger audience of people who enjoy listening to and playing jazz music. 

I doubt that the club scene will ever come back to where it was in the '50s – and don't hold your breath waiting for a major record label to start promoting new jazz stars.  But who cares?  Not when you can get a regular jazz fix at a local college campus and listen and purchase great jazz recordings from independent labels (many started and owned by the players themselves!)

I strongly support professional associations.  If you want to have a career and not just work for a living you must become active in one or more professional associations.  Next week, I will be working for clients at the largest music products association convention – the NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA.  The IAJE Convention is a good example of a professional association for performers, teachers, commercial members and jazz enthusiasts.  You can't beat the energy rush and good fellowship that you get from actually attending a convention.  Therefore, I was really intrigued, by the closing paragraph of Mr. Chinen's article in the New York Times:

“In that sense, the International Association for Jazz Education conference might be understood not as a collision of worlds but as a gathering of the tribes.  And the most important thing that happens there isn't a clinic or show or ceremony, or a negotiation on the expo floor.  It's what happens after, when the various jazz constituencies pack up their stuff and head home.”

 That's a great insight. And a challenge for all of us.  To take the energy and ideas and skills that we acquire at our conventions and start to implement – and share – them with our colleagues back home in our communities.  Jazz education seems to be doing that quite nicely.  Thank you very much!


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