Is jazz relevant anymore?

So, I’ve been doing some thinking about how to reach audiences. I mean really make a connection.

It’s generally come pretty easily for me when it’s a crowd that has really come to dig the music. I love feeling that connection with one or more people out in the audience. It’s the thing that keeps me motivated.

But that generally only works when the crowd is in the right place. That is, it only reaches out and touches people who are already jazz enthusiasts. Most of the others just leave scratching their heads thinking jazz is somehow beyond their grasp.

I think if that’s the case then I’ve failed as a musician. I don’t think that’s where our forefathers (Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Young, etc) wanted us to be.

Of course, we’ve all noticed the current trend among jazz records to include more recent hit tunes – such as Brad Melhdau’s covers of Radiohead tunes, the Bad Plus doing their thing and even Don Braden doing popular tunes with an organ trio.

I don’t think that’s the answer, personally. Well, it might be but the current situation misses the mark for me. Why? Because they’re approaching these rock tunes from a jazz perspective and the musics are fundamentally different: jazz expects rather complicated chord progressions and rock tunes avoid them. Thus, to simply play rock tunes in a jazz setting is going to produce very bland results. 🙁

I think we’re at a point where a new approach to reharmonizing these tunes in a more profound way is required. That’s what I’m experimenting with back at the wood shed. Hopefully you’ll be hearing the results from a recording project I’m spinning up later in October…

Stay tuned! 🙂

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