I'm a freelance writer by day and a working jazz musician by night, and often I am able to combine my two lines of work. This blog is for posting gigs & various rants about music and life in general.

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Location: Central Illinois, United States
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Monday, January 16, 2006

is jazz dead?

It's time to wave goodbye to another jazz gig. Farewell, Friday night happy hours with the Fulton Street Gang at the Hotel Pere Marquette. The hotel is undergoing a major renovation project and when the lounge is finished, management has decided to offer food instead of jazz. I guess the two can't co-exist, so one of us had to go. As usual, it's the music portion.

For me, the timing is actually ok. I was planning on playing thru February and then either cutting back after the baby is born or having someone else take over the gig for me entirely. But I feel bad for 2 reasons:

(1) The guys in the band have been playing a Friday night gig together for nearly 15 years--first at the Grill (across the street) and for the last 3 years at the Pere. That's a LONG time. They're actively looking for a new happy hour spot so readers, if you've got any suggestions please do send them in. I'll pass the info along the Gang.

Although every long-term gig warrents complaints from time to time, I really have appreciated the opportunity to perform with the Gang. We've shared some magical musical moments of various types and have, in general, had a good time together. These are the boys who welcomed me into the local jazz scene when I was a clueless college student with minimal abilities, initially learning about jazz, hoping for an opportunity to sit in with anyone more experienced than myself (which was everyone). They taught me tunes and pushed me to strive to be a better musician. They turned me on to new artists and new venues. For that I am grateful....thanks, guys. We'll share the stage again sometime soon, I am certain.

(2) This instance ends yet another chapter in the live music scenario. So many places now are cutting back on their music and their pay (which of course directly affects the type/size of band that can be booked). Many venues have ceased to support live music completely. What's going to happen to jazz as a live art form? While there are some folks who truly appreciate the music, many more would rather head to a club to hear pre-processed beats and throw back a dozen Red Bulls. It's sad, really. As the average age of jazz-appreciative audiences inches upward, what can be predicted for even the near future...just 10 years down the road?

Fortunately, I have other interests. My writing career is going well and with these upcoming life/family changes, I had planned to focus more on this area anyway. But my love of music and performing isn't going anywhere...I still want to play when I can. And what about the musicians who live for music 100%? Sure there are recording projects to tackle and clinics to be given, but that's not the same thing as working with a live band--your own live band--and creating something that sounds good, feels good and is appreciated by a real audience.

So that's my rant for today. Hopefully things will look up soon...maybe a new venue will open and decide to support live music, and give it more than 2 weeks to take off. Until then...hope to see the locals at Panache (which has been supporting live jazz for almost 9 years!) and at other occasional spots. Oh, and on a side note, here's a link from the folks at AllAboutJazz to recommended listenings.


Blogger Papa Jazz said...

I sure hope that live jazz and jazz bands with original music will continue to bloom. Would be very sad if the would stop existing!

7:42 AM  
Anonymous willisquartet said...

i discover your blog today "surprise", the jazz nevers dead...définitivly...

12:58 AM  

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