But this question is really about the question or is it yet another one which is really saying that jazz is not popular and therefore we are supposed to draw some negative conclusion from it?
I wasn't trying to get anyone to draw a negative conclusion about jazz! In fact, I think the people I know who don't want to listen really don't know what they're missing. I feel like it's a fact that it's great music--varied, expressive, creative, pulsing, vital--and it has an amazing history that's fun to learn about. So it's a shame, I think, that there's a barrier that keeps people from hearing it.
Maybe the people who like something are more "right" about it than those who don't. ('Cause they look at it and see it.) Like, I'm not really into 17th Century English Poetry, e.g., George Herbert, Thomas Carew, etc. (nobody writes it, thank god), but the people who love it know more about it, they understand it better than I do. I would be smarter, more aware, more alive (?) than I am if I "got" it, too. Maybe.
A reaction I often hear about jazz is the one you hear about any kind of music someone doesn't like: "It all sounds the same to me," but I have to admit, that's exactly what I
say about the kinds of music I don't like! It's true: if you don't care for a type of music, you actually hear
(and focus on) what you think it all has in common, and you don't focus on the specifics that give it interest, variety, and expressive power.
I guess I'm really thinking about the people I know and live with. I mean, come on, you people (that's my wife, kids, siblings, friends), what's not to like about an album like Soul Station
by Hank Mobley or Kind of Blue
by Miles?) Actually, my mom loves jazz and doesn't play it (although she'd rather listen to Scott Hamilton than Archie Shepp).
Gary mentioned a few of the European and Canadian festivals, and I know the Monterey Jazz Festival draws more than a few non-musicians, too. I just don't know where they disappear to after the festival ends.
But the people I play jazz with really love it: they have incredible respect for it, study it, and enjoy
it! And so, obviously, do many people on this forum (which is one reason SOTW is so cool to read). I play other kinds of music, too, and there's always that difference between players and non-players (I mean, obviously, you don't willingly play the music unless you like it, so the players group is a pre-selected group of those who like it), but in my experience, it's just stronger with jazz than with classical or folk/acoustic stringband music (by which I mean modern blends of old time, bluegrass, celtic, cajun, etc., that are played by many contemporary acoustic guitar, mandolin, and fiddle players).