Selmer La Voix II alto, Martín “The Martín” tenor, Yamaha YTS-21 tenor, Altus 907 flute
I suspect that modern jazz has always been background music/something to drown out with conversation for most people. Listening to Bill Evans' "Sunday at the Village Vanguard" it sounds like everyone in the joint is talking and/or buying drinks (on a decent system you can hear the cash register opening and closing). I listen to this and think, "Is nobody listening to this timeless genius being created?" Now if you go to a club nobody talks because it's so freakin' expensive to get that 75 minutes of music. But if you're playing anything resembling jazz in a restaurant or at a party, most people will ignore you, unless you play too loud to ignore, in which case they'll complain to the manager or host. Ironically, if you play recorded pop music at ear-bleeding levels through godawful sounding speakers in a bar, this is considered ambience, and people are happy to shout their conversations over it. There was a study some years back where they had Joshua Bell play in Union Station. Most commuters didn't even stop to listen for a second, let alone put money in his case. Point being, I suppose, that the appreciation of art depends a lot on context, and today there aren't a lot of live, in-person contexts for audiences to engage with complex music not made for dancing. But this is not entirely new. Personally, I'd love to be a wallpaper musician rather than just a basement practice room musician, though this too has its charms.