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I just read through this whole thread. Aside from the super-bitchy flame wars, it was an interesting read. There are a couple points I'd like to make.

First - I deplore the term "market for jazz". Jazz is not a vegetable, it's an art. It won't be to everyone's liking (well, neither are some veggies), but that doesn't make it more or less valuable as a pursuit.
Second - even the greats had to work wallpaper gigs. My understanding is that Red Rodney and Bird met at a wedding gig. There is no shame in being a musician, but hunger and homelessness is a distinct possibility. Wedding gigs help with that...

Just because one can't expect to make a good living playing jazz, at least exclusively, doesn't mean it's not worthwhile to study, learn and enjoy. Some very lucky and talented people do earn their living playing jazz, but that is definitely a very small percentage of those who call themselves jazz musicians. It has always been this way, even in the big band era there was a lot of really crappy schlocky music. So today, jazz guys get by with teaching and being a DJ and weddings and corporate party bands and... No biggie, it's just life.

Being an artist is hard work. Lots of great musicians had or have day gigs. (Wayne Shorter sold shoes for heaven's sake!). It doesn't mean jazz is dead. It just means that the really valuable things in life aren't valued in society. Which is a shame, but it has always been this way.
 

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I deplore the term "market for jazz". Jazz is not a vegetable, it's an art.
True, but art still gets marketed, that's why artists, actors etc. have agents and/or publicists.

It's a very rare few who get discovered without any kind of promorion, whether it be self promotion or 2nd party.
 

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Year after year for an entire life we study, practice, and buy lots of expensive gear for "THAT" perfect sound. Then the first gig after Covid is Wallpaper Jazz in the corner - "Not to loud." Honestly, Pentatonic Scales on a Yamaha Beginner set-up would work. This morning, I spend an hour and a half moving a 1 measure minor ii-V pattern around all keys today. Are we ALL CRAZY!!!!!

What are those poor kids getting Jazz Degrees going to do?
No doubt, with their first employer some will say, "Do you want that regular or super-sized?"

Recently I have been listening to a lot more music from musicians south of the US border. Been noticing that much of the music in Spanish is using MIDI technology for the singer's backing tracks. I guess it keeps recording costs down for sales on the other side of the wall.

Recently I purchased a high end Korg keyboard. Building backing tracks, it sounds very convincing including solo wind and brass instruments. It is not hard to understand that the last rehearsal prior to Michael Jackson's untimely passing, his band consisted of 4 keyboards, trap set, electric bass, a couple solo wind instrumentalists, etc. Yet when performing, sounded like a full band.

The MIDI "robotics" have diminished the need for instrumentalists and full bands.
 

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The MIDI "robotics" have diminished the need for instrumentalists and full bands.
And I walk out accordingly if ever I'm confronted with such degradation. Seriously, I remember a beachfront resort hotel that had this beautiful grand piano in their gorgeous Victorian themed parlor right on the boardwalk overlooking the ocean. Was a great room for before or after a fine meal. That is until one musician plunked his Korg right on top of the closed keyboard and drummed the hackiest, faux-bigband nonsense throughout the room. Just straight-up piano playing should do... assuming the player is competent enough to carry a gig solo.

Sure, I know it's no longer economically feasible to hire full bands anymore... but now it's even hard to catch a decent three piece combo. Canned music accompaniment is akin to playing along with a radio... and the radio has more soul.
 

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No doubt, with their first employer some will say, "Do you want that regular or super-sized?"

Recently I have been listening to a lot more music from musicians south of the US border. Been noticing that much of the music in Spanish is using MIDI technology for the singer's backing tracks. I guess it keeps recording costs down for sales on the other side of the wall.

Recently I purchased a high end Korg keyboard. Building backing tracks, it sounds very convincing including solo wind and brass instruments. It is not hard to understand that the last rehearsal prior to Michael Jackson's untimely passing, his band consisted of 4 keyboards, trap set, electric bass, a couple solo wind instrumentalists, etc. Yet when performing, sounded like a full band.

The MIDI "robotics" have diminished the need for instrumentalists and full bands.
Do you think MIDI is an acceptable substitute? Because I sure don't. I understand the money-saving aspect of it (and detest that), but when recorded properly, a MIDI horn section never stacks up. But, again, modern recording style lends itself to a "sterile" (as I call it) sound. When you smooth out all the imperfections, you remove the human element.

To each there own, I suppose. But I would be incredibly disappointed to see someone play a digital horn section on a gig instead of a live one.
 

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Recently I have been listening to a lot more music from musicians south of the US border. Been noticing that much of the music in Spanish is using MIDI technology for the singer's backing tracks. I guess it keeps recording costs down for sales on the other side of the wall.
Are we still talking about jazz or is this a different topic?

It is not hard to understand that the last rehearsal prior to Michael Jackson's untimely passing, his band consisted of 4 keyboards, trap set, electric bass, a couple solo wind instrumentalists, etc. Yet when performing, sounded like a full band.

The MIDI "robotics" have diminished the need for instrumentalists and full bands.
Again, is this about jazz or pop music? I would suggest starting a different thread

In pop music it is nothing new, at least 30+ years since the use of sequencers, drum machines ands samples.
 

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Do you think MIDI is an acceptable substitute? Because I sure don't. I understand the money-saving aspect of it (and detest that), but when recorded properly, a MIDI horn section never stacks up. But, again, modern recording style lends itself to a "sterile" (as I call it) sound. When you smooth out all the imperfections, you remove the human element.

To each there own, I suppose. But I would be incredibly disappointed to see someone play a digital horn section on a gig instead of a live one.
When I was bandless for a little while I teamed up with a guitarist from a band we used to share gigs with. He used MIDI backing, that he'd personalised and corrected to suit him better. We called ourselves DuoSaurus, because of a comment about us playing dinosaur music. A good thing was that when we played a song, we had every instrument backing us up, a Deep Purple song sounded like Deep Purple were our backing band, not some bozos on bass and drums.
It was a great learning experience, there's no leeway, come in a bar early and you'll be standing there like an idiot waiting for the chorus. I had to relearn songs I'd been singing and playing for over 15 years.
It was a great experience, but not the real deal.
The upside was that the two of us could play a gig and not have to split the money 6 ways, and the rhythm section was always tight!
I think there is some room for this in styles like Jazz and Big Band music, you can have as many different instruments as you want backing you up, have 20 "guys and girls" playing on the song, or just a drummer.
I can see this working for a Jazz "band" very well for some gigs, you might have a singer, guitarist and a sax or two and get the sound of a much bigger band, and you can go at the drop of a hat, nothing much to lug around or set up. You'd also be ready for gigging much sooner, no searching for bandmates and then practicing for months to get 35 songs down, if you know 35 songs you can take the gig. I say 35 songs because that has always been my standard minimum amount to have down pat before I declare that we're ready to accept bookings. That covers 3 sets and encores, more than 3 hours with 15 minute breaks, and that should satisfy any customer in my book.
So I think the subject of MIDI and backing tracks is very relevant to the discussion, it might even be something that keeps Jazz out there in the general public. :)
 

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Sorry to come this late with a basic question, but the original title implies a knowledge of "what is jazz".
So what is jazz for the OP? Is it defined by the OP by a time period, by a number of artists, by certain instruments, by a time signature, by improvisation? If defined by "who is playing", let's agree for argument's sake that Branford Marsalis is for all intents and purposes, a "jazz player". He's not exactly "wallpaper". He plays regularly with Sting, not a wallpaper act either. Does it mean that:
  • Branford Marsalis stops being a jazz player when he plays with Sting ? (I don't think so)
  • Sting's music is jazz ?(I think so yes).
It's either one or the other, in the above example.

Is it improv? Then we have to count every great improviser of solos from Jimi Hendrix to Prince as jazz players.

My personal take on it is that jazz is not limited to the styles played between 1930-1959 or a later date often referred to, nor to the brass-piano-drumset-sax-double bass, nor Big Bands, nor New Orleans nor Latin jazz, which are only names to make categories for practical purposes... Jazz is more like a tree with many branches. Of the many styles that branched out, modern pop music is in direct line, and so are hip-hop and R&B. So all I hear all day on the radio is "jazz" in one form or another.

Perhaps a historian of Jazz or of Music could be more specific and enlighten us, but to me the term is too generic, and could be compared to "classical music" (encompassing gregorian, baroque, romanticism, symphony, operetta, chamber music, waltz, german opera, post-serialism, etc).
 

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Agreed, of course. I did write "or a later date often referred to". I often have the impression that people think of jazz as a past thing, which height was at the time when the likes of Charlie Parker (died 1955) and John Coltrane or similar big names were around (Miles, Duke, Thelonious, etc). My point was: there may have been a date that started jazz (to be determined), but there isn't one when it stopped.

I would suggest that turn of the century Ragtime is a good threshold between classical and jazz.

Perhaps it would be for another thread, but I think Blues, spirituals, gospel music, and long before that African rythms should count as a root of jazz, so, long before 1900.
 

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I would suggest that turn of the century Ragtime is a good threshold between classical and jazz.
Yes I would agree. I'm sure ther has been lost of musicology on what heppened between Ragtime and 1917, but it must all be aencdotal and diffoculyt to pinpoint. We know stories of Buddy Bolden etc. but it may well remain even less documented than whether renaissance singers used vibrato or not.
 

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Well, a good starting point is "African-American improvised music" - although there are large sections of what we call rock and roll that fit into that category as well. I don't mean that only Black people play the music, but that it comes from Black people, just like if you say "European art music" we know you're talking about what's commonly called "Classical" - Mozart, Beethoven, etc. - even though lots of non-Europeans both compose and perform in that style. And if I, a Scotch-Irish American, take up playing Carnatic music, it's still Carnatic music.

Anyway, there's "something" that's clearly recognized as "jazz" from sometime before 1917, through to today. Other music forms can blend into it (aforementioned music made by rock stars with jazz players, featuring a certain degree of improvisation - what old farts like me would call "jazz rock"; Western Swing; Prog rock (doesn't swing, but tons of improvisation and a lot of harkening to players like Coltrane); Southern blues-rock like Allman Bros - lots of improvisation, lot of material drawn from African-American sources; etc.) Somehow, though, those forms that "blend into" jazz remain distinct from it too.
 

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well, whatever jazz (actually jas jass or even jasz ) meant in the beginning it certainly doesn’t apply now ( just look at what Jazz festivals programmed until short time ago)

104507



In fact , to me, the definition of jass or jazz was acquired when it developed a “ canon” the tradition which then evolved i to what we now call standards.

The music is defined by the approach to the improvisation, the use the base theme which defines the environment, gives the “ form” and the chords progression, then you apply improvisation to the form (in this it differed from many other types of music) and then you get Jazz, in fact you can (and it has been done) use this upon any type of music, whether is was meant to be jazz or not ( see “ my favorite things” ).


the first recorded Jass music


 

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Just because one can't expect to make a good living playing jazz, at least exclusively, doesn't mean it's not worthwhile to study, learn and enjoy
That's exactly how I feel... I practice and play because I love it. I also believe music has value in and of itself which exists independently of fame, fortunate, popularity, critical acclaim etc. I try not to predicate my enjoyment of playing or music, on other people.

Sometimes I really enjoy "wallpaper" gigs; there's little pressure and if the musicians are good you can just have fun making music (albeit being mindful of volume). I tend to play for myself, the other musicians and there's always a handful of people who appreciate the music.

I also wonder how much we look at the past with rose tinted glasses... I was watching a live recording of Lennie Tristano sextet (with Marsh and Konitz) and l wonder how many people are there really listening and appreciating the music, and how many are just out for drink etc. (nothing wrong with that). No doubt there were more playing opportunities in the past for jazz musicians, but I know some musicians at the time wished jazz would move from the club to the concert hall. Pretty much all of my favorite listening experiences have been in smaller rooms but I can definitely understand the attraction
 

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When I was bandless for a little while I teamed up with a guitarist from a band we used to share gigs with. He used MIDI backing, that he'd personalised and corrected to suit him better. We called ourselves DuoSaurus, because of a comment about us playing dinosaur music. A good thing was that when we played a song, we had every instrument backing us up, a Deep Purple song sounded like Deep Purple were our backing band, not some bozos on bass and drums.
It was a great learning experience, there's no leeway, come in a bar early and you'll be standing there like an idiot waiting for the chorus. I had to relearn songs I'd been singing and playing for over 15 years.
It was a great experience, but not the real deal.
The upside was that the two of us could play a gig and not have to split the money 6 ways, and the rhythm section was always tight!
I think there is some room for this in styles like Jazz and Big Band music, you can have as many different instruments as you want backing you up, have 20 "guys and girls" playing on the song, or just a drummer.
I can see this working for a Jazz "band" very well for some gigs, you might have a singer, guitarist and a sax or two and get the sound of a much bigger band, and you can go at the drop of a hat, nothing much to lug around or set up. You'd also be ready for gigging much sooner, no searching for bandmates and then practicing for months to get 35 songs down, if you know 35 songs you can take the gig. I say 35 songs because that has always been my standard minimum amount to have down pat before I declare that we're ready to accept bookings. That covers 3 sets and encores, more than 3 hours with 15 minute breaks, and that should satisfy any customer in my book.
So I think the subject of MIDI and backing tracks is very relevant to the discussion, it might even be something that keeps Jazz out there in the general public. :)

Man, I cannot see myself going to see a jazz band where half or more of the band isn't actually there. I'm not arguing the viability and cost-effectiveness, I am more lamenting that the "art" is always secondary.

I wouldn't go see a big band with 2 saxes, 2 bones, a trumpet, and a DJ. Now if you say "well, that's not he music we'll play," then that is something different. I feel there is no artistic substitute for a live, acoustic instrument. I will take a live horn section 10 out of 10 times, an acoustic drum every time over electric drums.

I know, I know, I sound like an old curmudgeon. I just think they're not interchangeable and that using MIDI instead of musicians has definitely killed horn players' gigs and appeal to the general public. I think it works better when copying electric instruments because they're already electric, but a person will imo always be more meaningful.

C'et la vie, life goes on.
 

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well, that move to concert hall and conservatoria certainly alienated a part of the audience and attracted an other.


without entering the political quarters , this is part of the elite forming and anti-elitist movements which started take place from the onset of the 20th century. The Chutzpah is that this very “ popular “ form of music was acquired and embraced by the higher classes. While the more popular rock & roll music moved and evolved from the blues and in fact gave popularity to a genre that would have been otherwise losing popularity.

B.B. King and Muddy Waters paid a lot of credit to artists such as the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton who brought them to Europe and created a market when the blues charter in America was becoming the ghost of itself
 
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So true. And it reminds that many definitions of "jazz" can be given. For example, in Ken Burns' documentary, Wynton Marsalis includes blues as jazz, which dates jazz at least deep into the 19th century, but he also defines jazz as a unique way to interact between musicians in a band (but that doesn't really include jazz artists making solo concerts like Keith Jarrett or Petrucciani).

(See his interview between 01:00 to 02:00)

look at what Jazz festivals programmed
So so true. Jazz festivals rightly include so many different genres that it's basically "everything but classical" festivals.

But even the distinction between classical and jazz can be blurry. After all, every classical composer is improvising the first time they write a composition. As Wynton Marsalis says, Bach improvised too.

Getting back to the OP's worried question about jobs: "Is there really a Market for Jazz? Or are we destined to be Wallpaper Musicians", I think that musicians who study or practice "jazz" are facing the same market as other professionals. A good musician is a good musician. A good performer has more chances to be in demand than a bad one. Perhaps jazz players are more in demand than classical musicians because from recording studio sessions to concerts, there seems to be more demand of jazz musicianship (in all its diversity) than of classical.
 

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precisely, you can call even classical music jazz, because unlike other things ( but I said this already) jazz isn’t a genre but a methodology, an approach .

The using sof any sort of piece of music as a base to device a “ form” upon which to improvise is the jazz method , then it become irrelevant the music you use as was to then elaborate the weft.
 

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you mean this isn’t jazz? :cool:



 
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