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We get the type of jazz that's being referred to and how and why it's the consequence of academic teaching. As others have indicated ther's lots of styles of music that have shared the same label of jazz. It's understandable why the criticism has been leveled generally as that same sector of jazz has very much tried to promote itself as an orthodoxy with claims such as "you MUST learn THIS style as your vocabulary". Indeed a few have successfully gone beyond and left behind playing the typical mainstream/straight ahead standard playing cloister. Unfortunately the majority have not.

What we play and enjoy is up to us. For those who love playing standards and trying to play as technically advanced as possible I hope you have fun on your journey. However it should be obvious to the tens of thousands of jazz performance graduates that they have no prospect of playing this sort of music as a full time professional. The reasons are many, but could boil down to a simple truth. If you are a professional musician your job is to be an entertainer. There is precious little thought in the Jazz (being referred to) about communicating to an audience. It's about impressing them with technical prowess. That type of jazz player wants to TAKE praise. Audiences want to be entertained. This is not a good match!

I just sincerely hope that those thousands of jazz graduates who are now trying to make a living teaching music keep in mind that they may wish to teach in a way that encourages their students to be on a more open path. Repeating a failed paradigm should not be an option.
 

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After reading a few more comments I thought I'd once again dip the toe...

While comments like "appreciation of jazz would be better if people were more educated to understand...blah, blah blah", may be slightly true, but miss the bigger picture. There are several inescapable truths:
1. Music and the arts are like fashion. They change over time and do not stand still. Reflecting on a past fashion can be a curiosity, but it won't be "popular" with the majority.
2. When an art form/music is based on an ego showing off their technical abilities it has a very limited audience. A performer who is just trying to impress is TAKING from their audience. A good/great performer GIVES to their audience. Even in Rock music the 5 minute ego guitar solo is a thing of the past.
3. Trying to play the music of a dead sax hero and in their style may be OK (for a short while for learning purposes), but is otherwise just as lame as any other "tribute" player. When the player has been dead for more than 50 years it doesn't even have tribute relevance.
4. If the jazz that's being referred is based on "standards", then there is another layer of obscurity. In the 1950s/60s jazz players were playing variations on tunes that everybody from that time knew. So there was that critical recognition of the tune which gave the variations relevance and a reference point. For 95% of today's public that reference doesn't exist.

Here's a question that I think is relevant (no answers required): Before you started playing sax did you listen to Jazz? I suspect that if most of you are honest you'd recognize that you didn't. The appreciation came through being taught/exposed. No doubt that players from earlier times were pioneers and some truly great musicians, so there is a lot to admire. For sure you should play whatever you like but recognize you're the one out of phase. The music world doesn't want to hear you bleat about not having an audience or that the public should be educated to appreciate you. .

I've heard a non logical comparison saying that 'Classical" music retains an audience so jazz should have a similar following. The obvious is that one is composed and the musicians faithfully recreate the music. Classical music has a better reach into the present than 1950s/60s jazz. Go see a movie or play a video game. Hear any jazz? Nope it's mostly Classical. The music sets a mood or tells a story. Jazz from the 1950s/60s is about the musician, and less about the emotions and experience of an audience. It was (supposedly) intellectual and yet mostly based in smoky bars and clubs where few people stopped talking. What jazz-o-files mostly listen to are studio recordings, whereas jazz was more of a live performance. Lots of live recordings exist and it's easy to hear that the audience was certainly not hanging off every clever note played...they were talking, hustling sex, drinking and smoking...sorry to say I was there and doing all of that myself. Stage/auditorium performances happened, where everybody just sat and listened, but they were rare.
 

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How many of the people commenting on the death of jazz have ever made a living playing music? Not just jazz, any kind of music? The thoughts of dilettantes and hobbyists have no real significance in any discussion of art. Some people devote their lives to things with no consideration for fame or fortune. More power to them.
Good point! However I bet that there are people studying sax and wishing to have a go at being a professional. If that's the case, it is relevant as there is little/no demand for jazz players. Yet there are opportunities in playing other types of music. For instance I play with DJs. Also in a Django style band (good for dancing which jazz isn't). Also in a backing band for open mike nights at a club. Dance workshops, Rock, Reggae, Blues, etc. Everything I play is improvised but none of it an a "standards" jazz style. The music comes first and making that work. No place for ego soloists. I read music, but in all of these instances nobody comes up with a part written in Eb or Bb or a chart. I'm expected to hear the music and play a part in making it sound good.

I'm sure there are others like me who see the opportunities and take them. If you're a young budding sax player who has primarily studied Classical or Jazz playing how are you going to go at joining a pop band where you are expected to come up with your own parts?

This goes back to what people are learning, which is seldom a good primer for playing an of today's music. Think about this: The clarinet was a very well represented pop instrument up to the 1950s. However it tied itself to big band music and died with it. Look around this site and others that e similar. They are a pretty accurate representation of what sax players play and study. It's 90%+ standards type jazz.

It's ultimately up to each player to find their way. However we are what we play. 10 years or more of playing cut and paste jazz riffs and arpeggios isn't going to help. I'd like to see today's young players at least given a fair chance. Having a broader education in styles of music would certainly help instead of the failed orthodoxy that's all too common.
 
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