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Discussion Starter #1
I know there are LOTS of Big Bands in existence, professional and amateur.
But in my local view, there is not much awareness of Big Bands nor participation by the general pubic.

What can we do about that?
 

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We had the swing revival of the 1990s and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe is still touring. People just want to dance to something with a bigger beat than the Big Bands could provide.
 

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What do you mean by "big band style"? Do you mean original big-bands like Tiny Parham, King Oliver's Dixie Syncopators, or Fletcher Henderson's band? Or do you mean swing-era bands like Glenn Miller, the Dorseys', Goodman, Shaw? Or do you mean the many current big bands playing modern charts including most high school "jazz bands"?

For the last few years, the Glenn Miller Orchestra includes my town (Santa Clarita, CA) on its world-wide tour. They pack the place when they play here. The Count Basie Orchestra came though maybe two years ago with a similar result. All five of our local high schools have big bands playing jazz charts.

I'm not claiming that big-band music is leading the way, but whichever style of big band music you are discussing, there are bands playing that music and folks who pay to hear it. DAVE
 

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in the NL big bands are very active and they have essentially taken a large share of the community bands scene. They essentially serve the purpose to provide a musical opportunity for playing to those who play and used to play in the community marching bands which were everywhere in the country. The repertoire is also more modern including even pop music than the marching band one and that has a certain appeal.

Many have had their first introduction to the Jazz through a big band.

Often times they are spin-offs of one such marching band. All major companies and institutions in the country have a big band and or a marching band or both. The decline of the marching band has been only partly absorbed by these big bands.

Having said this, I play often in a place where lots of big bands perform. The public seems to be mostly the family of the various members when there is a a big band they normally occupy the entire parking facilities and the family of the player comes only at the time whn the big band plays and they leave immediately after they are done (despite the jam session which continues).

The budget cuts of many companies and councils have left the big bands members to have to fend for themselves. Band Directors are either volunteers or they are paid by the band members. When performing they get pais a very limited nominal fee because few can afford really “Paying “ such a large ensemble.

Fees normally don’t even cover the gas expenses. If they are lucky they may get free drinks. There aren’t too many concerts (unless a very very important big band is playing ) where the public attending a big band concert is actually paying for it but of course they do exist.



 

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there are a few “ big bands” which do get a lot of paying public at their concerts

Konrad Koselleck


New Cool Collective

 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all the comments and for the videos.
 

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As far as lack of awareness on the part of the general public, one could make the same arguments about other art forms and for classical chamber and orchestral music. One concern that I often have is that here in the US, other than fairly rare programs on PBS, there is virtually no visibility of many forms of the arts for much of the public. I am amazed to think that Bernstein was broadcast on CBS from 1958-72 with the young person's concerts. There was other programming for jazz, theater, dance, etc in the 50s and early 60s as well. I don't think I can recall seeing any arts programming on any of the major networks (or any most any other channel for that matter) any time in recent years. I realize that it is all popularity and financially driven. At the same time there is no chance for popularity when there is no visibility. It seems that if Beyonce blows her nose it is national news, yet a great jazz artist would have to light themselves on fire and leap off a building to get any airtime.

I am not sure what the solutions might be other than to keep trying to perform, support the arts and educate new generations of players to the great music that is out there.
 

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Jazz Education in the public schools has made great strides in the past 20 years not only in the number of students participating, but in terms of quality as well. Not only are the young people who play in jazz ensembles being exposed to this style of music, their parents and relatives who attend the concerts are as well. This is one way that an audience for "big band jazz" is being created and perpetuated. In Salt Lake City, Utah there is a program called "Excellence in the Community" that is privately funded that puts on regular concerts featuring local big bands and other groups. These concerts are well attended, and attendees are encouraged to dance to the music if they choose. There is even 1/2 hour of dance instruction prior to the beginning of each concert.
 

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Jazz is only dead to people who don't accept that time changes all things.
Amen. There's actually a lot happening with big bands in recent years, enough so that the NY Times wrote a feature story on the resurgence. (Link below). Big bands aren't much of a factor in the commercial marketplace for fairly obvious reasons: the logistics and expenses of getting 20 people on stage are what they are. But the musical possibilities are so so interesting that a lot of talented people are doing it anyway. Of course, the music that's being made now is going to disappoint audiences that expect Glen Miller, but whaddayagonnado?

NY Times story: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/31/arts/music/jazz-big-band-revival.html
 

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As long as Big Band's play it's not done or over!

Here in NL you won't find them in the top whatever hit lists, but I still see enough concerts from professional and amateur Big Bands on the programs of bigger and/or smaller festivals. I'm first tenor in a good amateur Big Band and we changed our concept a bit, which still gives us enough opportunity to find (payed) gigs. We often play during street events in big cities here in NL, but also have more concert or jazz alike concerts.

The change of concept is this: be able to play a wide variety of styles, play also more modern or popular songs in non-Jazz styles (songs that are easy recognized by people), engage with other bands and/or (professional) vocalists that want to do something with a Big Band for some gigs, but don't have the money or level to do it with a fully professional Big Band (that would become too expensive). I'm not always in favour of those things, because I prefer to play the old Big Band classics with more solo space for instrumentalists above being an instrumental background band for vocalists, but the new concepts brings us more concerts and our sets always are a mixture of 'real' Big Band stuff and newer things.
 
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