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--- Mar 24 1999 Go to category
Subject: State of Jazz
Category: General Questions
From: Jazz Online (sf,ca)

Given all of the press attention which has been paid to the musical politics of the Jazz at Lincoln Center program as of late, I'm wondering what your thoughts are about the state of the art, the possibilities of keeping a touring band together, and whether there are any young players out there whom you regard as innovative thinkers.

Pat’s Answer:

i think it's a strange but interesting time right now in jazz. there are more really solid new musicians right now than there's been in a long time, and a few of them, joshua redman, christian mcbride, brad meldahl, peter bernstein, greg hutchinson, branford marsalis, kenny garrett, brian blade, seamus blake, chris potter, richie patterson, jonathan josephs etc. are really dealing with music at a high level- emotionally, spiritwise and technically. and with some, specially soulful kinds of individuality too.

as far as musical politics go, it seems there's always gonna be people whose reps are gonna be more about what they say and what people "write" about them than what they actually do and who are unfortunately gonna sometimes use intimidation as a tool for self promotion. personally, i really only care about the music itself, the hype that surrounds it about who's supposed to be "the next ellington" or "the greatest since _____" has always been b.s and will always be b.s. the music ALWAYS speaks for itself and often it can take 20 or 30 years for the real truth to come out. it's sometimes only with that kind of perspective that we can see what the real deal is.. but, again in my opinion, there has always a more than necessary kind of "people-magazine-quotient" in jazz. by that, i mean gossipy, showbizzy , in-fighting kinds of stuff. when i look at what a small part of the music "industry" pie we all share, it's a drag that there is so much petty silliness, and it's almost always about egos, too. the funny thing is when you get a bunch of jazz guys together, even if they're from wildly dissimilar branches of the tree, they usually get along really well. i remember a 10 hour bus ride in finland one summer that i was playing with gary burton. packed onto this one bus was the entire woody herman "herd", the chuck mangione quartet, the art ensemble of chicago, some finnish dixieland guys and gary's quintet. at first, everyone kind of went to their own little area and hung with their own selves, but after an hour or two everyone was hanging and discussing music and records, etc.etc. it was great and pretty much what i've noticed is that most guys have their own "musical/political" bent but finally most everyone digs the idea of people playing the music that they love. in that sense it is a very "familial" thing, and after all is said and done i think most people would even fight for the right of their "brothers" to play the way they play no matter what they say in public or in interviews etc.

keeping a band together in this era is hard for everyone, because of the financial thing. the costs of going on the road now are just incredible. even for me, who is supposed to be someone successful etc., it's very rough out there these days. the worst part is that there are, ironically, fewer playing opportunities for the kind of "mid-level" jazz guys than there are for either newcomers or the real established guys. this to me is totally fucked up cause that's the heart of the zone where the apprenticeship system that has served jazz so well used to be centered. we have guys now who are leaders whose entire sideman experience was to play with art blakey for a year or so. hell, there are guys who basically never played as a regular sideman for anyone who get record deals and stuff, which kind of seems unbelievable to me. but i don't really know who to blame for this, it's just kind of the way it's gone.