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Interesting long article w/pics about the new jazz scene in NYC.

72.76.72.24

Posted on March 18, 2022 at 08:06:37
Rick W
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A lot going on, probably more than mentioned in this NYT article.

 

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Where Jazz Lives Now OR..., posted on March 18, 2022 at 08:42:26
musetap
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Jazz is Alive in Places that DON'T Smell Funny?

Like too many jazz joints used to. Even The Jazz Workshop, when it was
briefly resurrected in the 80's smelled funny/bad like too many joints
that are basically a bar with music and all the odors a bar produces.

Was just going to post that well written, informative and ALIVE piece.

A bright, vivid, alive, POSITIVE scene it seems.


"Once this was all Black Plasma and Imagination"-Michael McClure



 

RE: Where Jazz Lives Now OR..., posted on March 19, 2022 at 13:57:47
Cpwill
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Giovanni Russonello is an excellent writer, especially when the topic is Jazz, and a former programmer at WPFW in DC.
"One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you're into jazz." - Lou Reed

Cpwill

 

Spoike Wilner of Smalls responds, posted on March 20, 2022 at 15:45:57
Cpwill
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FYI,

The SmallsLIVE Newsletter
3/20/2022

Dear Friends:

I read the recent New York Times article called "Where Jazz Lives Now" (CLICK HERE) and want to congratulate Melanie Charles, Ray Angry, Isaiah Collier, Jonathan Michel, Joel Ross, Kassa Overall and all the others who were recognized. All of these great musicians are my colleagues and friends and longtime associates. I also want to recognize Ilhan Ersahin, who I went to music school with way back in the day, long before he created and operated Nublu. It's fantastic when the mainstream media brings attention to wonderful musicians and music venues.

My objection to this article is this paragraph:

"AT SMALLS JAZZ Club, the storied West Village basement, purebred jazz jam sessions still stretch into the wee hours on a nightly basis, inheriting some of the infectious, insidery energy that existed in its truest form into the 1990s at clubs like Bradley's But today it's hard to argue that Smalls is the right destination for hearing the most cutting-edge sounds. And although they don't usually say it publicly, seasoned players have come to agree that the code of conduct at Smalls' jam sessions went a little flimsy after the 2018 death of Roy Hargrove. His frequent presence as an elder there had helped to keep the bar high, even as the room had come to be filled with musicians whose hands-on experience of jazz arrived mostly through "the distorted lens of formal education".

Why in such a positive article is it necessary to take this public swipe at Smalls? It's the same old tired polemic of "what is jazz?" and the idea that "electronic, cross-genre" is "cutting edge" and that acoustic jazz music is old or outdated. What's worse is the assessment of our jam sessions as "flimsy" and that the musicians who play here are simply "distortions of formal education", ie. white-boys coming from jazz school.

The problem is that just because you play a synth or create beats doesn't make you innovative any more than playing Stella By Starlight for the millionth time does. The innovation and freshness comes from within the artist and not the genre. Acoustic jazz is still innovative and young musicians are still and always finding dynamic and original ways to express through the acoustic medium. The problem always is the critics who think it necessary to callout and correct some kind of problem - that somehow Smalls is dead, but all these other little spots are ripe with innovation. Incredible bullshit. Besides the fact that Melanie, Isaiah, Jon Michel (who also runs a jam session at Smalls) are all artists who have and do perform at Smalls to great success, we also have a continuous roster of "cutting edge" musicians by anyone's standards - Jeff Watts, Tyshawn Sorrey, Ari Hoenig, David Liebman, Aaron Burnett, to name but a few - and G-d forbid I should mention the name of any "bebopper" - all of those guys are hopelessly old fashioned, I guess.

It's the same reason that a master like George Coleman gets overlooked - anyone that plays inside or references the tradition even in the most modest way is "old fashioned" and not innovative. Such blindness! It proves that most critics couldn't hear innovative music if it was right in their face. This is because they're bringing an agenda to the table - trying make their political point. The big thing they miss is that every artist's soul is unique - it's not the medium, it's the artist. The trick is to hear beyond the language they are playing and get their message. The tunes and forms we play are infinite - banal in the hands of an amateur and profound in the hands of a master. This is jazz music.

I want to add that Smalls has jam sessions seven nights a week, every week from midnight to 3AM. Each night is run by different leaders and brings in different crowds. Some sessions are going to be awful and some are going to be unbelievable. Smalls has presented live music since 1994 and continues, with Mezzrow, to present 5 bands a night, 35 bands a week. Smalls is a music machine and an unstoppable force. Has Smalls changed? Of course, it has, how could it not? Longevity in a club comes from adapting. As our environment changed, so has Smalls but our mission and vision has never wavered - we are here for the musicians, the fans and for this wonderful and profound music. We are an acoustic jazz club and unapologetically so. There is room for many, many scenes in NYC. Smalls is not dead; Smalls is vibrant and alive.

Where does "jazz live now"? - it lives at Smalls!

Regards,

Spike Wilner

Ciao,




"One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you're into jazz." - Lou Reed

Cpwill

 

Agree. I'm glad anytime jazzers/jazz joints get some pub, but negativity about Smalls was lame. , posted on March 20, 2022 at 16:18:59
Rick W
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I've heard some killer music/musicians at Smalls including former inmate David Smith's group. All original and interesting music, no standards.

 

The old and the new...., posted on March 23, 2022 at 03:29:30
andy evans
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There's a long established tradition of playing the old standards in jam sessions. Most players know most of the tunes. In its favour these kind of jam sessions bring out new talent, help create new bands and give a lot of players the chance to play in public.

On the other hand the repertoire may be regarded by contemporary audiences as stale unless standards are re-imagined.

So it's an audience thing, as jazz always is. Musicians will always turn up at jam sessions, but the crowds will go where they hear the music that they dig the most and makes them come back again and again. Could be old or new. You can't tell those that like the old tunes that they should be listening to something more up to date, and you can't expect those who demand something fresh to be satisfied with a menu of old standards.

 

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