From: Steve Catanzaro (stevencatanzaro@sprintmail.com)
Date: Thu Mar 07 2002 - 16:46:56 CET

  • Next message: icehouse@redshift.com: "Interview tonight"

    Did you ever notice that the marketing gurus of the modern age, at least here in America, are obsessed with youth?

    The music business, even jazz, is not immune. When Wynton Marsalis came along in the mid '80's, he ushered in the era of "young lions." Following on his heels came artists like Marcus Roberts, Joshua Redman, etc...

    Most of these guys were marketed as being well connected "to the tradition." Top marketing dollars (in jazz terms, such as they are) were put behind them, they adopted that '50's Miles Davis - Brooks Brothers look, and their names and images began popping up in Downbeat, the A&E and Bravo networks, even terminally unhip Time Magazine.

    All well and good for the "young lions" and they are no doubt deserving of all the praise and recognition they got. Except that it came at the expense of those not merely "connected" to the tradition; but those who WERE the tradition.

    Suddenly, artists like Ron Carter, Phil Woods, and the like were passe. You either had to be a "young" guy doing "old" music, like Wynton, or an "old" guy doing "young" music, i.e., Miles Davis.

    Now, there's no doubt that a lot of musicians can accomplish alot of things in a short time span. Mozart, Gershwin, Schubert, Chopin, Charlie Parker and Jaco were all dead before they reached 40.

    However, people mature at different times. For instance, Brahms did not finish his first symphony till he was 40. Miles was in his early 40's when he made Bitches Brew. Monk made some of his best sounds in his 50's.

    Which leads me to the following point; how does the nu jazz community deal with questions of age? Are we going to follow the major labels' blueprint for the destruction of jazz by declaring certain modes of expression "passe?"

    We see the Grammys; nothing but young female vocalists serving us warmed over R&B riffs, lifted right off the vinyl from Patti Labelle, Aretha Franklin, and the like.

    There are precious few pop artists that seem to move along untroubled by the pressures of the get-it-while-you're-young-marketing clock... Sade comes immediately to mind. What do you reckon will happen to neo-underground artists like Photek or Roni Size as time marches on?

    And now that acid jazz is a dirty word, (so 90's) does that mean groups like The Brand New Heavies no longer know how to play their instruments or write good songs?

    Does newer always mean better?

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Thu Mar 07 2002 - 17:23:24 CET