Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Does there need to be antipathy/tribalism in Jazz?

SESSION: Does there need to be antipathy/tribalism in Jazz?

Convener(s): Sophie

Participants: Beverley, Orla, Sophie, Pete, Jackie, Keith, Alice, Peter….sorry I may have forgotten some

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

I called this session because I encounter a lot of negativity between musicians who consider themselves to be part of one genre within jazz rather than another. There seems to me to be a big divide between classical/more conservative approaches and innovatory approaches, with a lot of bitterness directed from those who aren’t playing ‘new’ music to those that are. I think this is a symptom of the fact that there is a lot of fighting over rather small beans, and that people perceive that there is more hype/investment in ‘new’.

There was general discussion over the funding issue. Comparing Europe with the UK….6 radio stations playing jazz in France, for example, and a more ‘respectful’ audience in Germany than in the UK: there was suggestion of a more positive experience of performing in Germany, and of UK musicians' need to ‘protect their patch', which might inhibit them from being as welcoming as they would like to be with musicians they don’t know, thus making an insular vibe, possibly inhibiting the growth of
artistic collaboration, and gigs and audiences.

Lack of funding influencing programming policies….bands that are invested in financially will get gigs.

Intense competition

We started talking about lack of audiences for Jazz, and the relationship between that and people’s exposure to music in education…most experiences of learning instruments is of learning classical music to the exclusion of other styles.

Jazz in London won’t list trad jazz.

LJF – there was no trad jazz in the programme
- there was massive diversity in the programme

Could programming be more mixed – the classical approach of having well known repertoire in the same concert to new pieces. This approach might work in getting different groups playing on the same bill who wouldn’t otherwise, and lead to getting audiences to try something other than what they know they like.

Jackie – classical music may be better funded but has similar problems.

Discussion about tribalism and the need to identify with a certain thing.

Keith’s experiences of playing in Asia to audiences who weren’t expecting to hear jazz, but being incredibly positive in their response because of some culture around the attitude of ‘wanting’ to enjoy and engage with the performer who is comfortable doing what they’re doing.

Jackie: People spend their lives working in a narrow field feel like if someone criticizes their field, they’re criticizing their life.

Folk: same tribalism as in jazz, between traditional, modern, rock influenced…with audiences walking out and complaining if the music is not what they know they already like.

British Jazz Festivals
- mostly ticketed for each gig rather than 1 ticket for whole festival.
- Free stages enable people to go and see bands etc.

Sexist environment – women (singers?) not feeling as if they’re taken seriously by male instrumentalists.

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