In addition to being a high art form, jazz is a subset of show business and part of show business is “business.”
In this interview with industry insider Matt Fripp, we talk about what goes into building a touring career: agents… festivals…club bookers…clever ways to get a great-looking video on the cheap… and how to put it all together to make it happen.
If you have a jazz friend who dreams of touring especially the European festival circuit (Matt has special expertise in this area) make sure they know about this interview.
Americans used to be so musically literate that not only was sheet music routinely sold in the lobbies of theaters, but the sheet music of a hit could sell a million, even millions, of copies.
People would take home the hits of the day and play them with friends and family at home and in public places like barbershops.
Then along came recorded music and the population as a whole shifted away from making music to consuming it.
Still the music survived and a new wave of young musicians used the new technology to usher in a golden age of performance. (Think Charlie Parker playing his Lester Young records over and over and studying them under a musical microscope.)
A few generations later, the government bureaucrats who control public education, started, in their infinite wisdom, to remove music education from the schools kicking the legs out from basic music literacy which even the poorest child once had as a birthright. (Think Louis Armstrong learning basic solfege and singing EVERY DAY in class as part of the normal curriculum for schoolchildren in early 20th century New Orleans.)
Not only is music education disappearing, but appreciation of music skill seems to be in decline.
The case can be made that today popular music is in the hands of a few studio-based producers who use software tricks like auto-tune to homogenize music and remove human skill from its creation.
From one perspective things could start to look incredibly bleak.
But thanks to musician ingenuity, there’s a light on the horizon.
In addition to schools and teachers who continue educating children in music, a new generating of artist-educators have taken to the online world to make the art and science of jazz available in a way it has never been before to anyone with an Internet connection.
Despite all the challenges, in this one corner of the world, we are truly living in a golden age of music education.
Jazz on the Tube sits down with one of the innovators to talk about the phenomenon.
– Ken McCarthy
Jazz on the Tube
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Music credit: The Jazz on the Tube podcast theme song is “Mambo Inferno” performed by The Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra conducted by Bobby Sanabria from the CD ¡Que Viva Harlem!
What do Jack Kerouac, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Joseph Papp, Leonard Bernstein, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Tito Puente and Willie Nelson all have in common?
They’ve all hung out and spent quality time with David Amram.
As part of the Village Trip Arts Festival David led a walking tour through the West Village on September 26, 2021. The previous night he was on stage with Willie Nelson at 11 PM playing an encore at the Farm Aid concert in Hartford, CT.
He’ll be turning 91 this November 17, but clearly the calendar means nothing to him.
Walking down West 10th Street now home to multi-million dollar brownstones previously a row of art galleries. One of these ground floor apartments was the art gallery that hosted the first ever known jazz-poetry performance. Someone had to do it and the two who did it were David Amram and Jack Kerouac in the 1950s.
Another Amram/Kerouac production, the 1959 film “Pull My Daisy” based on Kerouac’s never finished play “The Beat Generation.” Larry David credits the film with providing the inspiration for his own “show about nothing” – Seinfeld. (Directed by Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie.)
David has fans of all ages. Old and new friends came out for the tour.
Synchronicity: The corner restaurant across from where we ended the tour recently changed its name to “The Beatnic,” the term the news media coined to described the art-music-poetry-theater culture that thrived in the West Village in the 1950s.
Three years ago, we had the great pleasure to hook David up with a gig on opening night of the 2018 Havana Jazz Festival.
“Osage Stomp” and “Get with It” – Bob Willis and the Texas Playboys (1935)
Hezekiah Leroy Gordon “Stuff” Smith (1909-1967) – Toured Texas extensively in the ’20s
Ramblin’ – Ornette Coleman (Texas) with Charlie Haden (Missouri) and Don Cherry (Oklahoma) (1959)
As I mentioned in the interview, we were only going to be able to scratch the surface of Dave’s work on this call. One areas he’s done work in is exploring the musicality of animals. If they can recognize and make music, we may need to recalibrate how we view and treat them.
“Rain” – Elephant Orchestra. Instruments built and directed by Richard Lair and Dave Soldier in Lampang, Thailand (2006)