“Jazz works because it reflects life better than any other music form.”
Our Take: Jazz Roars
In a recent article in the New York Times, Alan Scherstuhl wrote: “There’s a funny thing about jazz; it keeps roaring back to life.” A few days ago, I watched a clip from Saturday Night Live that featured both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone taking “tongue-in-cheek” credit for saving jazz in their acclaimed movie La La Land. How many articles have you read in the past few years that address the topic of “saving” jazz? I guess the concern is that jazz will become extinct or be relegated to a marginal sliver of the listening public.
The current pandemic and its resulting closures of jazz clubs, which are probably the most crowded and intimate entertainment venues in the world, have caused the topic of the vitality of jazz to be on the minds of all of us. New York is the bellwether of live jazz and the clubs there are particularly vulnerable. With sky-high rents, as well as other New York City-sized expenses, holding on during these times is a frightful undertaking. In the world of jazz clubs, social distancing is tantamount to being closed. Like a lot of other businesses that rely upon drawing a crowd, therapeutics and vaccines cannot arrive fast enough.
But is “jazz” at risk? The future of the music itself, that is. We have gone down this road before. So much of the discussion hinges upon what do you mean by “jazz”? Or, what is your metric for measuring success? Let’s try not to overthink this too much.
“Jazz works because it reflects life better than any other music form.”
The music of my youth was 50s Rock ‘n’ Roll, followed by the British Invasion, Motown and Hard Rock. Then we had 80s music and Disco. Somewhere in that mix, Country music took on a new phase and other subsets of music popped up from time to time. Please note that the foregoing may be the least accurate or insightful outline of music’s evolution since 1950 ever offered, but it is sufficient for where I would like to take this discussion. That being, most, if not all, of these music formats do not exist today, or, if they do, they have taken on the adjective “Classic.” Doing so is the clear sign that this music form is being played for the sole purpose of placating listeners hoping to relive certain portions of their lives.
Case in point, I can go a long time listening solely to Classic R&B. I can never have too much Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson, Aretha Franklin or Smokey Robinson. The Four Tops, The Drifters and The Temptations get the job done for me as well. As an aside, The Supremes were never my go-to sound and my appetite for funk was very limited as well. The message here is that this music is still around because it is great music and there are a large number of folks still on the planet who love it.
In some respects, jazz is no different and, in other respects, jazz is very different. It is similar in that many fans love jazz because it was the music of their youth. Doing the math on that idea, the number of folks in that category is waning. Yet the love of jazz, both in terms of new musicians and new audiences, is growing. Jazz has transcended time more successfully than any other music form. Classical music? How many people can hum a bar from Bach? Not nearly as many as those who can recall the sounds of Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong.
The direction of music in this world is hard to predict. Once upon a time there were only 4 or 5 TV channels and one Top 40 station for the whole of music. Those days are over. Our individual likes, interests and niches rule the roost. Success is defined as having a loyal and meaningful following. Not only is universal appeal difficult to achieve, it is probably a poor objective. It often results in watered down pablum or worse. Passion is the watchword these days. And, of course, where there is passion in favor of something, there is likely to be a passionate throng in opposition. As proof of this hypothesis, I offer two words: Justin Bieber.
Quickly back to jazz. Through all of this, jazz continues, both in terms of bebop, hard bop, cool jazz, smooth jazz, etc. Music that is predominantly instrumental, that promotes improvisation and reflects the expressions of a band working together, back and forth, call and response, and sharing of the bandstand. Jazz works because it reflects life better than any other music form. If you have something to say, here is your forum. If what you have to say is meaningful, you will be heard. But your voice is not the only voice. There must be room for others.
After all, there is a funny thing about jazz … it keeps roaring back to life.
Our Take is written by Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director of The Jazz Cruise, The Smooth Jazz Cruise, Blue Note at Sea and the Jazz In Vegas series. Feel free to express your views or pose questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How Does a ‘Solid Friday’ Sound?
Like Boney James Live in Your Living Room!
As Boney James says, a SOLID relationship is when someone has your back 100 percent and you’ve got their back in return. That’s exactly how we sum up our relationship with the 4-time Grammy nominee who’s been co-hosting The Smooth Jazz Cruise since 2013.
As a person and musician, Boney is most definitely solid. He is one of the most beloved and respected smooth jazz stars in the world and he continues to define and lead the way. We are proud he is a host of The Smooth Jazz Cruise and we are excited to present his weekly online show — Solid Friday on Facebook Live.
We had a great time with Boney and thousands of his fans last night, all enjoying his amazing sax sound, including new songs from his recent release, SOLID, and wonderful conversation to match. If you missed the show, click here to watch all the fun and we hope you join us live for Boney’s next online show at 3 p.m. PST / 6 p.m. EST on Friday, July 31.
New Podcast: Episode 50 With
David Sanborn & Alonzo Bodden
Entertainment Cruise Productions has a long and beautiful relationship with saxophonist David Sanborn. Partially, it’s because David has been an instrumental performer on all of our jazz cruises. It’s also because David has such a warm and welcoming persona, perfectly suited to bring together musicians on the stage and fans in the audience. Then there’s his distinctive and influential sound on the alto sax, which has been a ubiquitous presence in American popular music.
In addition to hosting the popular Night Music late-night shows on Blue Note at Sea earlier this year, Sanborn also sat down with our comedian-in-residence, Alonzo Bodden, for a wonderful conversation about his life and music – from his childhood growing up in St. Louis to his time as the first-call sax soloist on pop records to his career playing his unique brand of soul jazz.
This conversation marks the 50th episode of our Jazz Cruise Conversations podcast series, featuring fascinating interviews with the biggest stars from every corner of the jazz world. You can listen to every episode wherever you get your podcasts, including iTunes and Spotify.
SFJAZZ continues its five-part celebration of legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter this Friday night with an online show featuring Branford Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Danilo Pérez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade. This is an exclusive one-time-only broadcast of a 2019 all-star tribute concert that took place at the SFJAZZ Center.
Tune in at 5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. PT on Friday, July 31, by becoming an SFJAZZ Digital Member, starting at $5 per month. All donations during this concert go directly to Wayne Shorter for his ongoing medical needs.
Double Dealin’ With
Randy Brecker & Eric Marienthal!
Randy Brecker and Eric Marienthal, two of our favorite musicians and integral pieces of our jazz cruises, have teamed up on a new album, and you can listen to the title track right now by clicking here! All 10 original compositions that make up Double Dealin’ will be released on September 11.
Speaking of Double Dealin’ … we look forward to seeing the outstanding trumpeter and sensational saxophonist live in Las Vegas in 2021. You can catch Randy at Jazz: Live In Las Vegas (February 21-26, 2021) and Eric at The Smooth Jazz Cruise: Live In Las Vegas (February 28 – March 5, 2021), both at the fabulous Encore Resort.
Don’t Miss the Hottest Deal in Town!
We knew that Jazz: Live In Las Vegas and The Smooth Jazz Cruise: Live In Las Vegas would be popular, but we did not anticipate the level of interest we have experienced thus far. Guests have heeded our suggestion to BOOK NOW with the understanding that your deposits are fully refundable once we know what the health and safety circumstances will be at that time.
Take a moment and check it out.
These concerts may be the first major live events of 2021!