Thursday, April 26, 2007

Boston Jazz Week

I mentioned in the posts leading up to my gig that I was proud to be part of Boston Jazz Week, which runs through Sunday (which is, not coincidentally, Duke Ellington's birthday) The event is presented by JazzBoston, a new (only a year old) advocacy group for jazz in Boston (duh). For those interested in the Boston scene, their website is an invaluable resource for information about gigs, musicians and venues. Fuller articles about Jazz Week appeared in the Globe and Pheonix.

Jazz Week is not a new idea- a now defunct advocacy group led by trumpeter and big band leader Mark Harvey pioneered it more than twenty years ago. (Mark also appeared on local jazz radio to pump up the week.) And some good things are coming from it- there is a week of jazz at the main Borders in town, and several nice panels and family-type events. Mostly, though (and this is not a critique) it is a normal week of gigs in Boston, with more publicity.

All in all, I think this is a very good thing- while it is mostly just a reflection of a typical, active week in Boston, it got us extra press. And some of the extra events, especially the family oriented stuff, was great, interesting programming. Looking at the programming, I realized in the recent conversations about the problems of jazz education, we missed the obvious- young people are more likely to get excited about the music if they see it in it's "natural habitat". I remember how much more memorable "young people's concerts" at Symphony Hall and trips to the Regattabar were than stuff my school presented. Hopefully at least a few kids had a good experience this week.

As has been blogged about here and elsewhere, these are not good times to be a working musician in Boston, of any stripe really, but especially of the "jazz etc" variety. (I was going to turn this into a long bitch on the subject, but thought better of it.) My primary critique of JazzWeek (besides, "why in the hell is Max Weinberg the headliner on your big opening night?" WTF) is that in "celebrating" the vitality of the local scene, there is no attempt to addres its shortcomings. Or do much to aim at the collegiates who make up the backbone of the music audience here. Maybe next year targeting the Paradise Lounge or he Middle East (which has had jazz in the past) should be a priority. I hope.

Addendum: I was interviewed for an article the BU Free Press wrote about Jazz Week, and parts of it made the cut. (naturally, out of context. I should probably have said "headier", rather than "more intellectual". But that's another post...)

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