Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You may need a new mouthpiece

A late follow-up on the end of the IAJE as we know it- last month's Downbeat (with Return to Forever on the cover- yikes!) has a two page article that summarizes a lot of what kicked around the web, and adds some interesting info and interviews. Only half the article appears online, though the web version adds the details of the organizations financials from '00 to '06- it's worth the read, and then you can find out who won the Critics' Poll, yippee! I came away with two distinct lines of thought:

I have little doubt that the stronger state organizations will thrive (the New Jersey chapter posted its letter to membership online, and I have a feeling the sentiment there is shared by a lot of states.) And in talking to a couple of high school educators I work with, I don't see the collapse impacting work in the classroom in the short term. However, there are long term initiatives and programs that an organization like IAJE can create (think the "Jazz Month" it helped coordinate with the Smithsonian) that are for now abandoned. I see this more as an opportunity for new voices to come forward than as a great loss.

And while financial mismanagement lies at the heart of the IAJE's demise, the intellectual mismanagement of jazz education is an issue as well. (Darcy talks about this in his New Music Box piece, and in the follow up discussion on his blog.) I've already ranted on this enough, but if new music ensembles and new concert approaches can rise from conservatories to play Reich and Carter and student composers, I don't think it's too much to ask for the same from jazz programs...

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