Dear Purple Cabbage,
I read your article on “Keeping the Local Toronto Jazz Scene Alive”, and I liked how you summed up some of the issues regarding representation on the Toronto jazz scene. [scroll down to read the full original article]
Aside from what you already mentioned in the article, ideas for increasing representation are vast, and it seems to me that one direction that many are suggesting (including your interviewee, Mr. Bellamy) has to do with the development of a centralized authority to coordinate Jazz efforts in the city – perhaps along the lines of New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center.
This idea, however, strikes me as something that makes Jazz a casualty in need of salvation. To quote Miles Davis, ”I never thought Jazz was meant to be a museum piece like other dead things once considered artistic”. Jazz is an art form embracing of change and based around innovation, perhaps unlike what Classical music has become – a set canon within which artists have a very limited palette of experimentation and innovation. With such malleable characteristics, it is surprising that in some ways, Jazz can’t keep up with the times.
Jazz shouldn’t need a donor financial base to flourish, but should be able to EARN its keep alongside other new and currently popular musics. Jazz is not dated enough, nor has the kind of mentality that should make it a charity case.
Having said this, I am also not suggesting an ultra-Conservative, every man for himself regime here. A Jazz organization to contribute to Toronto jazz culture is a great idea (in fact the more the better!), but let’s not aim to rely on some institution to save jazz in this city.
I don’t think Toronto NEEDS a centralized jazz authority. Perhaps it could make use of a couple. What Toronto NEEDS is a stronger and more devoted community aimed at developing and spreading the music to new listeners. And this should not be the responsibility of a centralized institution, but it should be a responsibility shared among all the musicians who are part of the current scene.
Jazz at its best happens in the clubs. We need to focus on getting these clubs packed with listeners and develop a larger, devoted audience that will spur the opening of more clubs.
Thanks for hopefully reading, and looking forward to future articles,
- Anonymous Toronto Jazz Musician