Last Friday Street Beat Brass appeared at Greenwich Village food/music spot Choga (screenshot pic above). Our next public gig is at a Lower East Side rock club Rockwood Music Hall. That happens at 11:45pm on Friday, January 2nd, 2015. It’s a great intimate music space in a fun part of town for nightlife. Even better, admission is free ($10 suggested donation). View map. More details at www.facebook.com/events/756668274370458/.
Interesting article by Daniel Wakin of the NY Times about the NY Philharmonic’s latest developments. I’m interested in this b/c I look at my own Jazz ensemble like a symphony orchestra, as far as its function in society as an artistic institution. The article raises an issue all-too-often on my mind: the “uncertainty over the role of orchestras in our society”.
Rather than just complain about this situation though, I’m looking for a new meaningful role for the orchestra/Jazz band/musician/live music/art/etc. to fill. Even though live music is being rapidly replaced by DJs and pre-recorded music, it’s not time to melt down our musical instruments into scrap metal. I believe there will always be a need for live music, even though the role of the music itself may change to parallel the changes in the world. (…Think about sailing, which until a couple centuries ago used to be the fastest, most advanced means of travel available. The advent of much faster motorized ships did not signal the end of sailing; rather, many people now sail for sport, recreation, or to learn a skill, etc.).
Wakin writes that some orchestra executives believe “fundamentally… that they must make their ensembles more relevant to the community”. I think that’s a good start. Emphasizing education “that has been draining out of school systems” is also smart, but I wouldn’t go as far as the Detroit Symphony may in changing their players’ job descriptions. Other new practices like incorporating YouTube, social events, etc. show that boards of directors are willing to try new approaches. Particularly the role of cultural/diplomatic ambassador, as the NY Phil played in recently touring North Korea, is something that should be a bigger part of artistic institutions. I’ll keep researching and brainstorming to find more bold and creative contexts where using the (Jazz) orchestra is the best (or only) logical choice.
I’m psyched to see the coverage my collaborators Linda Oh and Darcy Argue (Bassist and Producer, respectively, on my forthcoming album) got in the NY Times article about the Winter Jazz Fest:
Speaking of the NY Times, here’s an interesting big-picture look by Jon Pareles of the music industry through the last decade, and a look at where it might be headed.
“…For artists of all kinds (with musicians on the front lines) a 21st-century habitat of possibilities and pressures is taking shape — one that demands skills their predecessors forgot or never needed. The art they make can be created, as well as disseminated, faster and more cheaply. But it will also face exponentially more rivals for attention, and many more temptations toward superficiality and sellouts…”
Although the situation is pretty daunting, it’s actually exciting to think that if we’re creative enough with our business strategies as we are with our music, maybe artists can find a way to survive or even thrive in this changing industry. JF