There’s still a debate in jazz circles about whether jazz is dying. I just wanted to flag the two most awesome consecutive paragraphs I’ve ever read on this debate, from an interview with the excellent pianist Vijay Iyer:
“I think sounding a death knell for jazz is a marketing tactic. It doesn’t actually have any connection to reality. There’s a huge number of people in this area of music. In fact, more and more everyday– people coming out of these education programs and discovering it in all sorts of new ways. There’s a global circuit for the music. There are people performing all the time and all over the world. There’s no sense in which it’s dying. I don’t see it dying anywhere. If anything, I see the opposite so I really honestly don’t know what people are talking about.”
Yet it is his constant awareness of his placement that allows him to objectively scope out the artistic scene he’s in and flourish as he has. “I will say the infrastructure for the music is fragile, particularly in the US. So that’s kind of the biggest problem that we have to face right now: there aren’t a whole lot of gigs to be had in the US right now and there aren’t really many places to hear or see the music that’s not New York. It’s not on many radio stations and it’s not on TV except for very few exceptions. And it’s not really performed in most of the continental US. It’s usually hard to find if you don’t live near a big city or some college campus that has some kind of substantial arts budget and also a curator who cares enough to cultivate this music. A lot of these arts presenters will have maybe two jazz concerts a year.”
So if it’s not a problem that all these “people coming out of these education programs” have no audience, then everything’s fine.