If you’ve listened to even two ‘jazz’ tunes over the course of your lifetime, you’ll understand what I’m trying to get across in this post. Simply stated, Jazz is diverse. It can’t be confined to one single genre (or sub-genre) and throughout its existence it has continually evolved. The free form surrounding jazz has in turn allowed it to change freely without restrictions as to how or where it goes. From Ragtime all the way to NeoBop, New Swing, Jazz Fusion, or whatever you want to play, you can place that under the umbrella of ‘Jazz’.
A fierce debate has divided the jazz community. What is this debate over you ask? The very concept Jazz was founded upon: The ability to play what you want to play. As i’ve discussed in many posts before this, I’m a strong advocate of playing what you want to play regardless of the classification that others feel your music must meet. Music is music. While everyone in the music industry has strong opinions, I find it most disheartening that such a diverse collection of musicians can have such strong feelings as to why ‘that isn’t real jazz’ or why ‘this guy isn’t really a jazz musician.’ Because when it comes right down to it, what really makes you a true jazz musician and someone else not? Hell, if you can answer that question well then maybe i’d have to reconsider. As of today, no one has ever been able to give me a good answer yet (I’m poor and starving does not count as a good answer, although that seems to be popular one). All this talk about how you need to work for it and how if you somehow happen to make it big, you’re now sell out. I disagree with the idea that to be a real jazz musician you must be poor and starving like those legends who came before us. It’s moronic. In this day in age, there are so many opportunities to make a living with music, I find it hard to believe that anyone needs to be living in squalor. Yeah, you probably won’t get that Bentley you’ve been dreaming of but then again, if you really love music, what does it matter. You can make a living with music today, you just need to be open to other opportunities. Vary who you play with and diversify. Sure, you’d probably rather be playing with that straight-ahead group you formed, but playing sax in that DMB cover band probably pays twice as much. Congrats, you made it. You can actually make a living by playing. Why would anyone criticize success anyway? Jealousy. That’s why.