Can Jazz Survive . . .

Bad, hectoring, scolding writing?

Seriously, this kind of article is invariably a mistake, a set of generational assertions that rely on nothing more than personal anecdote and prejudice. Are we still in awe of the supposed ‘multitasking skills’ of all generations that succeed ours? There’s no thinking, just complaining.

Jazz will survive many generations, as will classical and other non-commodified musical forms. They’ll survive better than they did before iTunes. Music is a vast storehouse of aesthetic, cultural and historical knowledge, it tells us how people think, feel and imagine. A piece of music is full of information. With iTunes, music collecting has been transferred to a database for everyone, not just for obsessive discographers. And that database is flat, it makes no hierarchical distinctions between styles, which means that classical and jazz are not better than rock or hip-hip, but also that classical and jazz are as immediately available as hip-hop. Which means that they are right there to listen to. I’m puzzled over whether Myers actually knows what iTunes is, as his assertion that it is primarily desktop and work oriented is demolished by each and every iPod and iPhone that Apple has sold. How many millions is that now?

As for how a certain generation listens, Myers should sit down and catch his breath. Yes, jazz rewards attentive listening, so does Mahler. I listen to both. I also listen to both in the background without paying them constant, direct attention. So, what generation do I belong to? Well, I belong to the generation of music lovers, which is every generation. We who care about jazz should be glad that “Generation F” find it streaming through their ear buds (h/t Patrick Jarenwattananon).



Author: gtra1n

I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.