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).


On The Pleasure of Overhearing One’s Neighbors

As I write this, I should be doing something more productive, socio-economic wise. I’m sitting in one of the generously comfortable Aeron chairs at the New York Library for the Performing Arts, listening to someone else’s music . . . I had come to do a number of things; escape from my unheated apartment (more Bohemian than I need right now), make some sounds, read some ‘professional literature,’ and continuing delving into the iPhone SDK.

That last is on my desktop, and after looking into a few paragraphs of code, I felt I needed a little distraction. I have only a small selection of rather specialized music on my laptop, so I thought I’d check out an intriguing shared library, from some generous spirit within 50 or so feet of me, labelled ‘classical music.’ Oh . . . joy.

I don’t know who this person is, but what a library! Where to begin? Right now, I’m listening to Willem Mengleberg’s impassioned, devastating account of the Tchiakovsky “Pathetique” Symphony (I think this is the disc) and manfully trying to resist the temptation to skip over to Andriessen, Brahms, multiple Bruckner symphonies . . . look at all that Boulez! Mahler . . . Rameau! So much Stravinsky and Varese . . . is that the complete works of Webern?!

Who is my phantom DJ, my secret sharer? There’s no way to tell, and I’m not going to try, but I’m intrigued by the kind of person who has this library. With the multiple versions of many symphonies, led by conductors like Mengleberg, Sanderling, Celibadache and Gunter Wand, I think it’s either a scholar or a conducting student from Juilliard. This is very much like what I love about radio, a resource that presents itself for passive sharing, that is absolutely generous to those who take the step to seek it out and tune it in. In at least some small niche, there is a soul mate out there. Just . . . are they leaving?!