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#1487532 - 08/03/10 06:27 PM Jazz is withering away in america  
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Jeffrey Preston Offline
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Elma NY


I don't know how it is anywhere else in the world for the only country I've ever traveled to is Canada.

What I've noticed is the remarkably low interest our nation has in jazz music. I'm 18 years old, and I'm watching my generation get lost and stupefied by the electronic music flooding our radios, with thought-less lyrics.. no emotion.

Jazz is pure emotion, every member of a trio to an orchestra has an important role in captureing the feel and the sound of the song.

A computer does not posses this ability.

What's wrong here? Does anyone have any idea?

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#1487548 - 08/03/10 06:56 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: Jeffrey Preston]  
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Exalted Wombat Offline
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Don't upset yourself! Jazz is alive and well. It isn't mainstream, particularly for kids. So what? YOU listen to it, YOU play it. Tell your friends, some will listen.

#1487550 - 08/03/10 06:57 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: Exalted Wombat]  
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Get Chick Corea to dress like Lady Gaga and all will be well. smile


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#1487658 - 08/03/10 09:31 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: Exalted Wombat]  
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Originally Posted by Exalted Wombat
Don't upset yourself! Jazz is alive and well. It isn't mainstream, particularly for kids. So what? YOU listen to it, YOU play it. Tell your friends, some will listen.

Sometimes it is just a lack of exposure. My best friend has said she probably would not have ever listened to such a wide range of music if it wasn't for me constantly finding stuff and telling her "Hey, listen to this!" when we were teenagers. Twenty years later I'm still doing this to her. Of course, some people will stick with just what's familiar and have no interest going beyond their "genre comfort zone" and that's sad.


I'll figure it out eventually.
Until then you may want to keep a safe distance.
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
#1487663 - 08/03/10 09:38 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: Little_Blue_Engine]  
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I think it is linked to the general decline in music education in the US. Jazz is not accessible to people who aren't musically trained, for the most part. Huge hats made of silver cubes are, though (Lady Gaga).


charlessamuellang.com
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#1487682 - 08/03/10 10:40 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: charleslang]  
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Originally Posted by charleslang
I think it is linked to the general decline in music education in the US. Jazz is not accessible to people who aren't musically trained, for the most part. Huge hats made of silver cubes are, though (Lady Gaga).


No, it's just marketing. Kids will crowd a jazz bandstand, swooning at the instrumental solos, if you tell them to. Remember when Frank Sinatra was considered a threat to the morals of American Youth? (Well no, neither do I, but my grandmother told me about it:-) I certainly remember British cinemas being ripped up by kids watching middle-aged men play "trad", basically New Orleans revival music.

#1487766 - 08/04/10 01:55 AM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: Exalted Wombat]  
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I think we like to think that these are unique times, but it's pretty much been like this for jazz since the beginning.
Jazz music lives on the fringes of popular music. The popular music of the 20's, 30's and 40's was what we call jazz but even back then a lot of what was thought of as 'real' jazz was on the fringes--Mary Lou Williams, Elmo Hope, Lennie Tristano, Bird.

Some people would say jazz is popular today. Just look at Diana Krall, Michael Buble, Nora Jones and Kenny G. The thing is that 'real' jazz fans don't consider those artists to be playing 'real' jazz. Bird, Dizzy, Monk, Mingus, Tristano etc etc weren't popular in their day compared to the popular music of the day.

Even many of the people today who say they are jazz fans because they listen to Diana Krall, George Benson, Pat Metheny, Wynton Marsalis and Keith Jarrett's Koln concert haven't even heard of most of the real innovators of today like Brad Mehldau, Chris Potter, Dave Holland, Dave Douglas, Vijay Iyer etc.

Popular music is largely driven by a desire for mass appeal. Jazz is driven mainly by a need for honest self expression and exploration. It wouldn't really make sense for jazz to be widely popular. I demands far too much of the 'not commited' listener. Unless someone is willing to put the time and effort into training their ears and consciousness into BEING able to actually get what's going on in jazz it doesn't make much sense that they'd appreciate it enough to support it. Pop music requires less of it's listener. Push play, feel the groove, relate to the lyrics, there ya go!

Jazz to most people is like Cantonese poetry; it may sound phonetically interesting but who knows what the heck any of it means (unless of course you speak Cantonese:)

This isn't to say you can't have the best of both worlds. It's just really challenging to do with integrity. Some artists manage to do what they do with full self expression AND incorporate elements into their music that has a (relatively) mass appeal. Herbie Hancock has managed to do this by combining his 'heavy' harmonic and rhythmic approach on the piano with pop grooves and pop singers that have mass appeal. It's almost like he's 'sneaking' the jazz into a popular context.

Jazz, to me is a very meditative music. It's asks me to look within. It's rings with every cell in my body and keeps me feeling alive. I've loved this music ever since the very first time I heard it. Why doesn't everyone love it like I do? I don't know--I could speculate but why bother, it isn't going to change things. I love pepperoni, anchovies and green olives on my pizza. My wife hates all three. But she loves Jazz as much as I do. So I feel lucky:)



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#1487767 - 08/04/10 02:07 AM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: AJF]  
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I read an article about how the average listening age of jazz in the 70s were mid to late 20s and now days its more closer to 40s, which is very similar to the average listening age of classical music. The article went to talk about how jazz nowdays is pretty much considered to be art music.

Well I can say the same thing about classical music.. It really isn't dead, there are a a lot of great composers alive today but you won't know about them and think classical music is dead. The only reason I have some knowledge about that is because I sang in choir in high school and got exposures to works by Morten Lauridsen, Eric Whitecare..etc.

#1487838 - 08/04/10 07:06 AM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: AJF]  
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Originally Posted by AJF
Popular music is largely driven by a desire for mass appeal. Jazz is driven mainly by a need for honest self expression and exploration. It wouldn't really make sense for jazz to be widely popular. I demands far too much of the 'not commited' listener. Unless someone is willing to put the time and effort into training their ears and consciousness into BEING able to actually get what's going on in jazz it doesn't make much sense that they'd appreciate it enough to support it. Pop music requires less of it's listener. Push play, feel the groove, relate to the lyrics, there ya go!


I'm currently reading a book of journalism by Humphrey Lyttleton (British jazz band leader, writer and broadcaster for any colonials who might be watching :-) He tells of visiting American jazz stars being given a cool reception by diehard British fans because they put on the sort of entertainment-slanted show that pleased mass audiences in the US, they just didn't take it SERIOUSLY!

I've been at jazz performances (or with jazz fans listening to recordings) who were only interested in the "train-spotting" aspect. The minute a track started they went into earnest discussion of line-up, who'd played with who, what colour socks the drummer was wearing... didn't listen to the music at all!

The pop guys think they're expressing themselves too, you know!

#1488143 - 08/04/10 04:26 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: Exalted Wombat]  
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What's wrong with jazz piano in the US is that the same forces that have infected
classical piano have taken hold in jazz piano, that is, the forces that want
everybody to play the same way and sound the same. When everyone sounds
the same, what's the point in listening to it anymore? Jazz and classical piano
becomes an exclusive club this way, where only people who "appreciate" the
technical "nuances" of the performance are "qualified" to listen to it. The audience
gets smaller and smaller over time like this.

#1488155 - 08/04/10 05:02 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: Gyro]  
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First of all, not everyone sounds the same. Second of all, it's not just "these days" that people are taught relatively similar techniques. There has always been a right way of playing piano. Besides, these days, we have more different music than ever to listen to in the ways of jazz and classical, because we have music from all the composers who came before, and those composing now...I don't see why you say it all sounds the same.
It's just that classical isn't the popular music like it was "back then". Mozart was like today's top 20. Now that we have so many styles of music available, it's practically impossible for every style to have extreme popularity.

#1488170 - 08/04/10 05:27 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]  
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The world of jazz has never been larger. There are so many exciting different sounding musicians around at the moment its difficult to even know where to start. I don't really go with the theory that says that jazz only appeals to trained musicians as it has been my experience that when people who know nothing about jazz see it live then they quite often like it a lot. The problem is getting them to the gig in the first place. In my opinion the media has a lot to answer for, as without mainstream exposure jazz can never be much more popular than it is now.
General musical education will help as well, and that is in a pretty sad state (in the uk at least). Many people seem to think these days that musical education is really unimportant but they are so wrong in so many ways. I am always shocked that so many people such sheltered lived that they may well have never even listened to a piece of jazz.

#1488190 - 08/04/10 06:16 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: beeboss]  
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Not around here! SF Jazz is building their own theater now.


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#1488201 - 08/04/10 06:27 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
Not around here! SF Jazz is building their own theater now.


I like the overhead view at the bottom of the page below. It looks like a shrine to the Grand Piano:

http://www.sfjazz.org/support/sfjazz_center.asp


charlessamuellang.com
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#1488223 - 08/04/10 06:59 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: charleslang]  
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Jazz will never be as popular as other forms for music because it is difficult to digest for most people. I would guess amongst jazz fans there is a larger percent of people that have direct experience with music (playing an instrument for instance) compared to other forms. You don’t have to play music, but at least it requires an analytical person to fully appreciate the level of musicianship in Jazz.

#1488235 - 08/04/10 07:14 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: VideoTiger]  
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Originally Posted by VideoTiger
Jazz will never be as popular as other forms for music because it is difficult to digest for most people. I would guess amongst jazz fans there is a larger percent of people that have direct experience with music (playing an instrument for instance) compared to other forms. You don’t have to play music, but at least it requires an analytical person to fully appreciate the level of musicianship in Jazz.


I agree with you to a point, as indicated by my earlier post which said something similar to what you say. But the posts since then have made me reconsider.

One of the things I've enjoyed most in contemporary jazz is drum solos. I think that you really don't need much training to appreciate rhythmic innovations in particular.

Harmonic innovations are maybe less accessible, but even there, there is an 'innate literacy' (to coin a term) in most humans. It's a language they know but didn't ever have to learn.

To be sure, there is much to be gained with study of rhythm, as with harmonies (and melodies, for that matter, and history, and even biographies). And indeed, for jazz the amount that is gained by this is probably proportionally higher than in the case of more popular music.


charlessamuellang.com
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#1488267 - 08/04/10 08:20 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: Gyro]  
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Originally Posted by Gyro
When everyone sounds
the same, what's the point in listening to it anymore?



Gyro, can you name even ten current jazz pianists who "sound the same"? You are either full of it and don't listen to jazz, or your ears so bad that you can't distinguish between players.

I can't think of 2 guys so alike that they are interchangeable. Keith Jarrett doesn't sound like Herbie Hancock or Bill Evans or Oscar Peterson.

Brad Mehldau, Vijar Iyer, Esbjorn Svennsen, Tord Gustavsen, Bobo Stenson, Denny Zeitlin, John Taylor, Taylor Eigsti, Aaron Parks, Marcin Wasilewski, Gerald Clayton..... these guys all have distinctive sounds.

Even Diana Krall sounds quite unique, as different as Eliane Elias.

You probably think Kenny G sounds like Branford Marsalis! And Wynton sounds COMPLETELY different from his brother.

Don't BS us with that "all jazz sounds the same" when you have shown that you don't even listen to it.





#1488282 - 08/04/10 08:37 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: Wizard of Oz]  
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Quote
You probably think Kenny G sounds like Branford Marsalis! And Wynton sounds COMPLETELY different from his brother.

The three of his brothers who perform, actually. I have a fondness for Jason's drumming, in particular.


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#1488283 - 08/04/10 08:38 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: Wizard of Oz]  
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Originally Posted by Wizard of Oz
You probably think Kenny G sounds like Branford Marsalis!

Kenny G. says...

[Linked Image]

I sound like Kenny G... Pure jazz!


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#1488287 - 08/04/10 08:42 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
Quote
You probably think Kenny G sounds like Branford Marsalis! And Wynton sounds COMPLETELY different from his brother.

The three of his brothers who perform, actually. I have a fondness for Jason's drumming, in particular.


He's with Marcus Robert's group, I should listen to them more. And don't forget the dad, Ellis, heck of a pianist himself.

#1488289 - 08/04/10 08:46 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: Wizard of Oz]  
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#1488298 - 08/04/10 08:54 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: Wizard of Oz]  
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The one I am least familiar with is Delfeayo, but I have heard all of them, including Ellis. Delfeayo use to play with Elvin Jones.

Last edited by BDB; 08/04/10 08:55 PM.

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#1488309 - 08/04/10 09:02 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: BDB]  
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I think Delfeayo concentrates more on producing than playing. Have you seen the Marsalis family special show? All the brothers played to honor Ellis' retirement. Harry Connick Jr plays too, does a duet with Ellis of Caravan.

That clip is from the show, lots of it on youtube.

#1488469 - 08/05/10 03:06 AM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: Wizard of Oz]  
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thank you AJF for the exceptionally detailed response.

I also love everyone's enthusiasm, thank you.

I just wanted to mention again that I am from America, and that to hear Jazz on the radio I have to tune into a Canadian station. I am unaware of Jazz music popularity anywhere else because I don't really know people, or experienced gigs, etc. outside of my country.

I've been to a colored jazz musicians club in Buffalo, NY recently on Broadway, and I can say that no one was my age.

#1488681 - 08/05/10 12:45 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: Wizard of Oz]  
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Originally Posted by Wizard of Oz
Originally Posted by Gyro
When everyone sounds
the same, what's the point in listening to it anymore?


...Keith Jarrett doesn't sound like Herbie Hancock or Bill Evans or Oscar Peterson.

Brad Mehldau, Vijar Iyer, Esbjorn Svennsen, Tord Gustavsen, Bobo Stenson, Denny Zeitlin, John Taylor, Taylor Eigsti, Aaron Parks, Marcin Wasilewski, Gerald Clayton..... these guys all have distinctive sounds.
....

Don't BS us with that "all jazz sounds the same" when you have shown that you don't even listen to it.



I can't believe I'm about to defend one of Gyro's statements, but here it is... laugh I think it's telling that a non-fan of jazz thinks it all sounds the same.

Wizard, you mentioned a handful of top-tier pianists with distinctive voices to illustrate the diversity of jazz styles... but these cats are really the exception. These guys are the museum pieces, the masters whom everyone imitates. This holds true to a lesser extent for the second-tier cats (Brad Meldau, et al).

Let me suggest a categorization, a taxonomy of the surviving species of jazz:

The top guys -the stars- exist in a somewhat untouchable realm. They are visible to a large audience, and they play festivals and big clubs, and they get paid well. You are unlikely to find them at a jam session. As the Masters like Oscar pass away, is their niche filled by the next generation like Hiromi and Brad Meldau? It is uncertain. This jazz is alive, but it is stuck on a pedestal.

But the jazz stars are a very small fraction of the whole culture that is- or used to be- jazz: The small clubs, The after-hours jam sessions, The streets, The gigs that the masses of players in New York City do every night. Especially the jam sessions. At most of the jam sessions, there is a palpable pressure to play a certain vocabulary, to demonstrate all those Charlie Parker licks you learned in every key. The jam sessions are alive, underground, in the big jazz cities, and with occasional occurrences in small cities. Alive, but not the hotbed of innovation they should be. The pressure is to look to the past for vocabulary.

Then there's the music schools, teaching generations of young players the same standard bag of tricks. There's "The Jazz Piano Book" teaching everyone the same rootless voicings. And there are the Wyntons of the world saying that X is jazz while Y is not, preserving it in a glass case so it won't change. This jazz has been embalmed.

Moving outside the major jazz cities like NY, and outside of academic circles, and aside from the top-tier jazz superstars, what is left of jazz? Where is someone like Gyro- who is clearly not a jazz aficionado- likely to hear live jazz? I'll answer that question: in a restaurant, as background music. In a restaurant whose owner wants quiet, undisturbing jazz that is good for the digestion, and that won't distract people from their conversations. This branch of jazz has been restaurant-ified.


The four main species of jazz:

1. Jazz Stars.

2. Academia/Preservationists.

3. Small Clubs/Jam Sessions/The Streets.

4. Restaurant Jazz.


Much jazz either looks backwards and plays the old standards, or has moved forward and become so rarified and clever that it has severed it's ties with popular culture completely. There are attempts to make exceptions like Herbie's "The New Standard" and Brad Meldau playing Radiohead and Nirvana, but IMO they fall short. It no longer has strong ties with popular culture as it once did.




Last edited by wavelength; 08/05/10 12:49 PM.
#1488682 - 08/05/10 12:46 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: Jeffrey Preston]  
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We used to have the most wonderful jazz station in San Francisco, KJAZ (Alameda, actually, if I remember--- across the bay). Oh, how I have missed it. But, College of San Mateo's radio station, KCSM has stepped up to somewhat fill its place; it even employs some of the former KJAZ staff.

It is streamed live on the web, http://kcsm.org/ . I don't doubt there are others, if one knew how to find them.

This new jazz performance venue in San Francisco is an interesting development. Of course, finding a place to go to hear music live is always the problem in the crowded and expensive big cities. The downtown location is very prominent--- I can't think what they have knocked down to make room for it on the 200 block of Franklin Street, but at least there are the two big parking garages nearby, at Civic Center and Performing Arts Center. That is always the big pinch for any new construction in SF (that, and coming up with the cabbage to afford it).

Long ago and far away now, but my favorite place of all was a smoky little trollhole off Central Square in Cambridge, where I used to stop off late at night after work. No cover, or minimal; couple of beers got you in. No, they didn't have the top talent and it was so smoky you would have thought it was on fire, but somehow I just really loved that place.

I don't know about withering, but this stuff has always been something you had to make the effort to find--- it doesn't scream at you from behind every television commercial. Yet it lacks the chicte' (of a sort) of the classical venues, and their funding base... so it's had to struggle along on its own.

Kimball's (the club--- actually, there were two of them) was another kind of favorite jazz spot in SF. Right around the corner from the Opera House. They used to have some great performers. I wonder if it is still there; I'm pretty sure their sister facility in Emeryville is still in business.


Clef

#1488694 - 08/05/10 01:02 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: Jeffrey Preston]  
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I joined a Jazz Meetup in my area last year that had just started up on line, and I was the only member who ever showed up. The meetup was begun by a local jazz group who played at and tried to get people to get together at a local restaurant. It was strange because over 30 people had joined the meetup on line, but nobody ever went to them. One person said on line she thought jazz was "over her head," but said she'd try to go. I think some people do think it's too sophisticated for them. They don't know how down to earth and just plain fun to listen to it can be. There are so many styles of jazz these days, too, so maybe people don't even know what it is anymore. How would you define "jazz"?...improvisation?

Last edited by Elssa; 08/05/10 01:08 PM.
#1488709 - 08/05/10 01:22 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: Elssa]  
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Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
I put an ad on craigslist to find folks to play jazz with. I had tons of response. We've been playing every single Monday for the last 6 months or so. People love it.

As far as I'm concerned, Jazz isn't dying, it's blooming!

#1488728 - 08/05/10 01:41 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: knotty]  
Joined: May 2008
Posts: 1,458
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member
etcetra  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2008
Posts: 1,458
Gyro

For a non classical music listener, Bach and Vivaldi sounds the same, Beethoven and Schubert sounds the same, Chopin and Lizst would sound the same. It's like saying all Asians look the same,
There is a merit in taking time to appreciate the nuances.

Also how can you discredit nuances in classical music? It's the subtle things you do with dynamics that makes melodies sing. It's how you control the volume on ever note in the chord that makes the wound rich. Or do you prefer an amateur pianist banging the piano playing Lizst with fortissimo and no dynamic contrast?

It's okay to not want to know things but don't let your ignorance be the reason for putting down other people's art, especially since they spent their lifetime on it

#1488734 - 08/05/10 01:52 PM Re: Jazz is withering away in america [Re: knotty]  
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 90
Jeffrey Preston Offline
Full Member
Jeffrey Preston  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 90
Elma NY
Originally Posted by knotty
I put an ad on craigslist to find folks to play jazz with. I had tons of response. We've been playing every single Monday for the last 6 months or so. People love it.

As far as I'm concerned, Jazz isn't dying, it's blooming!


I only get spam in response to anything I post on that site -_-.

Knotty, I also want to ask was it hard finding a bassplayer? and other members? or did things come together smoothly. I want a bass player to jam with SOOOO bad

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