Jazz Services, do they help us?
11/05/10 - News Item
If you haven't heard there's a campaign for more jazz on the BBC: Where have you been? All you need to do to influence the BBC is to join the online campaign at http://www.jazzservices.org.uk/JazzBusiness/JazzOffAir/tabid/206/Default.aspx. Jazz Services needs you to do this by 20 May so they can collect all your voices and make sure the BBC and press know just how many people have taken part.
Re the 'Jazz Services' request for more jazz on the BBC. Does anyone seriously think this will benefit people who believe that by signing the petition, 'our sort of jazz' will receive more exposure? Think again folks. Even the Musicians Union would never financially help New Orleans/Dixieland/Mainstream jazz bands. 'Cutting Edge' is the stuff - interminable meandering saxophone solos, dominant sevenths over modal scales, honking noises (no, not from over indulgence in food or booze - more 'goose in extremis'). Tunes - what are those? Chord progressions ? So restrictive to these geniuses of improvisation. Yes folks, this is the jazz for the blinkered cretins of Jazz Services. We can get plenty of good, straight ahead jazz from programmes on the Internet. Forget the BBC - and Jazz Services as well. If any musician of our persuasion can say he/she has had any help from Jazz Services, I'll 'quote' a Courtney Pine lick on Penwortham High Street this coming June.
Ian Royle has certainly hit the nail on the head with his writings about the Jazz Services petition. I wonder if he has an opinion on why the "powers that be " are so reluctant to support pre - bebop styles of jazz. Are the people in charge of these organisations ( Arts Council etc.) simply ignorant regarding older styles of Jazz or is it this obsession with wishing to be seen at the "cutting edge" of things, good or bad ( usually bad )?
I note Ian says The BBC doesn't recognise our sort of music, but of course they do, but don't know it. They play it all the time they play our classical masters. Simply listen to Chopin, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky. These guys really dished it out in their day and we still revel within their chords and even above and beyond. Miller etc played and arranged melodies from them and they knew all about jazz and played it. - Unwin Nunns
Hi Fred, Re Ian Royle's observations. Over the past 12 months or so I've been lucky to have met and played with several musicians of the younger generation who are no strangers to playing modal scales and free improvisations, but who nevertheless have shown great interest and enthusiasm for older styles of jazz, and many have made a very decent showing at it (No problems with either tunes or chord progressions--they learned the theory from the start). It's a pity and rather shaming that many musicians of our genre seem unable to show the same openness and generosity of spirit as these young people. Ian refers to Jazz Services, and by implication the musicians they promote as "blinkered cretins". I can only comment by noting that three little words come to mind--"pot", "kettle" and "black"!
To David Davis and my opinion on the Jazz Services and Arts Council 'Powers that Be' rejection of Our Kind of Jazz as worthy of support.
Hi Fred, Re Phil Yates'
comments. Over the past 12 months or so I've been lucky to have met and played with several musicians of the younger generation who are no strangers to playing modal scales and free improvisations, but who nevertheless have shown great interest and enthusiasm for older styles of jazz"
Unwin Nunns was quite right. One of my all time favourite classical compositions is still Mozart's Banjo Concerto in F# major. They don't write 'em like that any more! Keep smiling.
I take Frank's point about mentally hearing what we play before it comes out to surprise us. That's the part that makes playing such a thrill no matter how long we've been at it. I'm grateful for having learned most of the repertoire on the bandstand in my early days eg "Do you know this one? No? You'll soon pick it up." Having always been a busker, I am not in any way rating enthusiasm over experience but I do feel we shouldn't be too hard on youngsters who might have come from a different tradition in musical education but are willing to give it a go. Steep learning curves seem to be no problem for people in their teens and twenties and many may yet surprise us. Always the optimist !
It's refreshing to read such sensible and balanced views as expressed by Phil Yates and sad to read the blinkered, introverted nonsense from Ron Knight in Oz.
Nice to have stirred up a bit of controversy. Sorry Phil Yates, if you thought I was slagging off the college graduates - I wasn't. Indeed, I was a peripatetic brass instructor for over thirty years with future Heads of Music, Brass Band proncipals and conducters and - yes, good jazzers on my list of credits. Indeed, one of my ex-pupils now runs his own quartet on the Queen Mary (well done Mark Hodgson!)
Dear Fred, Some years ago Linton Ali, leader of the Downtown Dixieland Jazz Band, and myself were on the board of Jazz Services in the North West. I later went down to London regularly as a committee member from the North West, but my activities with The Spinners meant I could no longer always be available for meetings, so I had to resign. During the time I was on the committee I found a readiness to listen to any points we put forward, but there was an apparent reluctance on the part of "trad" people to communicate with Jazz Services. I had formed a small band on leaving the Spinners with a repertoire including Coney Island Washboard, Sweet Georgia Brown, Big Noise From Win., Apex Blues etc. - hardly "modern rubbish"? and we were given a grant to make a tour of Northern venues. I also believe that Max Collie had at least one tour supported by Jazz Services.
Why, oh why don't musicians of the undoubted stature of Terry Perry, Mart Rodger, Dave Mott and Les Bull apply to Jazz Services for a short tour grant? From the Midlands Richard Leach and George Huxley would certainly qualify and a quick flip through the Jazz Guide would reveal a whole host more. The "moaners" are usually them wot ain't tried! Get stuck in and show Jazz Services what a lot of GOOD traditional Jazz is on offer. End of sermon.
Tony Davis (Liverpool)
Here, Fred, we have a classic oxymoron... 'Jazz Services' and 'help us' in the same line.
Oh yes I agree with Ian Royle. I have for years carried the torch against the "Musical Colleges" and the "Media" not to mention Jazz Festival organisers. In my humble opinion the above mentioned organisations are totally to blame for a dropping in standards generally speaking throughout the many UK Jazz Festivals. Having played 23 years at the Cork International Jazz Festival , I have seen the rise of "alternative/ progressive" Jazz (in reality "Garage" type noise pretending to be a form of Jazz) and the demise of Traditional New Orleans/ Dixieland / Chicago - and even Mainstream Jazz. You rightly comment upon the tragedy of young musicians leaving College and University completely unable to "Swing" or "Improvise" or even understand the meaning of the words. Yes they can read music like I read a comic, and they can produce notes(?) out of their chosen instrument that were never meant to be played, but take away the printed music and take away the screeches - wails - crashes and bangs - scrapes and scratches and they are left (oh please) noiseless. I can recall a conversation I had with Barry Douglas (World acclaimed master of the Classical Piano) during which he stated that he would give a fortune to be able to play Traditional Jazz - he could NOT improvise to save himself he said. Now how sad is that? I have also talked with festival organisers who, in answer to my question, stated that they obtain grants if they showcase obscure bands/artists/ musical forms ,"acts that the public would never get an opportunity to see and hear in normal circumstances", but no assistance for what is called "old - out of date musical expressions". Almost made me give up drinking Guinness.
Hello Fred." Jazz is the one musical genre that should, above all, promote tolerance" says John Hill. He should tell this to Jazz Services etc. and see if he can persuade them to " tolerate" older styles of Jazz . I think Phil Yates needs a visit to Specsavers to replace his rose tinted spectacles. Just because he has come across a few younger musicians who have an interest in older types of Jazz doesn't alter the fact that the vast majority of younger players and the people who teach them have no interest whatsoever in pre - bebop ( in many cases pre - Coltrane ) music.
There are narrow minded people in all genres of music and the two I have most contact with are no exception, namely jazz and (British style) brass band. There are even divisions within those two, especially in the broad field encompassed by the word 'jazz'. There are also musical snobs in all of them, for example brass banders who refer condescendingly to jazzers as 'buskers' and New Orleans' afficionados whose idea of the varied music from that city is the narrowest of the narrow, i.e. if you don't sound like George Lewis or Kid Thomas you aren't playing real jazz. Schools teach jazz (if they teach it at all) as being almost exclusively 'big band'. Other organisations, including festivals and Jazz Services and the BBC, have their own interpretation. We're not going to change that, folks. Personally I'm the biggest bigot of the lot, I can't stand Garage or Rap, I'm prepared to give anything else an ear though!! Let's enjoy everything we can, music's a big worldwide language, and it's wonderful. (except for garage and rap). On younger musicians, yes I know quite a few and very good they are too, especially technically. But in jazz, whose special qualities cannot be written down, we've all had to do (and continue to do) 'the listening', (the equivalent of the London cabbies 'knowledge') and it takes a long time. But the one's I know will get there with a bit of dedication, some already have. But garage and rap? Oh dear!
Thanks, Phil Yates
In theory, organisations called Jazz Services and the Musicians' Union must be there to support all kinds of jazz and all kinds of musicians respectively. If either of them is failing in this they are failing their members, potential mambers and active participants - the very people they depend upon for their existence.
..... and no! I'm not on their payroll! I'd like to suggest that Amy Roberts - possibly with the support of Jamie Brownfield - applies to Jazz Services for a Touring Grant, listing - say five of her coming gigs. If they cover a decent Geographical area so much the better but I don't think that's essential. As I recall, my supported tour included Ormskirk, Runcorn, Bolton and The Stables. I bet Amy has gigs covering a much bigger area than that! I really don't want to get embroiled in a silly dispute over all this, but really we won't ever get anywhere if we don't move on. Any further ideas about a suitable touring package should be posted on this website with a "further" to Jazz Services. How about Richard Leach's Alex Welsh Tribute as one? Or a Hot Club of Paris/France tour for one of the several Django/Stefan groups around? And I bet The Merseysippi could knock up a Lu Watters tribute concert??? Keith Nichols can produce any type of wonderful traditional Jazz you care to name. ... and yer honour, I rest me case!
I have been following the Jazz Services Jazz on The BBC debate on your website. Ian is quite right and I admire his point of view. I am a member of the Association of British Jazz Musicians which is part of Jazz Services and I have always believed in the benefits of fighting for ones cause from within rather than outside. I have sent the following email to Chris Hodgkins who is the Head Man at Jazz Services and I think it will be good to hear his view :-
Dear Chris, You will know from my applications to be part of Jazz Services and The Association of British Jazz Musicians I have always made a point of stating that my interest lies only with the Traditional/Dixieland and Mainstream element of Jazz Music. I think in fighting for the cause of Jazz Broadcasting on the BBC you should concentrate equality for all forms of jazz. My views on Modern or Funk jazz are the same as my views on Modern Art and I have no time for either.
The Director of Jazz Services responds. -
The current Jazz Services campaign is for a greater allocation of jazz on the BBC. When Jazz Services says jazz we mean the whole range of jazz from Buddy Bolden to the present day. People will also see from the campaign that the promotional card talks of the development role of the BBC in promoting jazz in the UK and our report is unequivocal in this matter. Unfortunately I cannot respond to every posting on your site. However I will say this; after working in jazz from the age of 16 to my present age of 59, as a musician, managing director, Chair of the National Jazz Archive, festival organise, founder of the Welsh Jazz Society, run own record label - Bell CDs, band leader and composer; I am interested in the full range of jazz music. Jazz does it self a terrible disservice, fragments itself and wastes time on what to me is fruitless discussion - a rerun of the mouldy figs versus beboppers argument of the late 1950's There is room in jazz for everyone's music and we should all support each other. United we stand divided we fall.
01/06/10 - Dear Fred,
I think Chris Hodders has really had the last word on this matter - much as I have enjoyed the argy-bargy on this business!
Can we now STOP all the fractious behaviour of spoilt children and get on with the business of promoting our music - JAZZ in all its wonderful variety of forms. In the past I have been as guilty as anyone of narking about Bop, Fusion and the various developements - or perhaps degenerations - which have taken place over the sixty six years since Ken Binns played me Muggsy Spanier's "Sister Kate" and "Eccentric". I was then fortunate - having conned Bruce Bakewell - no, HE conned ME! - into buying a "simple system" as we called it - clarinet,- to enjoy a dozen years of "trad" bigotry, before the immortal Don Lowes sat me down and played Gerry Mulligan 78s through the night while he wrote scores for Billy Smart's Circus Band!
At college I was enrolled for a very short spell in Manchest Art School's Jazz band with a trumpet player called Cephas Howard.... and I joined up with Eric Lister for another short DREAM spell in a two clarinet line up... In my art class was a great lad - with whom I lost touch to my lasting regret - called Dave Power. He had a great breadth of taste which was most unusual for that time. He also had a cracking sister.... but that's another story! During years of playing and singing a wide variety of Folk music, both British and foreign, I found myself working with an incredible character - and a fine bass player - called John McCormick - who we inevitably christened "Count John". He completed my widening of taste, as I don't think I have ever encountered anyone else with such a tolerance - and genuine liking - of so many different styles of what we call Jazz. John gently increased what Don Lowes had begun, and my wife, Beryl, - whose collection is unbelievebly eclectic - has continued it.
Please excuse my egocentic wanderings, but it all adds up to a plea for tolerance. We should ALL be pulling together and not acting like spoilt children - "if you won't play MY game I'm taking my ball home!" When writrers like Rudi Blesh - who did a brilliant analysis of Jelly Roll Morton's "Doctor Jazz" - calls Teddy Wilson "an effete" pianist..... Well, I feel like giving up! Such a talented writer - wasted! And THAT is what upsets me about Ian Royle and Mart Roger's attitude. Two fine musicians and band leaders, but just 'cos it's not THEIR cup of Bovril - they aren't going to ASDA again! Try Tesco fellers. You might even get points!
Tony Davis (Wallasey)
Ian Royle, who does not regard himself stuck in any particular style, posted a response to this comment, but later asked me to withdraw it on the basis that it didn't deserve one! He has submitted another one instead - FB
I've just picked up the latest 'Jazz UK' magazine. In the 'Jazz Services' section (page 13) you'll see their recommendation for the 'Access to Music' courses. Have a look at the people who endorse the North Manchester
College site. I couldn't be bothered to look elsewhere. No doubt there are endorsements from Puff Daddy, Eminem and Chris Evans.