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Friday, 29 August 2008


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Jazz tends to be very popular during jazzfests with CD sales peaking during that time.

Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of the World’s Largest Jazz Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival. (2.5 millions in attendance)


I can't say whether jazz is dead in other places in the world but here in San Antonio, TX it is very much alive. We are lucky enough to have an excellent radio station here, KTRU 91.7 FM, with an all jazz format. I'm talking real jazz here, not that mellow sax, shimmering bells, smooth jazz tapioca stuff. They also have a strong web broadcasting operation at www.ktru.org. Well worth a listen.

While I'm plugging broadcasters, let me mention my other all time favorite, KCRW in Santa Monica, CA. As far as I can tell they are the best eclectic radio station in the world. They offer multiple channels of live broadcast and a web only service featuring all music. If you like jazz or world music check out Tom Schnabel daily on KCRW.

I saw Sonny play at Berklee (Boston) in about 1991 - so he was still pretty old. He tore it up- his energy & skills were utterly undiminished. I'm not surprised to hear he's still the same!

My 19-year-old kid went to see 82-years-young jazz drumming legend Roy Haynes last night and 20-year-old teen heartthrob Jesse McCartney this morning. If they'll turn off the video games and the iPod, young people love live music when they have the opportunity to see it. We have to give them more opportunities.

My wife told me an old musicians' joke last week. It's a riddle. I'll ask the riddle today and if no one has heard it or can guess the answer, I'll drop by with the answer tomorrow:

How do you make a million dollars playing jazz?


How do you make a million dollars playing jazz?

Well,first you start with 2 million....


Posted by: Ed Nixon : "How do you make a million dollars playing jazz?"

I wonder if it's the same answer as is was for investments in commodities: Start with $10 million?

Start with two million....

Jazz is now more popular than ever here in Spain. Festivals have sprung all over the country these last years. In summer you can count as many as 20 or 25 important events (five-ten day festivals). Difficult to believe, considering that 20 years ago we had almost no live jazz, except for a couple small clubs in Madrid and Barcelona.
I saw Sonny Rollins a few months ago in Madrid, doing a hommage to a local piano man, Tete Montoliu. Wow. He plays as well es ever. It's true he rests a bit between sets, but his band is brilliant, keeps the momentum flowing until he returns. And he stills plays long long pieces. When I grow up I want to be like him!

You used to be able to make a million dollars playing jazz by starting with two million, but adjusted for inflation and the fall of the dollar, maybe if you moved to Japan...

Start with two million.

Unfortunately, Jazz is not popular in the United States. I don't believe that there is a single commercial over-the-air jazz radio station left.

I think the fact that jazz is not popular is at least partially reflective of our dumbed-down, hyperactive and star-obsessed culture.

Over the last 20 years, according to the RIAA stats, Jazz has averaged just 3.2% of sales. For 2007, it averaged 2.6% although it was as low as 1.8% in 2004, so it does seem to be growing once again, although the overall market size for music is declining in the U.S. as illegal downloads and legal downloads primarily comprising of singles continue to take their toll on the industry.

"...although the overall market size for music is declining in the U.S. as illegal downloads and legal downloads primarily comprising of singles continue to take their toll on the industry."

Can't really argue with this, although the apparent downturn might have something to do with the reverse of the "Pepper Effect."

I can't cite chapter and verse on this, but at some point the producers of pepper noticed that "consumption" was going radically up, up, up. They were delighted, and articles were published about the public's increasing relish for pepper. But on further analysis, it turned out that what had happened was that the delivery system had changed--instead of pepper shakers on tables, many restaurants were providing small corrugated paper packets of pepper to patrons who requested pepper. Two things were going on: if someone asked for pepper, the server would grab four or five packets to appear to be lavish or generous, even though very few people used five packets of pepper on a meal; and, pepper users were ripping open a packet, using a small amount of it, and discarding the rest. So the sudden "increase" in pepper consumption was merely an increase in pepper WASTAGE due to the delivery method.

Similarly, speaking just for myself, I know I used to buy whole albums or CDs for one, two, three, or four songs--because that was the only way I could buy the songs I wanted. Some albums were "whole" works of art and deserved to be listened to entire, and it's true that, among the songs you had to buy but wouldn't have bought if you had the choice, there were occasional gems to discover--we've all had the experience of finding a favorite song on an album we didn't know was there. But most albums were collections with a lot of filler. I know there were many examples in my own life of buying a whole album for one single song and never liking or listening to anything off that album but that one song.

Now, with downloading, I still buy whole albums--but only a small percentage of the time. When I want just a few songs I can buy just what I want to buy--I'm no longer forced to buy "wastage" or filler along with what I really want.

I believe that this is an overlooked aspect of the "downturn" in music sales that the record companies so lament. It's not the only aspect by any means, but it's also one that is real and that is seldom acknowledged.

Mike J.

How to earn...?

Well that wasn't too hard, was it? I guess it speaks to the commonalities found in our dumbed-down and bottom-lined / bottom-fed environment that we could find the same joke told in so many walks of life.

Maybe the real joke is a) the notion that you could think as high as a million as an end point for our poor beleaguered jazzers and b) think so low as a 10 million start point in a delusional financial market. Mortgages? Let's not go there.


Thanks Ken,
I was in that audience as well. I didn't bring a camera but I introduced five new listeners to Sonny Rollins.

If some you just listen to those who make money, perhaps try listening to someone other than Britney Spears;P

I saw Rollins in 1988 in St. Louis. I was lucky enough to be sitting in the middle of the 3rd row (which may have had something to do with it) and beside a very pretty young woman (which may have also played a part), but he was absolutely amazing live. There was a level of energy that just doesn't come across on a recording. It made me wonder how many other musicians were substantially different in person. I've seen a great many famous jazz musicians since then, but he still strikes me as the performer with the largest difference between his recorded playing and his live playing. (I suspect that Fats Waller was the same way.)


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