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Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Jazz Ain't Dead, But Charlie Parker Is -- So Let’s Move On, Shall We? < PopMatters
Writer and jazz critic Paul da Barros asks an essential question about jazz in the new century. “How can the music can get back into the culture in a meaningful way?”
If jazz cannot answer that question, then it is doomed to obscurity. Without a hook into how life is lived today, jazz will be museum music, the taste of a small minority of fanatics. No matter how many Clifford Brown solos these fans can scat from memory, their support alone can’t nurture a living art. For many, this threshold was crossed long ago.
Once, We Were Popular
Jazz started off as popular music, music that came from and directly served folks. Ragtime had its own dance, the Cake Walk. Early jazz in New Orleans was social music—played in brothels and speakeasies, in funeral parades and at celebrations. The rise of the big bands and the blossoming of “swing” made jazz the pop music of the ‘30s and ‘40s—in dancehalls, in radio broadcasts, and in the hearts of millions of jitterbugging teens… and their parents. Yes, there was a time when Benny Goodman, Woody Shaw, and Tommy Dorsey were as big as Madonna or Jay-Z. More...