bar_big image

For Your Continued Support

Written by [Anthony Dean-Harris]

My home radio station, [KRTU San Antonio], is currently in the middle of its semiannual pledge drive. Since I volunteer at a non-commercial, public radio station, much of its operation budget comes from listener donations, so twice a year, we make a plea to our audience (hopefully you’re included in that, dear reader) to donate to KRTU and become a member of the station. This schilling process involves a series of rather detailed pitches to the listener on why supporting the station and jazz music is important.

With that in mind, I decided to focus on why supporting jazz, not just my radio station but the genre overall as well, is important. Jazz, due to its collaborative nature but also due to its audience size in the general populace, is a rather communal art form. Many musicians interact, discourse, and work on projects together. The fans in an area likely run into each other at various concerts and functions. The jazz internet is finding its various meeting places like [Peter Hum’s blog], [NPR’s A Blog Supreme], [Nate Chinen’s blog], and of course, Nextbop. The community this genre makes is generally open to bringing others into the fold and is in fact often desirous of new blood.

So jazz is a genre that is geared toward moving forward. Its focus is on being fresh, innovative, adaptive, and open to anything. Since I have found myself more and more entrenched in this community, I’ve been surrounded by immense optimism. Seb and Justin have nothing but high hopes and enthusiasm when they speak of the work involved in Nextbop. The staff of KRTU is the personification of jazz’s sense of whimsy. Even my publisher for whom I occasionally freelance, Kathy Clay-Little of African-American Reflections, exudes positivity in the direst of straits and sees jazz as endearing to the Alamo City. When one looks at the community involved, surely this is a genre worth supporting in all of its aspects: musician, press, listener, promoter.

Jazz is worth promoting because it has managed to move forward despite its many naysayers. Statistically, the jazz audience may be [shrinking and aging] (yes, someone just linked the infamous Teachout editorial again) but this is in the face of the jazz community actually doing what it needs to do to maintain its relevancy.

Barry Dallman of Liverpool, England recently made the call for jazz music to do what it can [to stay relevant to the public]. His thoughts on the matter are most certainly true. I know this because there are some on the fringe of the jazz community who are already doing this. One look at the [Nextbop Artists] will show a growing legion of musicians who are young, vibrant, and poised to play for lovers of music young and old. The efforts of [Search and Restore] are well on their way of changing that aforementioned setting (you have no idea how much I wish I could have seen Kneebody perform with Busdriver). Even jazz icon George Wein is [doing what he can] in his upcoming [CareFusion Jazz Festival] to dust the cobwebs off the genre’s perception. There is a sea change in the jazz community in which innovations like these are steadily becoming the norm, much to the genre’s benefit.

Dallman’s plea for jazz’s relevancy strongly echoes Ian C. Rogers’ call to action to [make the jazz internet community more appealing]. That is also currently happening through Nextbop, A Blog Supreme, [Ethan Iverson], [Destination: Out], and others. So the discourse, press, and distribution of the music is growing in this era’s primary medium.

Essentially, jazz is responding as it should. Its musicians are continuing to innovate and appeal to their audience and to the times. Its setting is shifting to stay relevant. Its presence on the internet is burgeoning, despite [the music industry and US government’s absolute confusion] on the matter. The quality of its press is still top notch despite the obvious losses in the overall field of journalism. The music is accessible to the public through the internet and the radio. Its profile is steadily rising through [artists] [performing] in [high] [places]. All that remains now is a [Malcolm Gladwellian Tipping Point].

This is why you should support jazz. Support it because the music has so much range. Support it because it moves you. Support it because it calms you. Support it because the community is so open. Support it out of the need to gain some of hipster cred that you loved it before it suddenly got cool (as if jazz stopped being cool, psh!). Support it because it continues to endure. Support it because it continues to evolve. Support it because it continues to be some of the most adventurous artwork out there, even when those around you may not be paying it any mind.

If anything, that’s worth [throwing some dollars KRTU’s way] (and getting a really awesome t-shirt).

Anthony Dean-Harris is a contributing writer for [African-American Reflections] and hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on [91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio]. More of his writing can be found at his blog, [In Retrospect] and you can also [follow him on Twitter].