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On "Why I Don't Like Jazz"

Alex Marianyi
Contributing Writer
alex.marianyi[at] / @alexmarianyi

If you are in any way involved in the jazz community in America, you've probably read this blog post: Why Americans Don't Like Jazz. Now, I don't normally give too much weight to opinion posts written in 2003 about jazz that have no verifiable, relevant, or comprehensive data to support the author's position. However, the apparent popularity of this amongst jazz supporters of all kinds has pushed me to take a look.

Much of the reaction to this post, from the criticism, the long discussions, and the support found amongst many Facebook and Twitter feeds is based on a discussion about whether Americans like jazz or not. Frankly, I don't care whether or not Americans like jazz and neither should jazz musicians. The jazz community seems to be obsessed with whether or not Americans like jazz.

Let's assume for the moment that jazz is generally well received in America and that many American jazz musicians make a respectable middle-class living through more or less artistically fulfilling jobs. If this were the case, would the jazz community suddenly rest on its laurels and call it a day? Would we suddenly give up the all-night jam sessions, the hours of listening to records, or the online discussions about Wynton Marsalis in the 80s? I'd like to think we wouldn't.

Why then waste our time talking about whether or not Americans like jazz? Why not spend our time making more Americans like jazz regardless of its current popularity? Because even if jazz were popular enough, wouldn't we want to make it more popular? I don't know that I've ever read an interview where Jay Z says, "I've decided to not pursue any more success."

If the jazz community just focused on how to get more people to like jazz without all of the existential crises, the existential crises would no longer be necessary. Imagine a world where the jazz community only focused on getting more people to like jazz. The thousands of Facebook and Reddit comments instead focusing on brainstorming new businesses, sharing successful marketing strategies, or promoting one another's shows. Wouldn't that be a lot more fun and, frankly, much healthier mentally and emotionally?

So, the next time you see a blog post or discussion happening about whether or not Americans like jazz, do us all a favor and share a jazz success story instead.

Alex Marianyi does weird music stuff sitting in his living room. You can follow him on Twitter, and he won't even file a restraining order.