From: Jennifer Odell
I’m still mulling Nate’s Wall of Objectivity and thinking of the many journalistic standards that support his approach to social media networking. I’m also thinking about the misleading link I posted on my Facebook profile that appears to commend Time magazine for naming Herman Leonard their man of the year. Although the legendary jazz photographer’s death was simply mentioned in a long list of “fond farewells,” subsumed under Time’s annual “Person of the Year” package, I like how Facebook lets me distill the daily digital information onslaught down to the things that I find poignant -- and emphasize those things so that, hopefully my Facebook friends get exposed to a new idea or two.
I guess posts like that are tantamount to the general murmur you might overhear at a music festival or conference. And like those overheard one-liners, information we get from these sites can easily be taken out of context to create false impressions, as Nate learned the hard way. (But making Herman Leonard the Person of the Year on a site created by the actual Person of the Year has such a nice ring to it...)
To me, the mere fact that we’re having this discussion about the ethics of Facebook friending in jazz is a positive sign. Search and Restore’s movement to broaden jazz’s audience needs to reach a generation that expects everything about everything to be available on the web. Jazz isn’t quite there yet. Downbeat doesn’t publish the magazine’s stories online, iTunes does little to guide new listeners to the music, and there are about as many websites about jazz as there women critics (cough).
But jazz communities are at least thriving on Facebook and Twitter, so maybe our industry is finally climbing out of its much-maligned, proverbial ivory tower.
Speaking of which, did anyone else follow the Jazzfamoose this year? Before 2010, there was no jazz version of Gawker, launching snarky missives about controversies like the decision to name every Marsalis a Jazz Master -- or Phil Woods’ pursuant boycott of the NEA. But at some point in July, a mysterious, take-no-prisoners digital personality calling itself JazzFamoose appeared on Twitter and started lobbing 140-character grenades at everyone in jazz, from musicians to critics to genre-specific phenomena.
On the other end of the seriousness spectrum, Nate and Shaun both touched on Herbie’s Imagine Project, an album that raised a number of questions for me. While the cloying impression of Kate Bush’s “Don’t Give Up,” revisited in jazz form will not be easily expunged from the recesses of my brain, reading Herbie’s explanation of the project in Downbeat this month made consider his effort from a new perspective. His goal was to make a statement about the need for and potential of global unity. So that statement was obscured by a confusing combination of Irish fiddlers, African guitar riffs and Lisa Hannigan, but hey, he tried. I appreciate the message.
While working on an obit for Abbey Lincoln this summer, I had music and politics on the brain and found myself coming back to one politically-inspired track that worked better than anything on Herbie’s disc: Preservation Hall Band director, Ben Jaffe, Trombone Shorty, Mos Def and Lenny Kravitz’s recording of the brass band staple, “It Ain’t My Fault,” which they made to raise money for GulfAid.org. It was recorded while BP’s heinously unmitigated environmental disaster was still spewing untold amounts of crude oil into the Gulf. Mos’ New York rap-styled lyrical lilt sounds a little foreign in a brass band setting, but his tone echoes the frustration we all felt about so much responsibility-shirking.
There was also “Sorry Ain’t Enough No More,” a hip-hop-R&B jam by Shamarr Allen and Hot 8 Brass Band’s Bennie Pete. It’s got almost nothing to do with jazz, but Shamarr’s first teachers were Kidd Jordan and Herlin Riley, and he came up playing with Tuba Fats, so I’ll grandfather him into the discussion. And I’d be curious to hear more from Shaun about which issues are inspiring artists in South America to compose music.
Maybe these intersections between jazz and politics fascinate me because of my terrible addiction to Freedom Now and Attica Blues, but I resolve that in 2011 I’ll try my damnedest to spill some ink around more politicized music projects.
Anyway, thanks for the excuse to synthesize (sort of) these random ideas, guys. I’ll be looking for news about JJA, David (I’ll be at JEN in New Orleans that week) and about Panama’s rising stars, Shaun.
Chris, Elephant9’s “over-caffeinated Deep Purple sprinting through a jazz record” is officially on my To Listen To list. And Nate -- try not to Twitter-kill any more jazz fans. We need as many as we can get.
May the Moose be with you.