Jazz is Dead! Long Live Jazz! The Jazzers’ Debates … From the Mouths of Jazzers!


Today, the very day I completed this series of Jazzers’ Debates, Kenny Ball passed away. As I wrote in a recent article in Just Jazz magazine, times have changed since the 1950s and 1960s when Kenny, along with Acker Bilk, kept jazz at the top of the charts. My longing and motivation is to see jazz restored those former heights.

Peter M Butler, Founder of Jazz&Jazz


Early in January, 2013, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a programme called “Jazz is Dead”. In May this year the BBC plans another Radio 4 programme – a documentary on “Traditional British Jazz”. So jazz can’t be dead after all. But whilst disregarding the BBC’s take on jazz, we cannot ignore the fact that jazz is ailing! 

When I launched Jazz&Jazz  back in the summer of 2011, one of my aims was to to help raise the profile of jazz by inviting bands, musicians and fans to share news and views about the jazz scene. Why? Because as a Johnny-come-lately returnee to jazz just a few years ago I was dismayed at its decline during my years away.

But because Wiktionary describes a Johnny-come-lately as, “a novice” or “upstart” and one who “thinks he can do a better job”, I need to be respectful in my approach.

So the question was how to get the inside story from the mouths of band leaders, musicians and fans?

The Facebook Jazzers Group

I hit upon the plan of launching a my Facebook Jazzers Group so that I could express my concerns, launch debates, and leave it to my fellow Jazzers to give their opinions, reach their own conclusions and even launch debates themselves.

To date, with over 220 on Jazzers and new members joining almost daily, this is proving successful. But cyberspace is ephemeral, fleeting, and no sooner is a debate launched on Jazzers than it can pass into oblivion. The solution to that? Simple: back-link the debates to Jazz&Jazz for further comment and analysis, with outcomes reported back to Jazzers.

So now is the time to begin presenting the Jazzers’ Debates. Who knows, ways forward for giving jazz a new lease of life may be found in time to preempt further conclusions reached by the BBC.

The Debates

I’ve separated the Jazzers’ Debates into the two categories below. Several debates cover some common ground. Put together, all of them contribute to the big picture. The next question was which category to cover first – the negatives or the positives? I decided upon the positives for the future prospects of jazz followed by the negatives, past pitfalls to be overcome if we are to enjoy a resurgence in the joy of jazz!

Examining Future Prospects:

  • Younger Bands & Musicians
  • Jazz Festivals for Younger Bands
  • Mentors and Jazz Camps
  • Swing Dance & LindyHop
  • Jazz Revival in Europe 

Avoiding Past Pitfalls:

  • New Orleans Jazz / Traditional Jazz
  • Debunking Minority Myths
  • Jazz Clubs and Ageing Fans
  • Ageing Fans and Cherry Pickers
  • Musicians’ Pay
  • Jazz and the BBC

How to begin?

I was also in a quandary how to begin until I received the March, 2013, issue of Just Jazz magazine and read Pete Lay’s editorial. So I quote Pete in introducing the first two debates.


The final question was how to present the debates – included in this post as one long screed or separately, with each post under its own heading? I decided upon the latter so each debate follows on from this introduction as a separate post.



Peter Mark Butler
Founder and Moderator of Jazz&Jazz

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