Jazzers’ Debate No 5: Signs of a Jazz Revival in Europe! Why Not in The UK?

EXAMINING FUTURE PROSPECTS


Jazzers’ Debate No 5

 

Encouraging Signs for Jazz in Europe (including LindyHop!).
So Why Not in The UK?

 

Initiator:
Peter Mark Butler

This Debate is a natural follow on to Debate Nos 1-4 because it demonstrates that the goals they present could be achieved in the UK if only we would be self-effacing enough to learn from our European Jazz Cousins. After all, was not “European Traditional Jazz” – which continue to thrive – a very successful offshoot from “British Traditional Jazz” introduced to our shores from New Orleans? Indeed, many of our top musicians have fled these shores to Germany, Holland and Sweden.

Peter Mark Butler In the wake of the Jazz&Jazz analysis of the BBC programme “Jazz is Dead”, Trevor Stent has thrown out this challenge to jazz in the UK. Any jazz luminaries out there willing to take up the challenge?

Encouraging Signs for Jazz in Europe, So Why Not in the UK? www.jazzandjazz.com

Jeff Lewis Thank you Trevor for having the b@££s to stand up and say what quite a few of us have thought for a long time.

Kay Leppard Peter: I think the Colyer knockers have been at it so long that some of his fellow musicians and fans who also have much wider tastes but are never given any credit for it by those who are happy to generalise at every opportunity, are bored by it all and I am sure they would be the last ones to want to hear what the Ken Colyer Trust – with limited means – tried to do for young musicians.

Peter Mark Butler I sympathise with that, Kay, and have encountered it myself. I attended a couple of the Trust’s meetings at Hemsby and remember reports on the educational endeavours. At least back then they were striving for some kind of progress. My point now is that if Brittany and Spain are making such progress, is there no one who can come forward in the UK to strive to emulate them.

Peter Mark Butler Pete Lay (Editor of Just Jazz) posted the following comment on my Jazz&Jazz article (above) and I felt it should be repeated here:

“Who are the jazz luminaries who are likely to step forward to the challenge? Probably only those who still believe jazz started with Charlie Parker or even John Coltrane. Music colleges are to blame. Their courses don’t base their instruction on anything pre-1940, except lip service to Louis Armstrong. Similarly, Johnny Boston, James Evans, Adrian Cox are playing our music despite everything else, certainly not helped by their peers. [More recently, Pete Lay has written: “I understand that Alyn Shipton and Keith Nichols are certainly doing their best to keep the history of jazz alive with their pupils, and are to be congratulated. I just wish there were a lot more like them.”]

He continued, “I have just witnessed this past weekend a band from Enkhuizen, The Revivalists, which has Johnny Boston on clarinet, tenor sax, and vocals. What exuberance from five youngish lads (if you want to include the drummer’s dad on string bass). Here was spirit personified, all played extremely well, and it was our music!!!

“Sorry, but us old farts will have to fade away in this country before the young musician decides it is time to revel in the music of Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Bunk Johnson, George Lewis etc, but please not another bunch of Colyer copyists – there was only one Ken Colyer, and as Percy Humphrey said of him: “he knows”.

DixieMix Jazzband Trust me, there are a lot of great younger musicians out there who have not come out of the university “mainstream” mould and who have in fact come to traditional jazz through old fashioned gigging apprenticeships. I was massively influenced by Pat Halcox and it was guys like him who took time to help me and encourage me.

There are a few brilliant young trad bands I know of but the biggest problem I face is that its nearly impossible to get on the festival circuit because (a) there are less festivals due to audiences dwindling and (b) they are very much a closed shop with the same bands and often the same musicians rotating to make different line ups at the festivals.

Getting the break seems near impossible. Maybe down to the organisers? I appreciate bands don’t want to give up their slot to someone else but until younger bands become part of the circuit the younger audiences are going to stay away. Something needs to be done to keep traditional jazz alive in this country.

Simon

Peter Mark Butler ITS WORTH REPEATING SIMON’S STATEMENT: “UNTIL YOUNGER BANDS BECOME PART OF THE CIRCUIT THE YOUNGER AUDIENCES ARE GOING TO STAY AWAY.” THERE ARE SOME OUTSTANDING YOUNGSTERS OUT THERE BUT THEY ARE BY FAR OUTNUMBERED BY THE “OLD RELIABLES”. TIME TO GIVE THE EMERGING BANDS A BOOST FOR THE SAKE OF JAZZ. INDEED, TIME TO START YOUNGER STILL AND ASPIRE TO THE EUROPEAN EXAMPLE – JAZZ IN SCHOOLS!

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