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Did the recording industry help destroy jazz?
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cjm



Joined: 16 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:41 pm    Post subject: Did the recording industry help destroy jazz? Reply with quote

Was having a discussion with my son the other day, and I pointed out to him that music had been ephemeral until the 20th century and something only experienced in live performance.

Then came the recording industry and within the course of a few decades the art became identified with albums.

And in the course of that, music became a manufactured product which produced sounds from playback equipment -- sounds that were manufactured in a studio using technology that couldn't be employed on the bandstand and performance "art" that couldn't be performed on the bandstand.

All this, with the consequence that "live performance" is routinely accepted with a band miming and lip synching to a studio produced product piped into a stack of amps and PA equipment.

While this last "innovation" isn't associated with jazz, the album as the definiing point of a jazzer's career certainly is. Back in the 1930's, Charlie Christian, "made the big time" with his first legendary performance of Rose Room with Benny Goodman...but Wes Montgomery and Hank Garland's (just as a couple of examples) jazz creds among players and afficiondi today are more from a handful of albums produced in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The 78 and 33 1/3 LP certainly did disseminate the art...but did it, at the same time, destroy it? And did this make it inevitable that "dumbed down" music would replace technically and harmonically sophisticated music (even if less sophisticated than "art" music like jazz and classical forms) to meet production and marketing goals?

Whatchew pipples thunk 'bout this?
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Gorecki
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here’s the way I look at it, certainly recorded media is a ‘shoebox’ form of presentation. Most of the time even in the best of situations it’s contrived, polished, packaged and consumable, much like fast food. There are absolutely great works in this form and of live performances that have been released. But though artists, musicians do wanna make a living….get that ASCAP!

The world has been plagued with paid for commercial product *art* for as long as modern civilization has been in existence. Recorded media is just one more packaging method to the same dumbed down art produced by Mozart or Shakespeare!

The other side of the fence! But what if we didn’t have it? Would we have ever even heard of Bird, Monk, Reinhardt? I have my suspicions a considerable amount of people we are very aware of we wouldn’t be otherwise! And think if media and communications were as wide spread 70 years ago as it is today? How many people that were probably amazing talents we would know about that we don’t know about because they never got seen/captured by some form of media?

I’ve seen even in recent years musicians try to capture that more of creative, live impromptu sort of records and the releases weren’t received very well.

my take on it. Confused
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cjm



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Valid points.

But taking a sort of "alternate universe" view...what if public/cultural attitudes toward art and entertainment had been a bit different, and recording had remained more what it was in its earliest days...basically an archival technology...a means of preserving some record of performance art and not the venue of performance or manufactured "consumer goods"?
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Henryrobinett



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great topic. I've mulled over this one a lot.

First off I think you have to look to see where this decline in jazz took place. The existence of jazz took place during the entire recording industry, so it's hard to tell exactly.

My very bizarre take:

Music, as was originally "designed" and experienced, I think has mainly to do with the time stream. I think THAT'S what makes music as an art form so unique. It's a live, real time time stream. Musicians almost seem to manipulate this time stream for the listeners and the listeners participate, or it doesn't work. Yes acting, movies, etc also manipulate time, but without music, there's no measuring stick of time to allow the audience to participate and predict events in the same way and with more or less dead on accuracy.

Recording violated some aspects of this, when we allowed overdubbing to occur. For the first time the audience was fooled. Even when they know it's true the listener "pretends" the recorded events are happening all at once. Music becomes a manufactured thing for profit alone. I think the psycho-acoustic violation has left its effects. This is not necessarily good for jazz, which is a live, real time art form at it's core. Not that it can't be other things too. But collective improvisation means, to the audience generally, something done together.

I don't think recorded music hurt jazz per se, but music as a whole. I think music was more powerful when it was a community thing, family, tribal, gathering call, spiritual sharing of emotions. Now when everyone listens to music with earbuds, mostly, it's become an introverting thing. Something you do on your own so as not to disturb others by forcing them to hear your music.

I think rock and roll did more harm to jazz than recorded music, necessarily did. When music became an everyman thing - a lot of people decided they were their own experts, which was good, but then when they couldn't play anything beyond three of four chords, they started invalidating what was beyond their reach by calling jazz musicians "wankers." And music became a commodity that was free to the public in terms of radio, elevator music. It was highly valued by the advertisers as they saw the value in seeing/selling their product by having well placed music behind the products image, but devalued by the public because they could get it for free. SO the ART IN MUSIC was not valuable. Music was only what could sell, or pick up, or dance - it was a PRODUCT that was a means to an end, rather than the thing itself.

Jazz fans, like classical fans, still see the music as being art. More and more this is a foreign idea.
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PaulD



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:40 am    Post subject: Re: Did the recording industry help destroy jazz? Reply with quote

cjm wrote:
...All this, with the consequence that "live performance" is routinely accepted with a band miming and lip synching to a studio produced product piped into a stack of amps and PA equipment.

While this last "innovation" isn't associated with jazz, ...


Well...I just saw this clip yesterday and though "Oh man, even Bird & Hawk did it before Milli Vanilli"

It's actually kind of funny

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icgOSGyx3nM

Paul
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cjm



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess the idea lurking in the recesses of what passes for my mind is something akin to the traditional view of Navajo sand painters...back before sand paintings were made on a wet epoxy base to preserve them.

Photographs were taken of them, and that was acceptable, but the sand paintings themselves were not created to last as an artifact or to serve as a record of themselves.
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toddinjax



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The recording industy destroyed the potential for MOST musicians in any style or genre to make a living as a musician.
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Henryrobinett



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think piracy did that. Not the recording industry. The recording industry also gave larger careers and disseminated the music beyond the artists territory.
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cjm



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Henryrobinett wrote:
I think piracy did that. Not the recording industry. The recording industry also gave larger careers and disseminated the music beyond the artists territory.


Well, it did that for players in the upper echelons (assuming they made some money with their recordings -- some apparently didn't make much) but what about the "journeyman" players all across the country?

I would hazard to guess that on average, only about 10% as many small clubs in small markets have live music today as did even as recently as 30 to 40 years ago, and even where live music is still offered, it's likely to be only two or maybe three nights per week -- not four, or five, or even six nights.

I used to know a lot of guys who made a living with music...playing small clubs in small markets. Most weren't jazzers, but a lot of them would play a jazz set most nights -- that sort of thing.

I still know a lot of players, but I don't know anyone -- or know OF anyone within a two hour drive of my home who can support themselves by playing. Most teach, either in college or public schools, a few maintain a herd of private students -- but all are either holding "day jobs" or are retirees who only earn a bit of supplemental income by playing...and even then, mostly just enough to partially subsidize their music habit.

But almost EVERYONE is listening to canned music all day long.
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Henryrobinett



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh no. Most wouldn't make money from the recordings. But exposure sure did help. They were then able to tour europe and the states and asia. Without these recordings no one would know who they were beyond their own territory.

People heard rumors of this Charlie Parker guy during the war, but few outside NYC heard him. Then Ko Ko was released and then they knew. He blew minds world wide.
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cjm



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Henryrobinett wrote:
Oh no. Most wouldn't make money from the recordings. But exposure sure did help. They were then able to tour europe and the states and asia. Without these recordings no one would know who they were beyond their own territory.

People heard rumors of this Charlie Parker guy during the war, but few outside NYC heard him. Then Ko Ko was released and then they knew. He blew minds world wide.


True, but even as his albums blew minds around the world, he was confronting a decline in opportunity for money gigs at the clubs...even though Bebop was the beginning of small, less expensive, combos in jazz. The era marked the demise of big band jazz, and the beginning of the end for the big Texas swing groups. Rock bands were small, country bands got smaller, and finally today, there aren't many paying gigs for duos and solo players.
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Henryrobinett



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cjm wrote:
Henryrobinett wrote:
Oh no. Most wouldn't make money from the recordings. But exposure sure did help. They were then able to tour europe and the states and asia. Without these recordings no one would know who they were beyond their own territory.

People heard rumors of this Charlie Parker guy during the war, but few outside NYC heard him. Then Ko Ko was released and then they knew. He blew minds world wide.


True, but even as his albums blew minds around the world, he was confronting a decline in opportunity for money gigs at the clubs...even though Bebop was the beginning of small, less expensive, combos in jazz. The era marked the demise of big band jazz, and the beginning of the end for the big Texas swing groups. Rock bands were small, country bands got smaller, and finally today, there aren't many paying gigs for duos and solo players.
Yes, there is truth in that. But the decline was WWII and the demise of the big band. Swing was the rock star music of it's day. Bop fulfilled the specialized art house scene. It was never the "Big Time."

But you're missing the really major big paying gigs of rock and roll, soul, R&B. Illinois Jacquet made big money pre rock era, for example.
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cjm



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Henryrobinett wrote:
cjm wrote:
Henryrobinett wrote:
Oh no. Most wouldn't make money from the recordings. But exposure sure did help. They were then able to tour europe and the states and asia. Without these recordings no one would know who they were beyond their own territory.

People heard rumors of this Charlie Parker guy during the war, but few outside NYC heard him. Then Ko Ko was released and then they knew. He blew minds world wide.


True, but even as his albums blew minds around the world, he was confronting a decline in opportunity for money gigs at the clubs...even though Bebop was the beginning of small, less expensive, combos in jazz. The era marked the demise of big band jazz, and the beginning of the end for the big Texas swing groups. Rock bands were small, country bands got smaller, and finally today, there aren't many paying gigs for duos and solo players.
Yes, there is truth in that. But the decline was WWII and the demise of the big band. Swing was the rock star music of it's day. Bop fulfilled the specialized art house scene. It was never the "Big Time."

But you're missing the really major big paying gigs of rock and roll, soul, R&B. Illinois Jacquet made big money pre rock era, for example.


I agree, but we don't really have an art house scene today...where did it go?

And, as to contemporary pop styles...there aren't even many places where that can be heard (setting aside for the moment, the fact that I don't want to hear pop).

The town I live in has about 60,000 people. Up until the mid to late 1970s, I can recall 10 clubs (albeit very small clubs) with live music at least four nights per week. Today there is one (and that's a unique situation for me, because my brother owns it, and opened it as a jazz venue and I can work as a "staff" guitar or bass player as much or more than my health lets me...I played two nights last week...I promised to play Friday night this week). About three other places have music from time time -- never more than three nights -- and only every month or two at that.
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Henryrobinett



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well at least you have a place to play! That's great.

Most cities have some kind of an art house scene. Where I live, Sacramento, has several small places where jazz or folky type quirky poppy music can be played to small interested audiences. I just played last Monday at one. We even have a small cafe where avant-garde music is a regular weekly thing. Arty-bohemian type folks. Not a lot of money though.

And there have always been original or not so original pop bands that are much more popular. I played in several. Where have you been? They're extant in small cities to major ones with local to big name bands. Prince, U2. At one type there was this band called The Beatles that was wildly popular. Laughing
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cjm



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well Henry, of course there's another issue here -- and a reality check:

Your playing and musicianship is at a far higher level than mine. That's not false modesty on my part -- those are the plain facts of the situation.

And so, there are some gigs out there for players like you at the top of the game. A bit sparse, I think you'll admit, if you tried to maintain even a lower middle class life style from playing alone, and even tougher if you chose to work solely in jazz as a performance artist...but as an educator/performer you're making it happen through skill AND hard work.

(And frankly, it's a privilege to have the opportunity to exchange ideas with some one at your level.)

But what I'm talking about is a formerly rich milieu in which -- again, no false modesty -- hack level players like me -- in fact, players who don't even come to my level -- could get by living and working in smaller markets by taking some gigs that weren't to their tastes -- making do by scrimping to cut living expenses.

I didn't want to play anything but jazz...not good enough to break into even the minor leagues...so for me, personally, it was always a matter of having a day job/career outside of music and gigging for fun/beer/grocery money. But I knew plenty of guys who did manage to get by on what they earned through playing alone...even if they played mostly rock and/or country and only veered off into a few near jazz experiments.

Today, even the contemporary rock/blues players my kids' age either have day jobs or still live iwith their folks ten years after they should have moved out on their own, or have conned some young gal into supporting them as "artists."
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