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December 09, 2008


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Michael Steinman

Well said and right on target. The amusing thing -- for ironists like ourselves -- is if the Kennedy Center dismisses jazz artists as having insufficient audience name-recognition, they don't realize that no one under 40 knows Daltrey and Townsend either. Dreck, not cream, rises to the top in these institutional awards. Cheers and thanks! Michael

Bruce Ricker

Well said. And what about Dave Brubeck, who just turned 88 on saturday, Dec 6.

Bruce Ricker


i would say, it's kind of funny i was listening to bab oriley alot the past few days, i read this site everday, i dig all music, especially jazz,
i always thought it was weird how some groups of people get rich and famous for bad imitations of american music, thats marketing, most of the stuff u can tell where it comes from and who was listening to who if u listen, well, when they honor pearl jam next then i'll know this country is going down the tubes, the who can actually play, i used to like their energy, and tommy, if u watch that movie, its pretty much the world right now, at least the western world. great post, i dig this site, with the inteverviews, and man i would like to hear your record collection.


i actually saw some clips of the event on the news, and they had the foo fighters, on, at the gala event, now I know this country is going down the tubes!.

David Tenenholtz

I agree that jazz doesn't get enough praise anymore - it's more common to overlook this great art form. As a former employee of the Kennedy Center, I will say that the Jazz Department there is doing amazing things despite very little of the operating budget of the institution as a whole going towards jazz. While I interned there, we had two jazz shows in the large concert hall--one of which was Terence Blanchard's show. Around that time he was also seated at the Kennedy Center Honors, and invited to The White House. It might not have been an award, persay, but it certainly was a recognition of his impact.

Lastly, here is a link to my review of a recent concert at the KC titled "D.C. and The Duke" -- the show was a part of a NINE DAY FESTIVAL BY THE KENNEDY CENTER highlighting jazz in the nation's capital.


chris schneider

> I suppose destroying instruments
> and celebrating negativity for
> more than 40 years

Of course, I agree with you entirely about how rotten it is of the Kennedy Center people to have overlooked jazz artists. Cela va sans dire, as they say.

Still, though, I don't think that positive attitude or exemplary behavior should be among the criteria for awards. Should the woman who sang "Strange Fruit" receive a pat on the back for being cheery? It's the music that matters, creating the music and performing the music.


There may be some very deserving jazz artists who should be honored. However your cheap shots at Pete Townshend by bringing up his past legal troubles do nothing to strengthen your argument and show a serious lack of character.

David Adler

Honoring jazz musicians shouldn't have to entail trashing musicians in other genres. The sooner we get past this embittered way of thinking, the better.

There's not "something to be said" for Daltrey and Townshend's music. Their music is extraordinary. It has moved millions of people. Should there be a jazz great in the balcony alongside them? Of course. That doesn't mean they're undeserving themselves.

Larry Kart

The Kennedy Center awards, as well as the concept and reality of such actual arts complexes themselves, have always seemed to me like meaningless nonsense when not actively dangerous -- in that they (such awards and arts complexes) suck up money and attention that might have gone elsewhere, where some of the real stuff in the arts is happening. See, for example, accounts of how over the last decade the highly priced touring offshoots of Jazz @LC have killed off the ability of many worthwhile "name" jazz artists of high artistic stature to put together regional tours of colleges and performancing arts centers, as they used to be able to do.)

In particular, such awards (as has become the case with newspaper political endorsements) are in effect advertisements for the institutions themselves, a way of signaling to their semi-imaginary would-be constituencies that the institution is "with them" in some respects. That the zombies in control at the KC wouldn't feel that way about jazz any more is hardly news; though if they did ... well what do zombies do when they come in contact with real people?

Chip Stern

You take a reasonable and even laudatory premise, that jazz is seriously under-represented at the Kennedy Center and elsewhere (such as at our Presdient's inauguration), and then employ a cyclotron to swat flies, including cheap shots at the Who (including buying into the media's feeding frenzy over half-baked allegations from Pete's personal life), let alone the curious notion that a central prmise of the rock opera TOMMY is to mock the disabled. Why is it that a music as compassionate and visonary and inclusive as jazz has to be championed by such embittered and reactionary snobs, and why such intellectually lazy rhetoric must be deployed. We all go through our jazz snobbery phase, but most of us come out. Apparently you never did. Pity.


I'm glad to know I wasn't the only one turned off by the shallow, ill-informed and mean-spirited jabs at Pete Townshend and The Who.

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  • Marc Myers writes on music and the arts for The Wall Street Journal. He is author of "Why Jazz Happened" (Univ. of California Press). Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a Jazz Journalists Association's "Blog of the Year" winner.
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