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March 21, 2010


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Keith Hedger

Jeff Hegelson runs a great jazz trumpet site ( too. He's well known in the trumpet community on the net from his intelligent,incisive thoughts and advice. Nice to see you mention his CD.

Ed Leimbacher

Maybe you noticed? America has no use for its elderly, devoting its attention instead to the Cult of Youth. (More like the Adult Uncouth, I'd say--but, then, I'm 67. Jamie Cullum, you suggest? Pfui. Let him learn to carry a tune as well as an attitude.) You're over 50? Then we need a younger and cheaper replacement, someone we don't have to pay benefits to.

Gentlemen like Hank Jones, Sonny Rollins, Dave Brubeck, et al (and not forgetting Marian McPartland, Nancy Wilson, and her-ever else) should be viewed as national treasures, regularly honored while they still live and breathe and play. PBS and the National Arts groups manage to recognize a few white-haired (and -skinned too, more often) Jazz musicians, but the scores of networks and cable channels are aimed at folks under 40.

This audience supposedly responds only to novelty, irony, sarcasm; to celebrities, current trends, and so-called "reality TV," anchored by sexy bods and fatuous minds. Age is agony, dignity they don't dig, and they just ain't much jazzed by Jazz.

And if I haven't spouted enough Old Fogey cliches yet, there's always... Youth is wasted on the young, and: Too soon oldt, too late schmart.

Jazz and Jazz musicians sadly fit right in there somewhere.

jeff helgesen

Thanks for the kind words regarding the CD!

I think the situation in the lead musing has as much to do with the decline in the general quality of broadcast television as anything else. Much of the arts programming which was commonplace on network and metro affiliates in the early 60s has been relegated to local public TV affiliates.

60 Minutes has done some nice pieces on jazz musicians, notably the segment on Ray Charles...but it's a news magazine, and those last-segment bits are, I think, largely regarded as fluff to soften the hard news stuff they treat at the beginning.

And...the competition for viewers is entirely different now than it was in the 60s. Cable and satellite channels so fragment the viewership that it's hard to offer quality programming that will appeal only to a small piece of the viewing public.

Sad, as again, it has moved broadcasters from the role as "publishers" of information to purveyers of entertainment...

Scott Foster

It's ironic that whenever a jazz musician gets mainstream media coverage, is given an award, or gets a high-profile concert, you can count on seeing angry complaints in jazz blogs that the coverage, award or concert should have gone to a different jazz musician instead. Derek's story on 60 Minutes is compelling to the wider audience because of his disability, and was worthy of being revisited. Jazz fans should be pleased that Brubeck and Peterson were not only mentioned in the piece but that Derek demonstrated their styles - a pretty sophisticated thing to see on 60 Minutes. For that to trigger a complaint that Brubeck himself wasn't on the show, or that Dick Hyman wasn't, because he can play in different styles too, is nitpicking at best. Sure, it would be great to have more coverage of jazz in general, but the impulse to criticize the choices that were made for the coverage that it was given isn't constructive.

wen mew

i worked for NBC NEWS for 11 years in chicago, and even though there were many what i considered jazz stories during that time, none ever made it on the air. i was the only person interested in jazz, as i'm a professional musician.
CBS SUNDAY MORNING was the only network show with regular jazz stories, a pretty pathetic situation for america's only original contribution to the world of music.


John P. Cooper

Also - I think Father Norman J. O'Conner aka 'The Jazz Priest" had his week-end afternoon Jazz show on WCBS in NYC. First and only time I ever heard/saw Charles Lloyd in action.

John P. Cooper

Beleaguered for many decades, Johnny Ray seems like a colossus compared to today's sorry lot of pop 'singers'.

Michael Steinman

It's a day late to think of this, but look at the logo on the side of the television camera -- the specific date unknown, but probably ten years before THE SOUND OF JAZZ. Halcyon days!

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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