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March 14, 2010

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Michael Steinman

Dear Marc,

Alas, in the land of the fake and shallow, something real appears fake to those who don't know -- thus the young people at the bar no longer know how to tap their foot even when the band is swinging irresistibly, and the best they can do is to imitate what they think of as wildly convincing foot-patting ... but they give it up after seven and a half bars and turn back to their iPhone, which (of course) is the truly real attention-getter. But to ask "Can jazz have meaning?" in the land of the fake and home of the shallow might be too grim a question. John Milton's apt quotation, for me, is "Fit audience, though few." If someone in the club is listening, the musicians know this. And jazz will always have meaning, a meaning not measured by its pop rankings, CD sales, or audience figures. If we don't embrace that larger vision, we might sink into despair . . . and despair is difficult to climb out of. Thanks for provoking thoughts -- as always! Cheers, Michael

Ed Leimbacher

Wisely observed and finely stated, but where would Jazz be without those venerable "Fake Books"? Comping and chording encouraged--allowing those not quite in the know to fit right in. (I'm not a musician, so this may not be totally accurate.) Even the greatest players had a few false starts.

Doug Zielke

Micheal wrote:
"If someone in the club is listening, the musicians know this."

Indeed. And as long as they are playing *jazz*, I'll be out there digging them!

Scott Foster

In a rose-colored-glasses set of recollections of the good old days, when "America valued integrity," unlike today, when politicians didn't cheat on their spouses, unlike today, and when "phonies were weeded out in jam sessions," unlike today (when presumably one can go to any of the numerous public jam sessions in NYC and suffer a spectacle of phonies operating with total impunity), Marc draws a sharp contrast between the worst aspects of 2010 and the best aspects of 1950. Alternatively, one could draw an equally sharp contrast between the best aspects of 2010 and the worst aspects of 1950 if one were so inclined.

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  • Marc Myers writes frequently on music and the arts for the Wall Street Journal. He is author of "Why Jazz Happened" (University of California Press). In 2012, JazzWax was named the Jazz Journalists Association's "Blog of the Year."

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