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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Jazz debate

An excerpt from interesting debate on the use of the name
'jazz 7 Blues by organisers of the upcoming Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues festival

The debate continues
Jazz Notes

by Michael 'Jazzofonik' Edwards
Sunday, November 05, 2006

This writer has put himself in a bit of a pickle, having promised - several times now - a response from Walter Elmore to the concerns and criticisms raised regarding the name and nature of the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival.
Ironically, scheduling has thus far kept Elmore from responding, as he has been running the Jazz Quest artiste search for the festival, out of several of the airline's US gateways as well as preparing for the upcoming Kingston appearance of Air Supply at the National indoor Sports Centre come December (said event will also serve as the launch of the 2007 Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues festival).
Be that as it may, the debate has not abated, and following are comments from Canadian-based Jamaican music commentator and author, Klive Walker and Jamaican jazz legend and founder of the Ocho Rios International jazz festival, Sonny Bradshaw.

Klive Walker wrote:
The following comments are in support of Herbie Miller's article 'Battles Royale: Setting the stage for blues and jazz' published in the October 8, 2006 issue of the Jamaica Observer.
Miller's article exposes the fact that Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival has very little to do with either jazz or blues. Miller is to be commended for sparing the time and having the courage to attempt to educate the organisers of the festival and the festival attendees on the basic and fundamental questions: What is jazz? and what is blues?
I commend Miller because it takes courage to attempt to divest organisers of the thought that Jamaican audiences will only pay in sufficient numbers to see former country and western stars and former r&b and pop stars as part of a festival which tells them it is a jazz and blues festival.
Why courage? Because I am not sure the organisers really care whether they undermine the legacy of jazz or blues. I think they care about the fact that calling it a jazz and blues festival will attract the middleclass and keep the 'grass roots boogooyagga crowd' at bay. They also care that it will be profitable.
The message of the organisers seems to be: This is not meant to be a real jazz and blues festival, it is designed for a particular audience concerned with appearances rather than the quality of music. They probably think Charlie Parker is a type of cigarette and that Trane is a railway line somewhere in New York.

Can these organisers and their audiences be educated and convinced? I am not sure that attempting to convince them is time well spent. Maybe it is better to follow the lead of Calabash and try to affect the taste of individuals who at least show an inclination and desire to understand the art form and what makes quality art. Those legitimate jazz fans in Jamaica and, yes, organisers take note, they do exist, I know some of them personally, and they would welcome a real jazz festival.

Those of us out here in the Diaspora would book our passage well in advance if we had the opportunity to see and hear, on a beach on the north coast, real jazz artistes such as Jazz Jamaica led by British-Jamaican Gary Crosby, Jamaican-Canadian jazz singers Sharron McLeod and Denzal Sinclaire, as well as Americans like, for example, Cassandra Wilson, David Murray, Pharoah Sanders and Sonny Rollins in addition to Monty and Arturo.

Klive Walker, Toronto

Editor's note - Cassandra Wilson was in fact presented at the 2004 Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues, ironically the very year Kenny Rogers made his Jamaican debut.

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