Sandy Brown Jazz

Opportunities For Returning Jazz Musicians

Jeff Matthews' has raised the debate about opportunities for jazz musicians who put away their instruments some time ago and would like to return to playing. Jeff has suggested that we float the idea of putting together a directory of anyone who would be interested and then we would see if we could find ways of making it happen. If you are interested, please contact us.

(from Jon Eno, EMYJO)

Just read the last update. Jeff Matthews sounds like an informed chap. I have to say from my perspective as an educator I get as many requests from mature musicians to learn jazz as I do from young musicians. They are keen and dedicated but do not have the pathway open to them as young musicians do. I have in the past worked on adult-centric jazz education workshops and they were both rewarding and stimulating for all involved. They easily pay their own way, it just takes a little time for an administrator to do the paper work and appropriate advertising, something that arts provision organisations can do easily. I'd happily work on more adult projects if someone helped get them off the ground (promotion, advertising, handling of funds). As time goes by and my educational work expands I will look into offering something along these lines. Has anyone tried the Adult Education courses I use to do jazz versions?

On a side note, to ensure an audience for tomorrow the focus on youth has to be paramount, their musical involvement and enjoyment will ensure a healthy, living art form. Long Live Jazz in all its multifaceted glory!

(from Jeff Matthews)

Thank you for placing my words on the site. Interestingly, I joined a jam session this week at a pub on the Shropshire/Welsh borders. It was well attended but there wasn't one musician under 40 and most were retiredmen and women who had come back to music when they had time to pursue it. Some notable players were extremely good and were able to show a path to the less experienced but enthusiastic members.

This is the second 'band of oldies' that I have played with in recent months. Another in Cardiff, supported by Martin Butterworth, a wonderful reeds player, now goes out and does local gigs. This is no competition to the established bands but additional promotion for the older style of jazz. But Martins 'mentorship' has born fruit - and it is good! Again, there is no one under 50 years of age in this band. However, there is also no 'gate' closed against younger enthusiasts. There just is not the interest from that quarter. Why should there be?

My own band played a 90th (60 + 30) combined birthday party last Saturday. We played the older numbers, not because we can't play modern stuff, but because that jazz style is generally more acceptable to a 'non-jazz' audience. Yes - we did have youngsters in their early 20's dance enthusiastically to this jazz - they cheered and clapped because it is fun music and accessible.

We will see Traditional, pre 1950's style jazz disappear in the next 20 years unless it is preserved by those that remember it when it was still popular. It has to be handed on. Develop it and change it, keep it from going mouldy, but keep the style. That can only be done by older, experienced musicians. The revivalist movement of the 1940's in the USA was headed by older guys, not by 20 year olds. But once shown to be a valid and popular art form, it was followed by younger people and copied - in the UK for instance. But the older guys had to do it first.

Just my thoughts.


(from Jeff Matthews)
I wrote a letter at the beginning of 2007 to 'Just Jazz' magazine expressing my wish that jazz should not become wholly 'Youth Orientated'. Amongst 'Traditional Jazz' enthusiasts it is sometimes felt as if any person under 20 who shows any interest in early jazz is some kind of messiah, a saviour of this form of jazz. I exaggerate here - a little. Whilst an interest in early jazz forms and jazz generally by young people is something to be fully welcomed and encouraged, it is not the only direction from which new converts and new players should be encouraged to come.

I suggested in my letter to 'Just Jazz' that there are quite a few people who are middle aged and older who would love to play traditional jazz if only they had the chance of learning how. Most of these people will be those who put instruments in the attic/loft space when family commitments forbad them from following music. Often it is as simple as which tunes should be learnt, in what keys. It then becomes a matter of practise up to a reasonable standard, finding other musicians of like mind, and playing the music together. Those more ambitious traditional jazz musicians must be able to find a 'mentor', or a teacher conversant in Traditional Jazz rather than Be-Bop/modern jazz and all those modes, and there should be style specific jazz courses on offer. That doesn't seem to be the case at present in the UK apart from one or two exceptions which are not heavily promoted as such.

If the above reasoning sounds anywhere near sensible to readers, may I suggest a list of Mentors and Trad Jazz style teachers and on another list, names and details of those musicians who want those services?

May I also suggest that those that become proficient enough to form a band and are entertaining enough, might be invited to play during the interval at local jazz clubs? This would give those new bands experience and would increase the entertainment value for audiences.

© Sandy Brown Jazz 2007 - 2014

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