Monday, August 2, 2010

Jazz, Younger Generation and a Fragmented World

If I be judged by my age, I belong to what Marc Myers of JazzWax calls "F" generation. "The "F" here stands for "flighty," and anyone who has watched people in their 20s listen to music today knows what I'm talking about. Songs in iTunes libraries and on iPods serve mostly as white noise for this demographic group. Music is what you put on while working, organizing photos on your computer, i-Chatting or texting," Says Myers.

This statement or misunderstanding of it caused a blogging debate in Running the Voodoo Down and A Blog Supreme. Later Myers moderate his views by a new post and an explanation that "Young people are smart and jazz will survive. But jazz will certainly have a harder time winning over those who don't have the patience to listen—or read—carefully."

Myself, as an observer of what happening to serious music (any kind, from Classical to Jazz, from Blues to Rock, whatever moves people and transcend them), and also one who live outside United States, where is still less digitalized than States, must say that Marc is somehow right and most of my generation, but definitely not all of them, are seriously affected with the phenomenon of fragmentation and they are unable to make the whole picture from those fragments. But:
1) If we consider jazz culture a whole, made of thousands of recorded works and written texts, still there are portions of truth in every little bit of it and in every fragment of a broken mirror, still the whole picture exists.

2) We are living in a fragmented world, don’t we? So how can we expect to reach that “wholeness,” not only in jazz but in any other field of art. Just take a look at contemporary architecture or cinema. Compare an anti-Fascist film like Ernst Lubitsch’s To be or not to be with a recent anti-Fascist/Fascist flick like Inglourious Basterds. Compare works by unknown masters and those who build Gothic Cathedrals with a Zaha Hadid or Daniel Libeskind. It is simply the features of the age we are living in. We may like it, or we may not, but that’s it.

But now I think the main question is “what can we do?” We, jazz lovers, blogger, writers, whatever you call us, have this task of helping younger generations to get close to that essential image, as we try to find the answers and get close ourselves, of course if we believe in such a decisive image.


1 comment:

  1. Ehsan: A good read. I do believe you almost get it. And from an old jazzer who knew it, blew it, and grew with it, that's a compliment.

    Point is, Marc has a pretty good handle on what has evolved in the state of recorded jazz , which is only to be expected with all the technology available to music buffs over the past 40 years. While today's generation of 20-somethings have massive sound bytes at their listening disposal, they really only have time to skim. Perhaps too much of a good thing? And that which suffers the most is a diminishing jazz audience that came from a period of focused attention. Unfortunately, a lot of us focused folks are dying off. But jazz will never suffer from a dirt nap. There will always be an audience, just one that’s smaller and more selective than the main stream music buffs who think they know what makes jazz go today.