Today is International Jazz Day. UNESCO created this celebratory day in 2011 to promote “the virtues of jazz as an educational tool, and a force for peace, unity, dialogue and enhanced cooperation among people.”
The centerpiece of the celebration is a concert that has already taken place in Osaka, Japan, featuring Toshiko Akiyoshi, John Beasley (musical director), Kris Bowers, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Terri Lyne Carrington, Theo Croker, Sheila E., Pete Escovedo, Roberta Gambarini, Kenny Garrett, James Genus, Roy Hargrove, Lalah Hathaway, Terumasa Hino, Earl Klugh, Marcus Miller, T.S. Monk, Gregory Porter, John Scofield, Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Lew Tabackin, Steve Turre and other internationally acclaimed artists. Not a bad lineup, right? (Video of the concert will be available to stream on-demand shortly.)
Naturally, I’m a fan and supporter of this concept. Spreading the reach of jazz is a big part of what we do at Jazz24 and what I do as a musician, educator and writer. And while putting on a huge concert and talking about it is wonderful, I find myself thinking on a more local and sustainable level.
So I ask you: How will you celebrate International Jazz Day?
Your first thought is probably to listen to a bunch of your favorite jazz musicians, share videos on YouTube, talk up Miles and Monk and Trane to anyone who will listen. Bravo! That’s a great start. Get to it!
That being said, if you really want to support the music, I have a three suggestions that may be beyond the obvious. And they all have to do with bring jazz into the now:
1. In between your Facebook posts and video shares of the long-gone greats of jazz, share some of the living legends of the music. Just this month I’ve featured living artists on our Song Of The Day Posts such as Gretchen Parlato, Ingrid Jensen, Brian Blade, Vijay Iyer, Esperanza Spalding, Roy Hargrove and Darcy James Argue. If none of those artists float your boat, that’s cool. Find some who do and hip your friends to them! The best promotion musicians can receive is you saying to your friend, “Hey, have you heard so-and-so? They are really great and I think you’ll dig them.” That kind of help is crucial and priceless for artists to survive.
2. Buy music from one or more of your favorite living jazz artists, and try if you can to buy directly from the artist. Buying from iTunes or Amazon or your local record store is great, but at best, the artist receives 60 cents on the dollar. Most artists these days sell their own music as well, at their shows and on their websites. Many use Bandcamp, a great tool for musicians! And the artists make much more money if you buy directly from them.
3. Go see some live music! If not tonight, then get out this weekend and support one of your local jazz venues. The musicians need you, the venues need you, the scene needs you! Without an audience for live music, the music cannot survive. And while you’re there, buy a CD (see previous point).
Jazz music is alive and thriving all over the planet. Whether you’re in New York, Kansas City, Seattle, Kalamazoo or Bergen, there’s music happening all around you! Take the initiative to do something to support your local scene and the music will continue to thrive. Plus, you’ll be enriched, uplifted and enthralled — trust me.
Jason Parker is a Seattle-based jazz trumpet player, educator and writer. His band, The Jason Parker Quartet, was hailed by Earshot Jazz as “the next generation of Seattle jazz.” Find out more about Jason and his music at jasonparkermusic.com.