Thursday, October 22, 2009

This 'n That 'n Missed Opportunity

It’s Thursday. The weekend is approaching. A good time, it seems, to collect miscellaneous thoughts.


Kurt Rosenwinkel is a name known among jazz literati. But while we jazz folk excel at preaching to ourselves, we’re rather rotten at spreading the word beyond our insular blogs, tweets and publications. Which is a shame when a talent like Rosenwinkel comes through town and just 60 or so of us show up at The Blue Room. And especially when the bulk of those 60 are the coveted under-30 youth this music needs to attract.

Rosenwinkel’s performance was entrancing. His solos tell a story. They draw you in with a tight beginning, walk (or jump, or drive) you through the middle, then drop you off at an oh so satisfying conclusion. His is contemporary guitar built on a base of tradition.

Many more people than those of us who showed up Monday night would have thoroughly enjoyed the music. In fact, this music could have introduced a broad range of younger listeners to jazz in 2009. Because Rosenwinkel’s sound is jazz with appeal which broaches the connotation of jazz. As Metheny is known beyond jazz, so could be Kurt Rosenwinkel.

And he might be, were we any good at telling anyone besides ourselves.

The name needs to be more than what’s in the Monday night square of a club calendar. The performance deserved publicity. Where’s the Facebook push (definitely not on the American Jazz Museum, home of The Blue Room, page)? Where’s the tweets? Where’s any social media mention? Where are the links to Rosenwinkel’s music, so others can sample this talent making his first visit to KC? Was a press release released? I knew Rosenwinkel’s name from various jazz blogs and websites. But we need to inform beyond those boundaries. We need to push the introduction to more under-30-somethings through the media they frequent.

With music like this, if we expose it, they will come.

Well, some will. A heckuva lot more than came last Monday, anyway.

The biggest disappointment of Monday night was the opportunity missed to introduce to those outside the jazz circle just how broadly encompassing and accessible and relevant and entertaining this music can be.


A Chicago Tribune critic (here) reviews a book of essays, including some on windy city jazz, starting with this preface:

“But I still hate jazz. The music leaves me cold -- yet perversely, I love the idea of jazz. I love the image of hip, swinging, subversive people who live by their own rules, who revel in melancholy, who blow sexy, dangerous notes in out-of-the-way places.

“It’s just the music I can't stand. It always sounds like rehearsal, not performance. It sounds to me the way a kid's scribbled picture looks: It's the sort of thing only a parent could love.”

I sure hope the Tribune doesn’t send her out to do music reviews.


And staying on the Tribune web site for a moment, a blog post (here) tells that 115,000 CDs (total, not just jazz) were released in the U.S. last year. Only 110 of them sold over 250,000 copies. Only 1500 of them sold over 10,000 copies. And less than 6000 of them sold over 1000 copies.

Daunting figures for anyone hoping to release a CD.

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