FROM TC: Here are some stories in honor of Jazz Appreciation Month...


Commentary: Norway funds a thriving jazz scene with its oil wealth

Michelle Mercer, NPR's A Blog Supreme, 4/6/13

In today's strained environment for arts support, the funding wonderland of Norway can incite jealousy. It allots a respectable percentage of its oil wealth to pioneering art, making it a model for exactly what well-spent money for the arts can engender. Especially in jazz. Public support has helped the country's improvised-music scene expand from a handful of artists in the late '60s to a thriving network of recording, performing and educational opportunities today. It's not perfect, of course... but the country's improvised music flourishes largely on public support. [A] wide-open field of possibility for improvising musicians and music presenters may be the most valuable legacy of Norway's public arts support. Ambitious ideas aren't crushed under the weight of impracticality before they can grow and take shape. That could change. Some leaders from the country's political right have called for an end to public arts support. For now, though, most Norwegians still consider art and culture too important to be left entirely to the markets. As long as art is considered a public good, it will pay for Norwegian jazz musicians to dream big -- and write lots of grant applications.


"A new jazz delivery model" is launched in the north of England

Kim Macari, Jazz North website, 3/31/13

On March 21 [at] the Leeds International Jazz Education Conference, representatives from music education hubs, delivery organisations and jazz educators from across the North [met to] discuss the diverse programmes of work currently offered. Nigel Slee opened the session with a brief presentation about Jazz North, describing the structure of the new jazz development agency [which is supported by Arts Council England's strategic funding from October 2012 to March 2015, investing up to 475,000 over 3 years].  He highlighted the aim of Jazz North as being about building a new jazz delivery model based on collective partnerships and to increase the profile of contemporary jazz artists living in the North. In the last 6 months, Jazz North has worked with Live Music Now on a schools outreach project in North Yorkshire, a youth jazz orchestra project in Sunderland with the Great North Big Band Festival and a brass project led by the New York Brass Band in the North East.


A jazz rebirth in New York City's Harlem neighborhood

Kia Gregory, The New York Times, 3/29/13

The Lenox Lounge shut down on Dec. 31 after a bitter lease dispute between the club's owner and his landlord. For the moment, at least, plans for two versions of the Lenox Lounge are unfolding in parallel: one in the storied original location; the other up the street, with the lounge's fabled interior and trademarked name. They will have company. [An] investor plans to reopen the legendary jazz haunt Minton's Playhouse, which before a recent short-lived run had been closed for almost as much of its raucous 75-year history as it had been open. Maybe it's a long shot. But within the neighborhood's current economic remix, three businessmen have latched onto the same dream at the same time: reviving a piece of vintage Harlem with a jumping, jamming jazz spot, that this time will outlive the past. Getting the music right might be the hardest part. Anyone trying to resurrect a jazz haunt has to face the question of what the music means to Harlem today, said Loren Schoenberg, artistic director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. "There's a lot of ghosts in that neighborhood, and these places are trying to capture what was a very complicated past. The challenge is not to romanticize it with some corny representation." Jazz in its heyday, Schoenberg said, was not a throwback -- "it was vital, young, popular music." Richard Parsons, board chairman of the Jazz Foundation of America, [is behind the reopening of] Minton's Playhouse. "There are people in this town who remember the days of elegance, and the days of style and class. And they love jazz.... Jazz, like other types of music, it changes, it morphs, and it finds new audiences."


Kids learn to listen when live jazz comes to a Colorado school cafeteria

Jenny Brundin, NPR Weekend Edition, 4/14/13

School lunch is often synonymous with loud noise. Studies have shown the decibel level in some cafeterias is as high as a lawn mower. Every so often, though, students at Alice Terry Elementary School, southwest of Denver, are asked not to make any noise. When the music teacher told students they'd occasionally have a "silent" lunch break, kindergartner Alyssa Norquette [asked]: "Is it because we're too loud or something?" But that's not music teacher Ami Hall's reason. She knew students here didn't have a lot of exposure to live instruments, so she started asking musicians to come in at lunch. "When you give the kids a chance to hear something that is outside of their range, it allows them to be curious," she says, "and if they're curious, they're better learners in every subject." Students soon were hearing a shiny gold saxophone played by Harold Rapp, a local musician. The kids were entranced. As Hall had theorized, being quiet at lunch allowed them to think about what they were hearing. "It calms me down, and it makes my heart beat slow instead of fast," second-grader Edson Jimenez says.

Breaking the 'brass ceiling': women who left their mark on jazz

David Brent Johnson, NPR's A Blog Supreme, 3/29/13

The narrative of jazz history often credits the music as a powerful, progressive force for racial integration in American culture. But what about gender equality? On that score, jazz in its first few decades would have to be given a less than stellar grade. Jazz critic George Simon embodied the belief of many when he wrote that "only God can make a tree, and only men can play good jazz." Although female singers were generally accepted and often spotlighted with the big bands, female instrumentalists found the going much more difficult. While the draft depleted the ranks of male musicians in the World War II years, creating opportunities for female players and the so-called all-girl bands, the attitudes of most bandleaders, promoters and bandstand colleagues remained in keeping with Simon's sentiment. In spite of this brass ceiling, numerous female artists -- such as trombonist and arranger, conductor Ina Ray Hutton, vibraphonist Marjorie Hyams, pianist and guitarist Mary Osborne -- managed to make significant contributions. Today the environment is more hospitable for female musicians, exemplified recently by drummer Terri Lyne Carrington's The Mosaic Project grabbing top Grammy honors for Best Jazz Vocal album in 2012. Here are five more women (two of them alive and active) who have left their mark on jazz history in leadership roles.


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Commentary: How good marketing strategies are like good jazz music

David Herman, Raffetto Herman Strategic Communications blog, 3/23/13

Often, traditional marketing follows a prescribed approach to the traditional marketing mix - the four Ps of product, placement, pricing, and promotion - and the more modern mix - the four Cs of consumer, cost, communication, and convenience. These are the cornerstone of marketing and important to consider, but it is their arrangement, rhythm, and tone that could take a lesson from jazz. Instead of creating a harmony of efforts that work in direct concert with one another (think barbershop quartet), an innovative approach to marketing should be dynamic, using conflicting techniques, and shifting toward the areas of traction. In jazz music, the use of improvisation means each performance is different, often affected by the audience listening. A good marketing strategy needs to do the same. By using different themes and avenues, a company can reach a broader customer base with the ability to shift its campaign based on response.

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