After reading, Did the American songbook kill jazz?, and discussing with some friends on Facebook, the following stream of consciousness occurred to me…
We measure dead-or-aliveness by whether something (or someone) makes a lot of money, and especially compared to the relative amount of money made by other things/people. By that standard classical music and jazz are both dead.
To artists, especially someone like Miles Davis, the art they made 10 minutes ago is now dead, never to be revisited again (except for commercial reasons…).
When an artist starts making art primarily for commercial reasons, it’s no longer art. It’s entertainment. Not that there’s anything wrong with entertainment, but it ain’t art, at least not most of the time (I don’t not love me some double negatives!).
Artists we now revere were/are often considered heretics until long after they’re gone, and most don’t care what their audience thinks about them or their production (as long as they’re eating, I suppose).
To the extent jazz is dead in America, its birthplace, that doesn’t mean it’s dead. Just go to Europe or other parts of the world where jazz is thriving.
Jazz won’t be dead as long as there’s somebody who is compelled to make it and someone who’s compelled to listen to it.
Of course, once we decide the jazz is not dead, we’re going to have to move on to that other favorite question, “What is jazz?”
Not that this is directly on point, but I’m reminded of a lyric from Gil Scott Heron:
**“If everybody believed in peace the way they say they do, we’d have peace. The only thing wrong with piece is you can’t make no money from it.”**