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Smooth no more March 8, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio.
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A few days before scheduled to occur, the Oasis Contemporary Jazz Awards were canceled.  My friend Katherine Gilraine, who was supposed to co-present, is rightfully perturbed:


To say that I’m angry is an understatement, and not just because they have canceled the event so close to the wire. Generally, you don’t cancel shows this close in advance. Bad ticket sales are one thing, but if it’s obvious that the ticket sales are dismal – which, believe me, is not something that a promoter misses over an extended period of time – you let people know in advance. Because that way, they can plan on alternatives.

What really raised my hackles is the way that the advertising was – or in this case, wasn’t – done for this event, and the producers are pulling out the “smooth jazz radio is dead” card as the reason why ticket sales were bottomed. Similarly, it pisses me off that the article above [This article. –MC] suggests that the artists drop the “smooth” moniker and “start making real music.”

What part of this music isn’t real, I ask? Seriously. What part of this music isn’t real if the cruises are booked a year in advance to the gills, the festivals are a hit, new artists are voluntarily entering the genre, and the listeners have gotten involved in more than one grassroots petition to bring the stations back?

You can read the rest at the link on the words “rightfully perturbed.”  She goes on to say that smooth or contemporary jazz is real music.  And I agree.  But her post hit close to home because I relied heavily on contemporary jazz in my time at Evening Jazz on WCWP, a format that is supposed to be perhaps a little c-jazz, but mostly other sub-genres of jazz and jazz-inspired music from other genres.  I got by for seven months without incorporating all of that, but chose to step down when I was told I had to.

Outside of c-jazz fan friends and musician friends, few people I know believe the genre Kat and I love is real music.  They think it’s elevator music, it sucks, it gives them a headache, they hate it and the artists, they whine about a lack of vocals (“where are the words?”), it’s lovemaking music, and other complaints.  Some of it could be considered lovemaking music, but I don’t think of that when I listen or talk about it on the air.  If I hadn’t been introduced to c-jazz, new age, and traditional jazz in the Local Forecast on The Weather Channel when I was young, I’d probably think the same way as those that bash it.  I’m glad I discovered it.

While on the subject, I have good news.  I’ll be heading back to the Boulton Center in Bay Shore on Tuesday, March 22, to see Eric Marienthal, and to Houndstooth Pub in Manhattan on Saturday, April 16, for Brian Simpson.  Expect recaps of both.

3/9 UPDATE: It appears Kat’s dark cloud has a silver lining:

Not 24 hours past since I put up my last post regarding the abrupt cancellation of the Oasis Contemporary Jazz Awards, and already the wheels have been set into motion. Before Tuesday elapsed, Ken Levinson, Bruce Nazarian, the artists, the people at Anthology, the people at Spaghettini’s, and everyone else who was left in the lurch by this turn of events had pulled together and engineered what has become known now as the Lemonade Weekend.

This astounds me, in the very best of ways. This is exactly why I call jazz “Our Music” when I’m with fellow fans. We took a failed, poorly-marketed event, and turned it into a makeshift festival. I’m not sure who will be part of this makeshift festival, but there is much to be said for the tenacity, gumption, and love that we have for the artists.

We, the fans, made this happen.

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