Monday, January 01, 2007

All that Jazz (and all that Jazz) from Bob Rogers

Before KVIL and Bill and Hank and Pegi and Carole and KCAC - I was at WRR in Dallas playing a lot of Blues and Jazz. I was even a stringer for Downbeat Magazine and did a multitude of interviews with Cannonball and Nat Adderly, Roland Kirk, Lou Rawls, and etc. I even got to emcee shows by Louis Armstrong (who had the warmest smile and handshake, ever).

Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wlson and others were part of the scene and life would have been perfect except for the usual adjustments of life and spouses.

So, it is a great read, when you get a Crusaders Newsletter from an old friend like Bob Rogers.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Today's Editiion:

You Say You Want an Evolution
Bob Rogers

“I can’t stand conservatism in Jazz. That’s an absurd concept because if it’s not constantly changing, it’s not art. So a young player coming up today trying to sound like they’re from the 1920s or 1950s and pretending everything afterwards doesn’t exist is just being insincere and it will be apparent in the music. The other thing I don’t like is hearing a bunch of old people putting down younger musicians, claiming they don’t have “wisdom” or “seasoning” in their playing or some other such nonsense. Some people become better musicians with age, some become worse, but the one thing youth has is idealism and (hopefully) optimism. These attributes are priceless, and I’ll take a young player with energy and joy over a seasonal old bitter musician any day.”

Travis Shook
Cadence: the Review of Jazz & Blues: Creative Improvised Music
March 2006

I thought I heard
Buddy Bolden shout,
Open up that window
and let that bad air out.
Open up that window
and let that foul air out.

Yes, I thought I heard
Buddy Bolden say.

Jelly Roll Morton

The International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) meeting will convene its 34th annual convention in New York in a few days. In terms of the number of attendees, it is the world’s largest convocation of jazz advocates. It is also one of the very few “in-person” venues in existence for people engaged in the promulgation of jazz programming on the radio (another being the annual JazzWeek Summit). One of the upcoming IAJE panels is, “Jazz Radio In Crisis: Why That’s A Good Thing.”

As I write this I am sitting at home in North Carolina, listening to WFUV/New York’s Sunday night program, The Big Broadcast, where a 1920’s recording entitled, “Take Me To The Land of Jazz” is playing. Does that 1920s song sound archaic to me? Kind of, but maybe not so much.

I am listening on my computer, which I increasingly regard as my primary receiver. My choices are now global, soon to be easily portable to my car and to my pocket. I am forming a general awareness of what I consider my best choices for listening at any given time. For now, if it’s Sunday night and I’m at home writing and listening to the “radio,” it’s ‘FUV for me. At other times it’s other programs, but it’s always my station, whose programming I am constantly revising as I learn of other options that appeal to me. You are likely having some variation of the same experience.

Until recently I felt lucky to live in a market where there are two full-time jazz stations. That’s still nice but it’s less important than it used to be. What’s really important is to pay the broadband access bill. Now that I have global access and program choice, why should I settle for less? I am elated to have a radio station that is programmed by me, for me, one that can I can easily construct from a content bank of unprecedented range and scope. Life is good!

Music presentations served up in a half-assed manner used to deeply offend me. Luckily, I no longer have to put up with that. If I suspect that the program host doesn’t really know and love the music they present, or if I view them as mere functionaries of a station’s branding efforts, I’ll see you later. Good stations don’t exist in my world, only good programs. A station can put all the effort it wants into establishing its identity to me, but I may not even be aware of those efforts. Really, I’m just looking for good and unique programs with which to construct my own station - the listener as aggregator. That’s my reality.

Music programming in public radio has yielded broadcast hours to talk radio for each of the past several years; the trend continues. For those in jazz programming, that’s one aspect of the crisis (another being jazz radio’s apparent inability to garner a younger audience). It is quite obvious that the landscape is rapidly changing.

I’m happy about our situation in jazz radio because there is nothing so liberating as removing the dead weight of, “That’s how we do it.” It’s the spirit so refreshingly exemplified by the quotation above by jazz pianist Travis Shook (b. 1969). When I read Mr. Shook’s comments, I laughed out loud! When the young don’t occasionally tell the old how it is, there’s trouble afoot and we’re headed for the museum, as exhibits. Thankfully, that’s not yet the case; creative improvised music is very much alive. Respect is a two-way street; good for the old, good for the young. When it only runs one way it’s nothing but oppression and useless, dead weight. Jelly Roll Morton knew that.

Jazz radio has its problems but it also has its opportunities, many of which lie in new approaches to programming and having the whole world in which to apply them. I have very definite ideas about how to proceed from here. I also feel that my ideas are at least as good as anyone else’s (and a closely-held conviction that they’re considerably better). Perhaps you feel the same way about some of your ideas. In the brave new world of “the long tail,” maybe we’re both right! The possibilities make one whistle while one works. So, what’s not to celebrate?

Bob Rogers
2816 Barmettler Street
Raleigh, NC 27607
Bouille & Rogers Consultants
phone: (919) 413-4126


Anonymous said...

Hey Bob, We had Mort Fega here in PHX and Jim Spiro...What was Ira Lavins call letters ???

Bob Gately

Anonymous said...

KXIV Waydio

Bob said...

Or as Mort used to say, K-X-OY-VEY!

Bob Rogers