Roy Eldridge

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The Rift

Right at the same time that jazz got more complex, was right when the Beatles and Elvis introduced themselves to America. Here was something new, fun to listen to and easy to dance to. The new complex jazz could not be danced to. Big bands, and vocalists were listened to by fewer people, and big bands were no longer the top of the charts. Rock and Roll and rhythm and blues became America’s popular music. And the internal fights between jazz players and listeners who prefer traditional and those who preferred modern jazz increased, and the debate even continues today.

The lost years – late 80’s to present. Yes it’s true. Jazz has been on a weird trajectory as of late, and continues to have a smaller and smaller audience. Lots of small signs showed jazz was going off track, such as when Miles went electric, or a drugged up and egocentric jazz guy like Coltrane began played two hour long solos. To make matters worse we had the introduction of “smooth jazz,” and to top it off nowadays venue tickets to live jazz start at 50 bucks.

All pointing to the fact that we’ve all known that jazz is not really a music of the people anymore. To exacerbate the situation, you throw in three or four corporations owning most radio stations, that play the exact same eight songs all across the country, and combine that with the lack of music and arts education in the US school system. It is a very steep hill for jazz to climb to be respected and enjoyed by more people again.