Friday, January 18, 2013

With Acts Like Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac and Willie Nelson, Jazz Should Be More Popular




© Andrea Canter

Jazz is dead. Jazz is too cerebral. Jazz doesn’t sell. I can’t figure it out. The biggest names in the music business are performing at “jazz clubs” and “jazz festivals.” How can it be that jazz is not more popular these days?

I just got a promotion for the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, held in mid-spring.  The promo carries a poster-like image of festival headliners—Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel, the Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Widespread Panic, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Frank Ocean, Willie Nelson, Maroon 5. Reading below the image, there’s a more complete listing, including B.B. King; Earth, Wind and Fire; Phoenix; Little Big Town….  If you keep scrolling you find George Benson, Dianne Reeves, Joshua Redman, Stanley Clarke and George Duke, Wayne Shorter. Apparently not enough of a draw to list as “jazz festival” headliners but at least they will be on the schedule. Jazz fans will find them. And who knows, maybe the expected hoards jamming the park to hear Billy Joel will somehow find themselves drawn to a Wayne Shorter set. I guess this is the new strategy to revive interest in jazz?  Maybe it will work. Heck, I would even stop by to hear Billy Joel enroute to Wayne’s set.