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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Wild Thorn Jam Gate and the Younger Jazzanation? By Steve H

Many, many years ago I was invited to a wedding on the same day as an important relegation fixture between Brentford and Portsmouth. I came up with the Hitchcockian idea that one could be in two places as once. After getting my wife’s blessing ‘do what you think you must’, I snuck out of the wedding reception while no one was watching, drove to Griffin Park and then returned to the wedding party after the match. My hopes of no once noticing my absence were shot down in flames as soon as I bumped into the first person who asked if I enjoyed the match. Funnily enough, despite getting what I thought was permission to go, this episode is still used against me by my long-suffering partner to this day.

Roll forward a quarter a century and I thought I would try this manoeuvre one more time, albeit in different circumstances. A young colleague was drumming at a gig for his heavy metal band Wild Thorn at Trillians in town and a large group of workmates had gone along to support him. My dilemma was that there was a gig at the Jazz Café on the same night. Time to unroll the Hitchcock manoeuvre once more, surely nothing could possibly go wrong this time. I turned up early at Newcastle’s finest heavy metal emporium saw the first number then snuck out of the now darkened venue down to Pink Lane to enjoy a very enjoyable set from AlexanderBone’s Jam Experiment (see photo courtesy of Mike Tilley). I returned with impeccable timing to Trillians and was able to catch the encore of the rock outfit. Mission accomplished - or so I thought.  Unfortunately, the drummer had clocked me leaving. He was singularly unimpressed. I think the fact I’d gone to a jazz gig added insult to injury.

What is it with the younger generation and jazz? It is a feature of most jazz gigs that I attend that the musicians are the youngest people in the room. In fact, a contemporary jazz audience has so many older attendees I’m surprised Saga don’t get in on the act and start sponsoring gigs. Clearly there is no shortage of young people coming through the UK jazz scene. I doubt if the variety and quality of playing has ever been better. It’s just a shame that so many of their peer group seem to shun the music.

Three months prior to ‘Wild Thorn Jam Gate’ I took a  group of young work colleagues to see The Dead Hedge Trio at the Jazz Café a few years ago. It wasn’t a bad gig (see review) but they hated it; half of them couldn’t wait to leave after the first set. A post-mortem on the gig seemed to focus more on the occasional spittle which had left the enthusiastic saxophonist’s mouth rather what they had listened to. These were clever bright professional people. One of the admirable traits of this generation is their obsession with physical fitness. Obviously, this is a good thing - it’s just a shame they aren’t prepared to exercise their minds in the same way they do their bodies. It is not just music they are blinkered to. Rarely do they visit art galleries, see anything other than Marvel movies or read serious literature. Harry Potter and his Game of Thrones seems to be the cultural zenith for these young professionals. What is wrong with the younger jazzanation?

Something needs to be done to entice these future captains of industry to gigs. Unlike the standard Victor Meldrew style jazz audience, these people drink. So rather than the venue selling at best a single drink each set per customer, bar sales could be exponentially lifted if only we could entice the more youthful element through the jazz doors.  Just as one begins to despair, there appears to be a resurgence of interest in the big cities. Artists such as Kamasi Washington sell out and Camden’s Jazz Café is frequently packed to the rafters with young groovers so maybe all is not lost.  Jazz will never have mass appeal (we wouldn’t like it if it did) but along as enough new people keep on dipping their toes in the improvised waters maybe there is a future for this finest of musical art forms to prosper.

By the way, for anyone interested in the result of the football match we lost one nil and were relegated at the end of the season but as Miles Davis would say ‘So What?’
Steve H

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Kind of blue then?

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