Jazz Column: May 2008
The International Association of Jazz Educators, the voice of jazz education in more than 42 countries since 1968, has declared bankruptcy. With over 10,000 members, a thriving annual convention, plenty of local chapters and a number of still-impressive publications, this news was shocking.
The term I’m hearing used most often by those in IAJE is “blind sided,” meaning that even many close to the organization did not realize that massive amount of debt amassed. There are, of course, allegations of IAJE Board mismanagement and other accusations and instances of finger-pointing. Those things go with any Chapter Seven territory.
I have little knowledge of the IAJE management skills past and present. I resigned as an active member a few years ago, as I became frustrated and insulted by the fact that IAJE never mentioned word one about any of our videos, books, DVDs, CDs, or anything else, for that matter
Perhaps this was a part of their problem. It seemed to me that IAJE had the same advertisers, sponsors and supporters year after year after year, and nothing was seemingly ever done to court newer companies, which would include outfits like Hudson Music, Alfred Publishing, EJazzLines, and yes, JazzLegends.com. IAJE chose to believe we just didn’t exist.
Then there is the issue of just how many music-themed conferences can be supported annually, as a big part of the IAJE revenue picture was its big, annual get-together. There are two NAMM (Music Merchandiser) confabs, the Frankfurt Music Fair, the Percussive Arts Convention, and Lord knows what else during the course of 12 months. Just how many of these can be viable in today’s economy? Jazz Improv Magazine has also entered the fray with a convention, and they reportedly did very, very well with it this year in New York city. There is even talk that Jazz Improv may take up some of the IAJE slack in terms of publishing and a convention. Just how that would work or if it would work are questions.
Jazz Improv, as everyone in the industry knows, is almost totally advertising driven, meaning that anything mentioned editorially, by and large, is directly connected to paid ads. This concept has been a mainstay of weekly “shopper”-type newspapers across the country for years. The fact that it’s being applied to jazz, presumably successfully at that, really says something for the publisher. Editorially, though, outside of a column or two, the publication is barely readable, rife with inaccuracies and laughably amateurish.
Everything, seemingly, is for sale at Jazz Improv. Can you imagine a large and lengthy issue devoted to Buddy Rich without even mentioning any of the Buddy Rich DVDs on the market…including the only official DVD of his life story? The point is, if a publication has little or no credibility, how seriously can any of its endeavors be taken?
The coming months are going to revitalize and revolutionize the worldwide percussion community. Both Hudson Music and Drum Workshop are launching two, separate, 24-hour, internet drum channels. Hudson’s is DrumTV.net. DW’s is TheDrumChannel.com. Exact details will not be forthcoming until the formal launching of these projects–Hudson’s is set to start in June–but both will feature interviews, lessons, blogs, vintage and contemporary clips, interactive features, etc.
With DW, I will be involved in producing some of their impressive, stand alone DVD product, including the commercial release of the Gene Krupa/Dukes of Dixieland project “Championship Jazz” coupled with the famed Harry James/Buddy Rich outing from Chicago in 1965. I am also looking forward to writing narration for a most significant DW discovery, that being the “thought to be long lost” television specials filmed by Buddy Rich in 1982. Filmed live at the Statler Hiton Hotel in New York city in February of 1982, these three, never-aired television specials featured BR and the band, along with guests such as Anita O’Day, Lionel Hampton, Mel Torme’, Ray Charles, Stan Getz, Woody Herman and Cathy Rich. Throught the years, especially when I was heavilly involved in Buddy Rich material, someone came to me almost every six months with the claim that they had these tapes. They never did. Leave it to Don Lombardi at DW. He’s got them.
By way of TheDrumTV.net, I will be contributing weekly blogs, clips, commentary, etc., most of the vintage variety. I am looking forward to truly having an international forum, much like I do in this space, that will grant exposure to the unsung giants of the drums–new and old–as well as rare material of those we know and love.
These internet drum channels are coming at a good time. WIth sites like YouTube and MySpace running rampant with unauthorized and unorganized material, anyone interested in percussion or drum history can now log on to TheDrumChannel.com or DrumTV.net to find out absolutely everything they wanted to know about drums…all in one (rather, two) places.
Our German colleague, Arthor Von Blomberg, has reported that several appearances by his Krupa orchestra did very, very well at some dates in London, including the prestigious Ronnie Scott’s club. Arthor is still angling for some U.S. festival dates…
Though we haven’t yet seen it, bassist Milt Hinton’s new book, chock full of his great photos, of course, is now on the market…
On the maket is a new CD by Naples, Florida’s finest–a guy you’ve read about in this space many times–trumpeter Bob Zottola. In two words? “Buy it.” For more info, log on to Bob’s great site at www.NaplesJazzLovers.com, where you can also sign up for his great newsletter that lets fans know everything happening, jazz-wise, in Naples…
More Krupa discoveries are on the way, courtesy, once again, of the hard work of our man in Las Vegas, Paul Testa. All we can say at this juncture is that part of this DVD will feature every network obituary ever aired about Gene’s death…
If those of you who run into me personally within the coming weeks seem to think I look like Claude Rains in “The Invisible Man” (all bandages), don’t think I’m auditioning for a film part. On May 5th, two days after my birthday, I had a “larger-than-a-silver-dollar” sized malignant melonoma removed from under my right eye. It was caught–all of it–very early in quite in time, but do to the size involved, a number of skin grafts had to be performed. This will take some time, but the experts who know about such things claim I’ll be looking just like Frank Jr. again in no time at all. Guess my days of using no sunscreen are over…
Drummers, by nature, are not political animals, maybe because most of them are just animals. I’m no different, but I will answer finally answer the question that all wanted to know, in line with who I’m endorsing for president. Answer: I was, am and always will be a confirmed supporter of Harold Stassen.
Keep swingin and God bless,