Kevin Eubanks on the (re)brand of jazz
Do you think jazz needs to be rebranded in order for the art form to grow?
I do not think it is possible to rebrand an art form. That’s the curious thing about jazz. It has gone from being an extremely viable commercial dance music from the 40’s and 50’s to an art form which reflects the culture of an entire nation. I do not believe you can change the essence of something like that.
As an form of art, it will continue to get refined and detailed and polished. However, it’s hard for a thing to grow without the energy of youth constantly challenging it for no reason. That’s what youth does. It’s the natural challenging process. No particular reason. Nature is what it is.
There can be no growth without youth. Art form wise or commercially, there can be no pervasive change in anything without youth. It’s the nature of youth to change, challenge and invigorate things. There’s lots of powerful first time memories that happen to a person within the first 21 years of their life.
Unfortunately, jazz is an experience that is excluded from those years and therefore is not nearly enough or at all a part of any decision making process of growth of the majority of younger people. Sad but true. If it had a huge commercial value, it would be targeted at youth. It’s music and no one has more time or desire to listen to music than young people. It’s their first form of freedom of choice and freedom of speech. It’s important. They do not get to choose what’s not there. Jazz is not there. It use to be. Not anymore.
It’s a beautiful thing to see jazz and what it can bring to a person’s life as they grow older. It’s just one of many, many things that can help people express necessary things that did not get addressed when they were younger. They get to understand a new voice. A needed one. Like hearing a new idea that resonates in you and gets a new ball rolling.
The art form cannot help but continue to refine itself but without youth it’s future is always going to have a key ingredient missing, growth. Refining is not the same as growing. One is exclusive and the other is inclusive.
(Photo credit: Anna Webber)