This is a copy of an E mail that I sent to Ben Ratliff, jazz critic for The New York Times It's in response to a question concerning the market for jazz.
I am a veteran jazz guitarist, born in Chicago but based in suburban Philadelphia.
I appreciate how you handle sensitive topics related to the Art of Jazz.
Being in this business for a long time as a musician, educator, author and lecturer, I have a somewhat different take on the subject of jazz musicians and audiences. Though it's easy to blame the media and they deserve some of the blame, I think the biggest problem lies squarely on the shoulders of jazz musicians and the jazz community.
This community has never promoted or marketed their art and craft at the level or with the same intensity as other musical idioms. This is not to comment one way or another on the musical significance of jazz versus rock - country vs pop etc.
As an example, country music has an enormously popular and important tradition called Fan Day. This is basically a big convention for the fans to meet, up close and personal, their country music idols. Autographs are given, merchandise is sold, pictures are taken. I have never seen a country artist resist this tradition or complain about it. They recognize that without the fans, they would have no career.
Country music plays to the fans and seems to show a genuine interest in them. I understand the differences between country and jazz but jazz still must be marketed with consistency and enthusiasm. The musicians have to do their part in promoting and marketing their art and craft. I am talking about traditional forms of jazz not "smooth jazz".
Jazz shares many of the same issues with classical music. There is too often a distance and certain type of elitism that prevents audiences from getting "close".
I hold out great hope for the future because of the "new" music business - the "cyber marketing" and all the tools that are available to jazz musicians across the world.
"Audience Friendly, Progressive Jazz Guitar"
If interested, I'd love to send you copies of two of my CDs as well as one of my books. It deals with the subject of development within the music business, the individual and within the artistic community. The book is titled "Music Pursuing the Horizon"