Tonight the TD Ottawa International Jazz Festival begins in Canada’s capital. Like the other terrific festivals in the region, this festival is a living, breathing, swinging example that jazz is not dead…far from it.
Yes, jazz record sales account for just 1-2 percent of all music sales (for what that’s worth anymore), but record sales really don’t paint an accurate picture of where jazz is today. For the next ten days thousands of people will stream into Confederation Park and other venues each night to hear straight ahead jazz, jazz-influenced folk or rock or pop or bluegrass or funk, and some challenging, genre-defying music that will, for some, totally redefine what jazz is.
These people will have a chance to see over 120 different performances between now and Canada Day. They’ll see the big stars of the jazz world like Esperanza Spalding, Dave Holland, Branford Marsalis and Bill Frisell. But they’ll also see brilliant lesser-known acts who probably drive a beat-up van from gig to gig and scrape together a living sharing their art because after food, shelter and oxygen, jazz is the most important thing there is. These are the people I’m most looking forward to seeing. To me, these are the people keeping jazz alive.
If you are going to the festival, I hope you’ll send me your impressions of what you saw (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’ll be there every night, and our Web Manager, Dale, has given me the keys to the digital castle (passwords to our Facebook and Twitter accounts) so I’ll be sending back photos and updates.
Nope, jazz isn’t dead. But don’t take my word for it. Go see some live jazz for yourself…in Ottawa or anywhere. Help to put some gas in the tank of that beat-up van so that the ride to the next gig can be just a little bit smoother.