Sunday, August 16, 2009

Jazz Leaves the Museum and enters the Old Age Home

Sad news continues to pour in for the music business in general, and jazz music in particular. I may be overly pessimistic, with the (temporary?) end of the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, but a recent article in the Wall Street Journal made me sad. It does seem like the glorious "Long Tail" of the internet may actually become, as the brilliant Hugh MacLeod said, a Short Tail with a large Pile of Dead Bodies next to it.

In an article on August 9, Terry Teachout quoted statistics from an NEA Survey of Public Participation completed in 2008. Here is a sampling:
- In 2002 (the last survey date) 10.8% of adult Americans attended at least one jazz performance. In 2008, that number fell to 7.8%, a 28% drop in attendance.
- The median age of adults that admitted to seeing jazz was 46. In 1982 (the first year the NEA did this study) the median age was 29.
- Even amongst college-educated adults, which would seem to be the main jazz audience, the attendance has shrunk from 19.4% in 1982 to 14.9% today, a 23% loss in attendance.

These numbers show that the jazz audience is both aging and shrinking, regardless of any attempts to blend hip hop or rap or trance music into "jazz". Or perhaps people are just afraid to admit that they went to a "jazz" concert when they went to see Chris Botti or (dare I call him jazz?) Kenny G.

And as the jazz audience ages, it puts us in the exact same demographics as the other "high art" forms of classical music, ballet, opera and theater: the average age of people attending these events in 2008 was from 46-49 years old. So in a way there is more competition for a shrinking and graying audience.

So what can we do today to change this? My experience over and over again is that we need to get people exposed to the music so that they can enjoy the groove, the excitement and the personality of great live jazz music (as was proven again the other week when I played for between 500 -700 enthusiastic people at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art). Allowing a jazz group open for Phish or Dave Matthews might help. We need to get out of the Jazz Ghetto before it turns into an Old Age Home, and then a graveyard.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

August Update

1. The next two stops for the West Coast Jazz World Tour are at the Hip Kitty in Claremont, Ca. Two very different shows:
COURTNEY LEMMON with THE GEORGE KAHN TRIO will be performing at our new favorite jazz club, The Hip Kitty in Claremont, CA on Friday August 21, from 8:00 – Midnight. No cover charge, a great bar and fondue if you are hungry. It’s a very cool scene in the Inland Empire
Then, on September 12 The George Kahn Quartet featuring Pat Kelley will be at The Hip Kitty for a Swinging Saturday Night to kick off the new school year. Prepare for an audience filled with hip kats and kittens from the Claremont colleges. For more updated info, go to the calendar at

2. Somewhere between 500-700 people showed up at LACMA on July 24 to see the George Kahn West Coast Jazz Quintet. It was an amazing show, with Larry Klimas on sax, Gabe Johnson on trumpet, Eric Sittner on bass, Clayton Cameron on drums, and George on piano. Here are some photos to give you a sense of the excitement. Looking forward to being back at LACMA again in 2011!

3. I am a member of ARC (Artists Recording Collective), and this group, led by my long time friend and sax player Chris Burnett, is launching the next level of their campaign to spread the word about independent jazz artists.

If you want to see what ARC is up to, or if you are interested in becoming a member, come check it out at

4. So many cool links to check out on the internet right now
1) Someone did me one better, and put together a Google calendar of all the FREE music events in Los Angeles for the month of August: 2009 SUMMER CONCERT CALENDAR

2) If you have not heard of Hugh MacLeod yet, you owe it to yourself to visit the cartoonist and bargain philosopher at
3) Here are Regina Brett’s Life Lessons (by the way, she is NOT 90 years old...)

4) And of couse there is always the end of the internet
I just bumped into this again
Thought it was funny