Saturday, 16 April 2011

Q: Where is Jazz in the Media? A: Nowhere.

About 2 months ago myself and drummer Matt Jacobson formed a new collective to try and get jazz music back into the media and to get more people to come out and check out live jazz happening in Dublin. Since starting this collective, I have become increasingly aware of how little focus is given to jazz- both Irish and international- in print and broadcasting media. Lets take The Irish Times' arts and entertainment magazine The Ticket for example. This is a magazine that covers a wide variety of the arts from film, theater and literature to most of the various categories and sub-genres of music. The coverage that jazz gets in this magazine is pathetic, 2 album reviews and gig listings and yet while there are a lot of exciting things stirring in the Irish jazz scene as of late, the editors of The Ticket seem to think it's much more worth while interviewing Dappy a member of the palpably awful N-Dubz about fishing in Dublin as well as asking him why he uses made up words such as "brap". Even in the gig listings every genre except jazz has at least one featured concert of the week and it's not as if there isn't anything worth writing about. Scanning through this week's jazz listings I can pick out at least 2 gigs that would be worth highlighting!

Dappy: voice of a generation.

Broadcasting media is no better either. While John Kelly's The View on RTE does have the occasional jazz group on its program, that's about as good as it gets. Other Voices, another RTE program, broadcasts concerts of non mainstream bands and yet I have never seen one jazz act on it. I've caught glimpses of the latest series of Other Voices and it seems like the only way to get on that program is to play on vintage looking instruments, play music somewhere between 50's rock and roll and 80's synth pop and if you have a piano or a small glockenspiel or any other kind of "eclectic" instrument, you're a shoe in! Of course there are exceptions but the majority of the music that I have seen on there falls into that category. The radio branch of RTE is much the same. Its arts program Arena does occasionally feature jazz, most recently saxophonist Alex Mathias, but once again not as much as it should. The music featured on Arena falls into a similar vein of what is played on Other Voices and of course there are the occasional exceptions such as Owensie and Croupier, bands that I think are doing interesting things musically.

It is not that I expect jazz to get as much coverage as mainstream pop and rock acts, but I do expect that it should at least make a blip on the radar of music publications such as The Ticket as well as radio and television programs like Arena and Other Voices. There is a lot of interesting music going on in the jazz scene both here in Ireland and internationally and it is music worth reporting about. It's very disheartening not only for jazz musicians but also for any creative musician/band when the likes of Dappy are deemed more report worthy by big name publications. If these journalists and broadcasters really consider themselves spokespeople for high art, they need to start looking beyond what is "hip" right now and digging deeper to find the hidden gems within jazz and other creative music. Following the current trends is easy. Finding true, honest and creative music is hard and it only gets harder when these spokespersons continue to ignore it.