Capital Bop Blog transcript
Gio Russonello: I think there’s a lot of complicated cross-currents obviously that affect popularity and society’s embrace of art and just any cultural phenomenon. But I think you can think of it like you can think of fashion, which is something that is an expression, a mode of expression for people, but it’s also highly commodified and commercialized and dictated sort of by the winds and the tides of the commercial market. So, you know, what people were wearing in the ‘60s had to go out of fashion, because, first of all, if your parents wore it, you weren’t gonna wanna wear it yourself. All of those forces work together in the same way in the music world. So that one generation’s will to self-actualization and expression forces them to create new musics and also the embrace of new technologies with which you can create music. And also the deprivation of instruments in urban areas and the ending of music education programs. All of these things have come together in a confluence that actually results in something like funk or hip-hop or whatever the next thing will be. But what’s interesting is there might be that really hip thing that your dad used to wear that you pick it up when you’re just getting over just, you know, reflexive rebellion, and you say, “That, I can really get down with that. That tie looks good on me and it says something about who I am, because my dad is also part of me,” And what’s interesting about jazz is just the strength with which it’s resonating with people who go for the hip-hop, go for the- for the rock ‘n’ roll and the electronic dance music of their day, and then they also turn around and say, “But wait. This music has a broader palette. It has more colors musically than anything else I’ve ever dealt with. And in its own way, I can express myself even more robustly through this music than I feel like I can through the quote, unquote ‘contemporary’ or mainstream musics.” So people are escaping these ideas that you must innovate, you must separate yourself from the past and don’t turn around and look backward. People who are great musicians and who are most, most concerned about representing themselves in the moment, are finding a way to let improvised and really dynamic music that is jazz, let that be a way for them to channel their contemporary passions. And that doesn’t mean it needs to sound like John Coltrane. It can sound like somebody who’s been listening chiefly to hip-hop. But it’s just such a rich, musical language that I think people in our generation are especially finding it useful to sort of refract all of their own musical tastes through jazz. It’s a time of musical blossoming in the jazz world. So people are beginning to embrace that mentality of saying, “It better be current and it better be now,” but it can also have the whole history of jazz contained within it.
In this excerpt from the podcast, Russonello explains why jazz hadn't been on the radar of many younger musicians and what happens once they discover it. [2:50]