Don’t Say: “No Country For Old Men”
What will older people, who are not so tech-savvy, do during and after this pandemic? There are those who adapted to the situation right away like Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. On the other hand, musical wisdom-especially when it concerns jazz music-isn’t something that could be squeezed into a 640-pixel box. Here I have good news for my elders. European festival coordinators have a solution for you as well.
It is Finally The Time to Breathe
Yes, it is hard to organize tours due to the health and economical crises that weigh down on us: 1-The budgets will be seriously downsized. 2-The touring conditions will become more challenging, Green Touring era will start. 3-It won’t be possible for older musicians to travel to different cities without being quarantined. Here, residential programs will step in to help.
This solution, which came about after a lot of brainstorming during the webinars organized by the European Jazz Network, suggests that experienced jazz masters will stay for at least 3-4 days or even a month in the cities they visit instead of commuting between Tokyo-New York-Berlin-Istanbul. In the meanwhile they will make music, arrange workshops and give special meeting concerts with his peers or newer generation musicians.
The Scales of Justice
The real beneficial solve-it-all recipe is this: The equality of opportunity and the balance between small businesses and big organizations will not be sacrificed to neo-liberal impositions in the new jazz world order; with deliberate thinking and seeing into the future. Putting it in more tangible terms…
Older jazz musicians seem to have more future support in residential programs of festivals and similar organizations while the youth have easier and frequent access to the opportunities provided by technology. However, I believe that it is vital to provide equal opportunities to musicians of all generations in both these aspects. There is a need for new infrastructure for this. Breaking the mold in popular terms. Jazz is a genre that feeds on the conversation between different generations through mentoring system.
Small businesses and big organizations need to be balanced on this scale as well. Yes, festivals take place once a year, they have bigger budgets and they can be organized in parks, gardens, empty factory buildings, empty warehouses and the like without being confined within the four walls of a club. However, they aren’t enough by themselves when jazz is concerned. Because jazz projects don’t take shape on producers’ tables but in the basement clubs that we are now afraid to enter. In other words, jazz festivals are like trees ripped from soil during a tornado in a world where jazz clubs go through natural selection. The life-long friendships between musicians who have played together will make way to playing for an evening during festival meetings. There might be exciting concerts taking place but the process of creating new projects will suffer. That is why it is extremely important to keep these small stages, which facilitate the creation of new projects, alive-even if on line-until life goes back to “normal”. The solution lies in creating a unified demand while protecting the balances in question, and reach special institutions and sponsors which can undertake this operation.
Keep on Creating Music
It is possible to continue creating records at home during this time, and to publish what would be called demo recordings in the past on digital platforms for a small fee. This way, our new creations will continue reaching jazz lovers on bigger platforms that exceed the volume of our social media accounts. I hope my musician friends who have released or are just about to release new albums during this time not to lose hope. I wish you will find some solace when you go back and think about the fundamental reasons of your efforts. This is the time to base our value as artists on being at peace with ourselves instead of on supply and demand or the axes of comparison. So what if the launch concert doesn’t happen? Was your tour cancelled? Let it be. The money and opportunities lost will come back. What matters is to be alive and to continue doing what we love to do; creating and performing jazz music.
We Will Improvize Together
There is the chart of a piece we haven’t played before on our note stand. A group of chords scribbled down with a pencil… It doesn’t have a clear melody or traffic. Or when it ends. A group of men and women watch us from across. Isn’t that Miles, giving the “Come on bitches” look aggressively from the corner? Chet jumped off from a window but now he is getting his drink on coolly there. Billie Holiday and Nina Simone have their chins in their hands, looking at us with their eyebrows raised as if to say: “We have been through a lot. Keep on walking lovelies”… There is no running away. That piece will be played. So what to do? Is it a good idea to fill all the gaps with sentences we have memorized before? Or to get over with our turn with pedal sounds? Or to make up a 10 chorus! long solo and have self satisfaction?
No, the answer is none of them. Firstly, we aren’t alone on this stage. We share all our problems together. We have to support each other to continue making this music. We should have forget that we are never alone despite being cooped up at our homes. We will perform this bizarre piece together. And I believe that we, mischievous jazz musicians who are great at breaking molds, will achieve this the best way.
The storm will end one day.
I would like to thank all my jazz musician friends, Zuhal Focan, Kaan Çağlayangöl, Onur Yaman, Didem Gençtürk and Emre Adam, for their valuable contributions in shaping these article series.