Monday, May 19, 2008

Rebirth of the Cool: Jazz Meets Net Future

Jazz - from Benny Goodman's swing to Miles Davis' Bitches Brew to acid jazz - has consistently remained at the musical and cultural vanguard. But at the "Jazz 2001: The Convergence of Jazz and Technology" conference at New York's famous club The Knitting Factory on Monday, jazz musicians and producers found themselves surprised to learn that, after years at the forefront, they just might need to get hip.

The rise of online distribution channels, software composition advances, and marketing opportunities are forcing music labels and musicians to think twice about what seemed to be the enemy of authentic music: the computer. For the most part, the conference, sponsored by JazzTimes magazine and music resource N2K Entertainment, brought to light the frustrations and fears of label executives from Blue Note Records, RCA Records, and Polygram. The musicians, however, seemed only thrilled at the prospects for experimentation - and promotion - online.

Elder saxophonist Billy Harper, who says he "never wanted to deal with electric things at all," recalled a recent concert in Poland where he was besieged by crowds begging for more - online. "They were asking me, 'Are you on the Net?'" Harper recounted. Now, with the launch of his own homepage at Jazz Corner, Harper has been transformed into a ecstatic booster, imagining a world of jazz franchising at the fever pitch of baseball, with jazz playing cards, caps, and sax reeds. As he describes it, the Web "is the shape of things to come."

Editor Note: Read the full story in Wired Online Magazine

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