Some good comments after the article as well, including one from Jim Landers who writes about the popularity of the annual Bix Beiderbecke jazz festival in Davenport."Jazz has changed greatly since the 30s, when Louis Armstrong, one of the supreme musical geniuses of the 20th century, was also a pop star, a gravel-voiced crooner who made movies with Bing Crosby and Mae West and whose records sold by the truckload to fans who knew nothing about jazz except that Satchmo played and sang it. As late as the early 50s, jazz was still for the most part a genuinely popular music, a utilitarian, song-based idiom to which ordinary people could dance if they felt like it. But by the 60s, it had evolved into a challenging concert music whose complexities repelled many of the same youngsters who were falling hard for rock and soul. Yes, John Coltranes A Love Supreme sold very well for a jazz album in 1965but most kids preferred California Girls and The Tracks of My Tears, and still do now that they have kids of their own.
Even if I could, I wouldnt want to undo the transformation of jazz into a sophisticated art music. But theres no sense in pretending that it didnt happen, or that contemporary jazz is capable of appealing to the same kind of mass audience that thrilled to the big bands of the swing era. And it is precisely because jazz is now widely viewed as a high-culture art form that its makers must start to grapple with the same problems of presentation, marketing and audience development as do symphony orchestras, drama companies and art museumsa task that will be made all the more daunting by the fact that jazz is made for the most part by individuals, not established institutions with deep pockets."
Is traditional/classic jazz dead? On life support? Are things different here in the US than in Europe or Japan? What do the Forumites think?