Howard Mandel, president of the Jazz Journalists Association and creator of the “Jazz Beyond Jazz” blog, wants to make sure that the recent media flurry announcing the death of jazz doesn’t get accepted as truth. A good thing.
Here’s his latest idea:
“A grass roots group of jazz journalists and broadcasters, websites, bloggers, and presenters have launched a #jazzlives campaign on Twitter, using the social networking platform to demonstrate that recent reports of jazz’s demise are, in the words of Mark Twain, greatly exaggerated. According to data from a 2008 survey of audience participation in the arts released by the National Endowment for the Arts and featured in recent articles in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, fewer people are hearing jazz live, and fewer of them are young, that at any time since World War II. Yet on the basis of “anecdotal evidence” and observation at jazz events, the survey may have overlooked significant segments of the jazz-enjoying populace. So an informal circle of jazz activists is trying this experiment to generate new numbers: Get people at live jazz events in the next weeks — including but not only the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival (NYC, Aug. 29 -30) and Labor Day weekend fests in Tanglewood, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Aspen, Vail, Philadelphia, Chapel Hill, etc. — to add #jazzlives to tweets about who has been heard, and where. So far principals of AllAboutJazz.com, JazzCorner.com, Jazz Promo Services, the Jazz Journalists Association, the Tanglewood Jazz Festival, the Angels City Jazz Festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Detroit International Jazz Festival and WBGO have signed on to promote the #jazzlives campaign. So have bloggers Larry Blumenfeld, Nate Chinen, the Jazz Police, Willard Jenkins, James Hale, Don Heckman, Peter Hum, Howard Mandel, Plastic Sax, Doug Ramsey, Hank Shteamer and A Blog Supreme (NPR), among others. Including the “hashtag” #jazzlives will allow tweets to be searched and collated on Twitter, TweetDecks and other digital devices. A campaign widget which can be embedded in blogs and websites will exhibit the tweets as they roll out in real time. For the widget or more information on this campaign, write email@example.com. For this campaign, “jazz” is defined loosely — as each listener who tweets chooses to define it. To participate, tweet about who you hear perform and where the performance was, adding the hashtag #jazzlives and whatever else fits in Twitters 140 character limit. Tell jazz-listening friends to do likewise to prove jazz lives.”
Although I am publicizing this campaign, you’ll notice that this blog isn’t included in the list above. That’s my choice. When Howard asked me to join this campaign, I told him hat I didn’t believe in Twitter. I’m not in favor of compressing any variety of expressiveness into 140 characters. That’s too small for sound-bites. It’s more like intellectual plankton, too little to survive on.
I also find it oddly coincidental that this campaign has the same name as my blog. Of course, JAZZ LIVES is a phrase too common to be copyrighted, and many writers had used it before me.
I hope the loosely defined jazz-loving masses, tweeting under my window, don’t wake me up in the middle of the night.