The jazz jam session is becoming obsolete. This spontaneous, organic communal habit of playing music for fun and with obsessive abandon is threatened by economic, technological, and cultural changes that have transformed the jazz scene. Now driven largely by commercial interests, jazz serves a wide audience that can enjoy its musical tradition in the comfort of the living room.
While jazz as an art form has moved from an essentially live club experience to a controlled mass market enterprise, jazz as a cultural form is becoming more recognized and more defined. Reminiscent of yesterday’s more personal jazz encounter, Jazz as a Cultural Archive is an intellectual and controversial jam session. This issue views the evolution of jazz culture through the eyes of the artists themselves. Conversations with saxophonist/composer Benny Golson, singer Mary Stallings, pianists John Hicks and Frank Strazzeri, and trumpeter Art Farmer, among others, highlight this collection of commentary on the changing jazz scene. Also included are an essay by one of the foremost chroniclers of the jazz world, novelist and critic Albert Murray; a look at jazz and the politics of race by trombonist/composer Tom McIntosh; and a stunning collection of photographs by renowned jazz photographer Michael Oletta.