Allison Hussey's article in the last Indy Week sparked me to write this, her trad vs. new generation being too simplistic for me. What I'm impressed with is the wide range of jazzes available, globally, nationally, & locally. Straight-ahead jazz still gets the biggest audiences overall, even with its aging audience, & is certainly true in this area. And, unless & until performers performing jazz in other ways develop an audience, it'll stay that way for a while.
At the moment I see, first, a lot of musicians claiming to incorporate jazz into whatever their other influences are. E.g., many performer blurbs on the Beyu website. When I check their YouTubes, I don't hear jazz; I hear neo-soul, funk, r'n'b, &/or hip-hop. Now, I know a number of local musicians trained in jazz who use their jazz skills with other genres. Bassist Lance Scott's quartet recently blended his jazz/funk stills with funk piano, a jazz drummer, & a rockish jazz-trained guitarist. Or, Zoocru's jazz-trained musicians can do anything from straight-ahead to funk to jam band. They're not either-or.
Second, there are plenty of New York-based jazz musicians on the cutting edge (listen to WNCU's Steve Taxman Thursday nights), coming at it somewhat from a new classical music point of view. Think Anthony Braxton at one extreme. Also think of guitarist Mary Halvorson, who can go from solely using electronic, tech-induced sounds to mixing them with more standard playing to straight-ahead.
Whatever they're playing, only the superstars of any type of jazz above are making a lot money playing large venues, jazz festivals, & the major jazz clubs. However, I can't think of any new generation players of any sort who've hit the big time (Christian Scott maybe?) & don't have to take whatever gigs they can get. Can think of many older generation people either.
All this is true of here, including a very small free improvisation (freeprov?) group of players. I've only gotten to know guitarist Jimmie Gilmore, but he can lead you to others. What everyone still shares is the reasonably large number of players & the less large set of venues & numbers of possible gigs.
Those jazz fans out there have found Sharp Nine, Irregardless, C Grace, & the Empress Room, especially with three newest of those having established themselves. If you offer good music & earn enough to stay open, they will come, & they have come. And, attested to by the list of venues on the LJ home page, there are other places to hear music if you're as interested as Ed Furtick & I are. That's the other factor--most folks are weekend night fans, so "lesser" venues don't make much or anything on their jazz. As big as this area is, we just don't have the population yet to sustain more than we've got.
Yet we do support the performances our universities bring in, Duke leading the way lately with last year's Monk fest & this year's female vocal fest. They were/are in a smaller venue while still filling Baldwin & Reynolds for other jazz performances. Jazz as part of university performance program still seem successful.
So, we can get our jazz yayas here while pining for that ideal jazz club of our dreams to appear. That's not bad, a blend of hope & reality.
Having bored a hole in my brain & maybe in yours, a brief look at...
Wednesday: Branford Marsalis talks about the tenor saxophone's history--&, knowing him, a lot more--at Durham's Pinhook 12p (& will play with his quartet Friday-Saturday at Baldwin 8p). I'll be at the talk because I enjoy most of Branford's opinions & really appreciate Duke Performances doing these events.
Thursday: Al Strong leads the Durham Hotel jazz jam 7p. I need those yayas.
Friday: Among many things, the NCCU jazz faculty makes a rare appearance, at Sharp Nine 8p.
Saturday: Again among many things, it's a hard call between ancient, venerable saxophonist Lee Konitz at the Carrboro Arts Center & swinging violinist Sara Caswell at Sharp Nine--both (unfortunately) at 8p. I'll see Konitz because I've never seen him live & hope that Caswell again chooses to book a gig at S9.
Sunday: C Grace hosts a hurricane relief concert 7p.