Geniuses like Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, or Theolonius Monk shaped the face of jazz. When they were young, they acquired their skills by listening for hours to scratchy records of older musicians, by imitating their solos, and by surviving the tough competition in jazz bars. Those who were able to assert themselves were in business. Those who failed to move the guests in smoky jazz clubs had to give up. Today, young jazz musicians seem to have it easier. Not only do they have access to a huge number of recordings, they also have the opportunity to take formal training. Both German and American conservatories offer elaborate courses in jazz. What good, however, does formal training do for the development of creativity and personality, and where are all the jazz musicians with a diploma in their pocket going to work? These kinds of questions were raised last week (Jan. 10-13) at the annual conference of the International Association of Jazz Educators in New York, where approximately 7,000 teachers, students, music agents, and professional musicians exchanged thoughts and phone numbers. Georg Hirsch attended.
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