Careers in Jazz
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Jazz Classes, in Detail

Silver Spoons

The clearest path to survival in jazz is simply to have no need for money.  And while many jazz artists create their music with little regard for listeners, those who are independently wealthy have the luxury of disregarding their audience entirely.  As a general rule, the wealthier the artist, the less accessible his music and the loftier his rhetoric about musical freedom and innovation.

Many of these artists purchase their own concert spaces, where they book themselves, joined by their fellow moneyed, avant peers or by Epiphytes with avant leanings. Although anger is often a central element of their musical aesthetic (inspired, as they are still, by the spirit of 1960s rebellion), in the largest sense, no harm is done. 

Their audience consists of the same four to eight people for each concert.  Because so few people will pay to hear the music, it is often supported by grants from arts agencies.

Silver Spoons spend their abundant free time thinking about, and writing descriptions of, the deep philosophical underpinnings of their work.  These descriptions are then adapted to serve as the narratives of their grant proposals.  The grants panelists, who know nothing about jazz, equate the artists’ impressive discourse with depth of musicality, and reward them accordingly.

It should be noted that not all independently wealthy artists are drawn to the avant-garde.  Some take part in the mainstream jazz arena, where they play out a conflicted relationship with their money.  The most callous ones offer to perform in jazz venues for free, undercutting their working peers and driving down the already meager local pay scale.  Others carefully pick their spots, accepting only the most flattering gigs, thereby earning an artificially exalted reputation among audiences and the media.  And some, uncomfortable with the seeming oxymoron of being a “moneyed jazz artist,” live Spartan lifestyles that enable them to “pass” among their less privileged colleagues.

  • Artists living on disability following psychotic episodes
Identifying Signs
  • Carefully chosen frayed second-hand clothing
  • “Street” jazz nickname (replacing embarrassingly aristocratic given name)
Survival Techniques
  • None needed

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