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Speaking of (Jazz) Music...

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Moving Jazz (back) into the Main Stream
By Lars Bjorn and Jim Gallert

Once upon a time, long ago, Jazz was America's popular music.

Around 1940, Swing was indeed King, and people danced to it, it was functional. Live music was heard in most restaurants, bars and hotels, not to mention the radio – it was everywhere, and young folks embraced it.  Each successive generation anointed their music of choice, and it wasn't jazz.

The music garnered less media attention.   Radio stations moved to pre-recorded sounds and those sounds catered to the current youth market.  Is Jazz still popular? Of course. Will Jazz die? Of course NOT.   Today's jazz audience is smaller, and it's ears, not feet, that get the most exercise.

The Detroit International Jazz Festival aims to bring jazz back to a mass market. The four-day celebration each Labor Day is amazing, and this year a new element debuted:  JazzPlanet tv. Live streaming video from a set located in the festival footprint, or from a roaming camera, featuring impromptu interviews with jazz musicians, commentators, and supporters.

Festival director Terri Pontremoli strongly believes this medium has the ingredients necessary to raise the visibility of jazz and its creators.

“It's jazz variety TV,” she says. “And it's available anywhere the internet is available. “It's also exciting, interesting, and free.”

Live video from jazz festivals isn't new, but it's always from a fixed location, whereas JazzPlanet's camera gives it an advantage.

Will this be enough to spread the jazz gospel to new audiences? It's a good start, and the demographics are intriguing. JazzPlanet has penetrated 167 countries, and most of its audience is in India. Regardless of its audience size, jazz is a world music.

JazzPlanet is playing right now at the festival's website.

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