By Ronald B. Weber, MD
President’s Message – Ronald B. Weber, MD
South Florida JAZZ is on a continuing mission to stay at the vanguard of the modern jazz scene by presenting the most creative artists in the world - yes, the world, not just the United States. And it does so in a variety of ways calculated not only to entertain its loyal followers, but to grow the jazz audience, particularly among the young: those jazz musicians and jazz enthusiasts of tomorrow. I occasionally hear the curious - and irritating - comment that SFJ often strays from “traditional” jazz. I find that curious in exasperating because jazz music always has been characterized by a break with tradition. It essentially is how the music evolved from Dixieland to swing, to bebop, and beyond, based upon the history, the musical vocabulary and innovations of its forebears. One must first be a student and a historian of the music to even aspire to be a complete jazz musician. Those unique performance characteristics that drew most of us to jazz music in our formative years were innovations that became the tradition at that time. And while a universally agreed upon definition of jazz still remains elusive, The fundamental element that unites us is that somehow, some way, the music must swing!. Seriously, it isn't sufficient to be improvisational. Lots of forms can qualify by that criterion. These days, it is getting tougher, but It is why we still smile and often get chills while listening to recordings by Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and so many other “nontraditional” artists and their disciples. It's swinging! This openness to change is the basis of its appeal. Certainly, we all love Tin Pan Alley and the Great American Songbook, even though that music has been played nearly to death, but metaphorically speaking, those wonderful tunes from nearly a century ago are merely the framework, the familiar vehicles, but not the drivers of the music. It is the artistry of the performers that make jazz thrilling even when the tunes are older than you are. You better be doing something special with "Autumn Leaves" to get my attention (Yes, Keith Jarrett, I am still with you).
Often, we present some performing artists are not familiar to all of the SFJ audience, who play original material, so there is an element of tightrope walking both in artistic and stylistic programming from our perspective as presenters. But going on 22 years, I would expect that there is now a measure of trust that has developed in our approach. Everyone spending discretionary income on entertainment wants to know what is in store for each show. With an ever-evolving art form, one must either make a concerted effort to stay abreast of the best talent and the changes in styles, or else entrust someone else to do that responsibly. That iessentially is the raison d'etre of this particular jazz organization with it's intimate audience feedback and bold artistic direction, as opposed to a promoter who only looks at the bottom line for every show. South Florida JAZZ is a dedicated keeper of the jazz flame and it needs your continuing confidence, love and support.
Funding for South Florida JAZZ is provided in part by a grant from the Broward County Board of County