Nancy Wilson won a Grammy last night, not that anyone would know from the media coverage. Had you been in the audience yesterday, during the pre-telecast awards when 96 Grammys were bestowed, you would know that only two of those winners garnered standing ovations: Tony Bennett and Nancy Wilson. No Standing O for Peter Frampton or Bon Jovi or Ludacris, just for Nancy and Tony.I have to believe that means something. The mainstream media has decided that jazz is irrelevant and/or of no interest to it’s readers/viewers. This decision is based, of course, not on any journalistic standards but solely on commercial concerns and advertisers allocations. Tony Bennett, having allied himself with pop, rock, and country performers, has broken through the barrier, and Michael Brecker’s win was mentioned in some reports because his death from a dreadful disease was recent news. Please don’t misunderstand my rant, Michael was most deserving, but I suspect that had he been alive and well his Grammy win would not have been mentioned outside the inner jazz circles. And that is a shame to be sure.
In their quest for young audiences, the gatekeepers have determined that older artists are not of interest, but they are wrong. If I had a dime for every fan letter and email that Nancy receives from fans under the age of 30, I would soon retire. It reminds me too of another recent experience with The Los Angeles Times. My father was making a rare Los Angeles appearance, he hadn’t performed here for a few years, he had recently been named an NEA Jazz Master, composed and performed an orchestral work with the Baltimore Symphony, in short there was lots of unusual and interersting news. The writer we pitched wanted to do an article but the newspaper editor said ‘no,’ the combination of his age and his music, jazz, added up to “no interest.” I wish that editor had been at the concert to the see the room full of high school and college kids.
Its a sad world where the majority doesn’t stand up to the media…and the government. If we don’t voice our demands then maybe we deserve what we get.