“I say, there is no single right way to play jazz. Some of the comments made about my music make me realize though that modern jazz, once so daring and revolutionary, has become, in many respects, a rather settled and conventional thing. The members of my group and I are now attempting a break-through to a new, freer conception of jazz, one that departs from all that is “standard” and cliché in ‘modern’ jazz.” — Ornette Coleman, 1960.
Welcome to Jazz Right Now, a commentary on New York City’s contemporary creative improvised music scene. You will find here the latest news on the scene as well as an archive of musicians, recordings, interviews, concerts, reviews, and other information. This project grew out of a desire to shed greater light upon the musical renaissance now ongoing in New York City with particular emphasis on young and emerging artists. New York is now home to one of the most exciting music scenes anywhere, built upon a long legacy of creative musicians. But creative improvised music has also dwelled in the shadow of its great progenitors: Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus, Cecil Taylor, and many others who were so critical in the emergence of the genre. But given the general lack of knowledge of creative musicians since Coltrane underscores the need for greater visibility of contemporary and recent activity on the scene. Today’s musicians work with no less creativity, energy, innovation, and conviction, than did the great architects of the previous generation.
It is also the goal of this website to move beyond the jazz wars and genre wars of the previous generation. It bears no fruit to attempt to isolate jazz out of a desire for “purity” or to try to define what jazz is. Indeed, many of the musicians included here draw from outside the genre and to great effect. My use of the term jazz here is only meant to form a baseline from which to start, rather than serve as a limiting factor by which to define or divide. Music is far too interesting to be easily classified–the musicians included here defy genre, sub-genre, or constantly move across or beyond the boundaries of what my parents or grandparents may have defined as jazz. Jazz is a malleable and transient term, taking on new meanings and shedding old ones, such that it becomes whatever we mean it to be in the present, unbound by past classifications.
Website content by Cisco Bradley, assistant professor of history in the Department of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY.