When jazz was founded over 100 years ago in Black America, it marked a period where for the first time a marginalized race has found a voice to express their feelings of pain, angst and joy. From ragtime, boogie-woogie, stride, big band, bebop, cool, modal, fusion and the avant-garde, jazz went on a trailblazing path to explore itself while staying true to the roots of the music.
However, as I am living in the 21st century, music and the quality of it is undergoing a huge decline. And I must say the same for jazz today. I am going to call out names here, but when you have Robert Glasper littering his jazz creations with hip hop and R&B acts, that’s not advancing the music. That’s just creating a very glossy production. When you have jazz artists saying “fuck off” to the Great American songbook and then borrow from the likes of Coldplay, Radiohead and the Beatles, it is another means of “whitening” the music for the masses.
As of this writing, the great Ornette Coleman has gone from this world to be in the next. This is what I feel jazz is missing today. An innovator. A Visionary. One who wants to take it to the next level but not sacrificing the roots to get there. We have to stop allowing jazz produce these white bread nutjobs who think they are jazz just by having a nice hairdo, a knockout dress, and a honeycomb voice.
The only way jazz will have hope in the 21st century is to bring it back to its roots and innovate from there. For people to not shit on the struggles and advancements of the black man, but show respect and rightfully pay their due. It’s time. Time for a change.