The time has come for my annual ritualistic beating from the Ottawa jazz establishment … such as it is.
The Ottawa International Jazz Festival has come forth with its lineup for this summer and guess what? It’s a tad low as usual on jazz on the main stage. Call me a maverick but your agent believes a jazz festival should have jazz on its showcase venue.
So the jazz festival features country singer Kenny Rogers on his last tour … thank goodness for small mercies.
Video above: Enjoy the jazz of Kenny Rogers.
The fest also gives us Feist, British singer Joss Stone, the Downchild Blues Band and Mavis Staples. Most are wonderful acts but in this jazz-starved community, they aren’t jazz. And that’s what’s on the marque … jazz and funding agencies see the word jazz. Hard to image why my tax dollars are going to support a country music act and the like when so many valuable uses for tax dollars are available elsewhere.
Perhaps the public-funding agencies should review exactly what they are paying for. All the acts above could be brought to Ottawa by private promoters and without tax money. In fact, the whole festival could be done by one promoter and save all kinds of bother plus get roughly the same acts.
But that would mean some all-year festival jobs would disappear.
All this rock and country would no doubt cause festival founding program manager Jacques Emond some substantial discomfort. Emond would stumble over introductions on the live stage but he could balance popular with jazz to produce a great festival. Your agent used to schedule his vacation around the festival in those not-so-long-ago days and buy the most expensive pass available.
Not anymore. If I want to hear jazz outdoors on a lovely June evening, best I delve into my monstrous recorded music collection.
Don’t get me wrong. Your agent misses the jazz festival but all good things come to an end. Perhaps the event could get smaller to actually put jazz on stage but then a lot of full-time jobs would disappear. In defence the fest will break out the schedules from Montreal and Montreux with their rock and country acts to prove the Ottawa version is no different. But that doesn’t make it right.
You know, your agent (with a fair entertainment background) and a couple of friends in the music promotion industry could probably put together a jazz festival plus make a couple of dollars, too. But the festival schedule in Ottawa is too crowded to try that.
For holding these views, your agent has been called a snob and stupid in his former publication the Citizen, a moron by a PR person from the festival and told I have no idea what it takes to put on modern music festival by the same. Of course, your agent was working in the entertainment field before the aforementioned PR type was an embryo But then your agent thought he knew everything at that age and when the PR type grows up, he’ll be surprised what he doesn’t know.
One thing he doesn’t understand is not to call a media type a moron. That’s likely to come back to bite him … as this post is doing now.
Jazz at a jazz festival. A very logical concept appears to have hit a nerve among the principals.
Wonder why that is? Perhaps a little too close to home?
In the meantime, enjoy the jazz of Kenny Rogers.
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