Now that the deed has been done and the International Association for Jazz Education has seemingly folded it’s tent and significantly filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection — a filing quite different from the more familiar Chapter 11 which would at least leave the door ajar for some form of organizational recovery as Ricky Schultz pleads in his intelligent Comment left on this site — the big question is what’s next.
From the many Comments posted in response to our original Woe is IAJE rant from April 7, one surmises that there is abundant energy out there in the jazz community for the formation of some kind of national organization designed to fill the percieved void… But what exactly? Who out there is willing to at least lead the discussion? What’s the next step(s)? Can/will the Jazz Improv convention fill the cavernous void left by the demise of the annual IAJE conference?
One key element of Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing is a state appointed investigation into the causal factors behind the organization’s demise. That should be an interesting process if the many ills and examples of malfeasance that have been suggested by IAJE intimates is true. I was struck — dumbstruck might be a more apt description — by two recent examples of questionable journalism. A few weeks ago the New York Times and the Chronicle of Philanthropy separately reported on the IAJE endgame. I can’t for the life of me figure how NYT writer Ben Ratliff considered it anywhere close to good journalism to allow former IAJE director Bill McFarlin to get away scott free (again!) with his breathless declaration to the effect that if only I had known the depths of IAJE’s fiscal problems I wouldn’t have left (bailed is more like it) and would have remained to right the ship… or words to that effect. Mr. Ratliff allowed that ludicrous statement to stand; no challenge, no follow-up question, no shocked exclamation along the lines of how is it humanly possible that after serving the organization for 24 years as its executive director, you could have the stones to tell me and my readers that if only you had known… if you didn’t KNOW, who the hell did???
In the Chronicle of Philanthropy IAJE legal counsel Alan Bergman, himself a wannabe drummer, amazingly blamed the demise of IAJE on the organization’s musician leadership; cavalierly dismissing the causal factors as if to say, what could you expect from an organization led by mere jazz musicians. I for one found that to be extremely insulting to the many brilliant and capable jazz musicians it has been my good fortune to be around for my forty years writing about jazz, volunteer broadcasting jazz, producing jazz concerts and festivals, running jazz organizations, and consulting with countless jazz musicians. To impugn jazz musicians in this way is specious at best coming from someone who held both IAJE board positions, was the organization’s legal counsel, and continues to represent jazz musicians for goodness sakes!
We can only hope the court-appointed independent investigator will at last bring some transparency to the sad demise of IAJE. One can dream… In the meantime, what next…? Your Comments, questions, suggestions, ideas, etc. are more than welcomed they are encouraged on this site. Please weigh in with your take since all this stuff hit the fan.
The Independent Ear