The Independent Ear

Performing in a post-pandemic world – Part Two

This dialogue is part two of a series of communications with touring performing artists discussing their sense of what their performing life will look like once the fog and uncertainty of our current pandemic life lifts enough to allow them to play to live audiences. We’ve posed three questions to each of these artists, questions about their post-pandemic performing life, their sense of what that will mean for the venues they typically perform in across the globe, and their expectations of those venues and themselves when it is safe to resume some modicum of their performing career.

Our participants in Part Two of this series of dialogues include the following bandleaders: Melissa Aldana (saxophone); Monty Alexander (piano); Jamie Baum (flute); Owen Broder (saxophone); Clairdee (voice); Akua Dixon (cello); Gerry Gibbs (drums); Monika Herzig (piano-keyboards); TK Blue (saxophones-flute); Ben Williams (bass); Charles Rahmat Woods (saxophones-flute); Helen Sung (piano).

1. What precautions will you take going forward – at least until we have a clear sense that Covid-19 has been successfully eradicated?
“To be honest, I feel comfortable performing before an audience right now! But that’s a knee-jerk reaction…taking my emotion out of it – for me, a major step towards feeling safer (and more responsible) to resume in-person performances again is having universal testing (and regular testing) be available…maybe even mandatory. A comprehensive system to keep track of everyone’s results would follow, although how we would do this will probably be hotly debated. Societal trust has to be re-built, so that I don’t see others as threats who could infect me. Although some enforcement will likely be needed initially, I hope that each of us will do our part to promote public health/safety, and over time come to trust that others have done their part as well. Some other thoughts: for jazz clubs to adopt the reduced capacity rules that restaurants have likely to adhere to (at least for now) seems a shame, and counter to what live music is all about – rubbing elbows, community, being close together, feeding off of each other’s expressions, exclamations, energy. Will musicians have to wear masks onstage? I wonder how it will impact the live performance experience for artists and audience alike. Performing to an empty club while being live streamed has been offered as another solution, but for me it is an artificial and sadly lacking alternative. But we have to make the best of the situation and I’m game to trying all the possibilities. But I still sincerely hope one day we can return to how live music was “in the past.” I think the international community is further along in the process of re-opening, and we should definitely learn from them.”

“I think there will be a huge change in the way we interact with audience[s], capacity of venues, the way we travel, the way we perceive the world. But if I am just talking about the music I personally feel this is gonna be such huge change for me since there has been so much time to think; the growth, to be on my own, etc…. and all of this has allowed me to get to know myself in a way that I would have never done it before and that is connected to the way I play and express myself.”

“If I try to imagine the more favorable scenario, it would be one where the audiences would be much less [smaller in terms of] attendees, of course seated several feet apart with everyone wearing health masks, including artists – horn players and singers. In my case as a piano player, the piano would need to have been wiped down with anti-bacterial sanitizer before the performance and I myself would be obliged to do so again to make sure there is no virus on the keys. Another thought – perhaps the safer kind of venues are open-air with people sitting several feet apart.”

“I tend to think outdoor performances will be a more realistic way to begin any live performances. From everything they are saying, the worst thing is to be in a small or medium sized venue for any length of time. If I were a bass, piano, guitar player, or drummer, I think I would fare better because they can play while wearing a mask, and I wish I could!. Obviously, when there is either a vaccine and/or therapeutics that work, that would help ease the concern as well.”

“Traveling is an issue. But once we’re in the performance space, I don’t imagine the primary issue will be proximity to bandmates on the stage. Hopefully by the time bands are performing together, the general public will have access to affordable and reliable tests, which would enable bands to safely rehearse and its members to interact with one another. But audiences will likely be limited in capacity, as it will likely still be a high risk for the foreseeable future to be in-doors with large groups of people. In the past, it was fairly common for artists to interact with at least a portion of the audience for awhile following a performance. I think this would have to be extremely controlled, if not avoided altogether.”

“It’s going to be a huge challenge for artists and presenters going forward. It is highly probable that artists and venues will continue to present more live-stream shows perhaps in conjunction with live performances. If the trend of live stream continues, I wonder how the criteria presenters currently use to select artists may change. I am concerned that many seasoned, less[er] known artists like myself will be left out with preferences going to legacy and “known” artists.

“Venues must make money to stay in business – especially since there will be fewer audience members due to social distancing restrictions. I LOVE performing in front of an audience. There’s nothing better than communing together with music. I realize that in order to adhere to sanitization rules and social distancing guidelines, presenters will have to rethink how many shows to present, how many people in the band, etc. I would be up for doing a 90-minute show in the afternoon, with a few hours in between to allow for cleaning, etc., and perform a second 90-minute show in the evening.”

“The public is getting used to being able to see concerts online at home. These are mostly live solo or duo performances. After the pandemic has calmed down, I can see concerts where bands are performing at a venue with either no one there or a limited amount of people in the audience. Tickets would be sold to view the bands’ performance online all over the world. Outdoor festivals/performances might be safer to do live. I would like for a vaccine to be in place before I start doing public performances.”

“I think I have only heard 1 or 2 musicians say they would take a chance and play in front of a crowd no matter how big the crowd was. I don’t see anytime soon for the majority of music performing clubs [or] concert venues opening up and having bands play in front of people sitting, drinking without the new norm called “Social Distancing.” If a club can only fit 100 and now through social distancing can safely only have 40 people or less how they will be able to pay bands or make a profit themselves[?].”

“I’m learning tech skills in abundance right now and I hope to implement some of these strategies for collaborations and for connecting with audiences. Of course I look forward to the days of traveling the world again but maybe the music business has tilted to far to relying on live performance income and it’ll be good for a bit less stressful musician’s life, for the environment, and for audiences to have more connection avenues that don’t require excessive travel at all times.”

“It’s very difficult for me to look far ahead as news coverage changes daily and we have to ascertain truth from fiction. One thing is for sure I will always remain positive and optimistic that live performance opportunities will resurrect. By the same token I do believe the landscape for the performing arts will have a new reality. For now I would not feel very comfortable performing in small indoor clubs/venues, unless [they were] large enough and some sort of social distance could be achieved. I think the safe bet going forward is to cultivate outdoor venues, arenas, theaters, etc. With supervision we could maintain social distance in the audience as well as onstage. In addition, with live streaming happening on a large scale, future concerts could be streamed for a small fee. This can create another avenue of revenue for the promoter.”

“It is very hard to imagine what my post-pandemic performances may look like. I just finished reading a New York Times article about promoters and venues basically looking to 2021 at the earliest for reopening large concert venues. I foresee it being a very slow and cautious process. The uncertainty of how to return and what steps need to be put in place are very important. I am very anxious to get back to a “normal” performance atmosphere and honestly I’d rather wait a year (or however long it takes) to get back to a performance environment that everyone feels comfortable with – fans and artists included. I’m not sure if I can feel good about creating something so sacred as music in front of fans that are forced to sit six feet apart. The question becomes: “what is the quality of the experience if we try to return too early?”

“Planet Earth’s economic and social culture has been brought to a screeching halt. That being said, I would not feel totally comfortable [performing] until a vetted vaccine (preventative) or curative treatment is available.”

2. What precautions will you take going forward – at least until we have a clear sense that Covid-19 has been successfully eradicated.
“Basically what the health authorities have been advocating: I wear a mask whenever moving around outside, using hand sanitizer when not at home (or not having access to sinks where I can wash my hands), avoid touching my face, washing hands thoroughly after coming home, and try to take better care of myself (getting more sleep, regular sleep, exercise, healthy eating habits etc).”

“Just try to be as cautious as possible.”

“Even if the virus has been “successfully” eradicated, folks who are like me (including age-wise: 76) they would likely maintain a higher level of vigilance and caution. Therefore a great deal of that earlier carefree attitude that has always been a part of the ‘jazz’ scene would go out the window.”

“I have not left my apartment in 9 weeks except for an occasional walk on our second floor plaza… we are still in lockdown mode in NYC [as of May 21]. It is hard to know when and how to move forward at this point. I will follow the protocol of wearing a mask when I go out, trying to keep 6 feet distance, etc., but in terms of performing live… I can’t say yet.”

“At the moment, I am still generally operating within the parameters of lockdown. As things begin to open up, my priority will be to get tested, which will inform how I move forward. I will be closely following the CDC’s recommendations for safe practices. I plan to continue to avoid physical contact, such as shaking hands, to maintain a safe distance from other individuals, and to carry sterilizing wipes with me for things like music stands, microphones, and other performance equipment that may have been handled by a number of other people.”

“Until we have a clear sense that the Covid-19 virus has been successfully eradicated, the best precautions I can take are to continue to shelter in place, wash my hands, wear as mask, and social distance. When it is “safe” to return to performing, I will continue to do those things. The hardest thing for me will be to resist hugging. Giving a hug is something I’ve always done and is another way that I connect and say “Thank you” to my bandmates and the people who attend my shows. A good thing that has come from the shelter in place mandate is the flexibility of time allowed to create – working on exciting projects to continue to promote my new album and show. Hopefully, these things will entice audiences to come to the live show whenever it is “safe” to perform live again.”

“Limited contact with the audience… mask and social distancing, no direct contact, no hand shaking. Have previously signed CDs, etc. for sale.”

“The next option is live streaming, and guess what – now thousands of people all over the world are going to be live streaming every day and that will be an overload, and the majority of people watching jazz will have to pay and most likely pay for the more well-known artists, and most stuff will get ignored making all those ignored bands earn less money. Now if the more famous person or band is getting more internet attention, how many times can they attract a crowd?”

“Minimal contact with people outside of my direct circles; safe travel precautions with masks, lots of hand sanitizers, playing only with people in my ‘bubble.'”

“The main precaution I take currently is to use a mask and gloves whenever leaving my home. I always respect social distance rules and rarely do I eat food prepared by others (restaurant take/out or delivery). On local TV they featured a famous restaurant that was re-opening and the camera went inside the kitchen where a cook’s mask was below his nose and his helper had no mask on at all!!”

“I believe when we do return to performing there will be much more attention to cleanliness and sanitary precautions. I imagine this will be a much bigger part of our everyday lives (public spaces, equipment, instruments, etc. being regularly sanitized) for our overall peace of mind. I’m definitely not opposed to that especially living in New York City! Again, it’s hard to say at what point we’ll all feel comfortable but in this case I believe it is in everyone’s best interest to err on the side of caution.”

“Until a curative component (vaccine/treatment) is in place, I can only follow “best practices” protocols (hand washing, face masks, social distancing, avoidance of mass transit, etc.) to protect myself, my family, my band, and my audiences. Currently those best practices preclude the sort of audience interactions and environs that have been my normal source of performance engagement. The Catch 22 dilemma is that I am part of the “gig economy”. My living depends on active live social interaction and should a live performance offer come in I will have to give it serious consideration. While internet performances are still developing as an option. I don’t think they have matured into a reliable revenue stream for “gig workers”.

3. What will be your expectations of those who present your performances, in terms of safeguards, audience considerations, and overall attention to making sure artists’ needs are met in that regard?
“I would like those who present my performances to practice all the precautions listed in my answer to Question No.2. Unless we stay quarantined forever, I don’t know if it’s possible to 100% protect everyone from infection when society re-opens. I think the best we can do is implement the recommended safety guidelines, understand what we are dealing with, exercise common sense, and probably practice some some self-denial here and there (like not attending this or that when we might be infected, taking the time to get tested regularly, etc) in the name of the common good.

“I think I am just expecting for the venue to be aware of what is happening, be cautious and respectful of the situation.”

“Presenters would need to be responsible for making sure that everything is/has been done for maximum safety. The artists obviously would need to lower their financial wishes/expectations.”

“All I can say is to follow the science. As I mentioned, right now I am dying to play with people and perform… However, I have to consider the health of the people around me, and as I see how things begin to unfold, I will try to make the best decisions. I’d like to suggest that all of the tech people and everyone wear a mask, and clean everything, etc. But all of that seems like a huge challenge, and of course I can’t wear a mask while playing. Flying or going on public transportation is a whole other thing.”

“I would hope that, as much as possible, presenters minimize the amount of time artists spend in an enclosed space, limit or entirely avoid direct contact with audience members, particularly indoors and in large groups, and keep the stage, equipment, and greenroom or holding area sterile. I think one of the intermediate steps before audiences are present will be live-streaming performances in venues without audiences. We should all be considering how to safely facilitate this so that venues can continue generating revenue and artists can get back to performing in some capacity as soon as it is safe and possible to do so.”

“My main concern is that even with proper restrictions in place, will people feel safe enough to attend live shows? How far will the front row be from the stage? As far as safeguards, I will continue to use my own microphone. I can’t imagine all the work that venues would have to do to keep backline clean. I imagine that tech crews would have to wear masks and gloves. The dressing rooms – if we are even allowed to use them – would have to be thoroughly cleaned before we arrive at the venue. I would not want any visitors to come to the dressing rooms.”

“Most venues have someone near the dressing rooms so that people can’t get backstage. This will have to be made available in most places. Most venues announce that flash photography is not allowed. You could also add to that statement and say that social distancing is required.”

“Providing separate space for artists behind stage, diligent disinfection of spaces and instruments – possible temperature checking at entrance, providing live streaming options that can generate additional income to make up for smaller audiences and ticket sales.”

“Making sure social distance is adhered to in the audience and on stage. If it’s indoors [performance], please make sure there is ample ventilation/climate control. If food is provided, please make sure it’s from a reputable restaurant and all precations were made in the food preparation (I realize this will be difficult). Lastly, when at all possible I would drive to the venues and bypass public transportation.”

“Moving forward I would definitely be more vigilant about the sanitary precautions taken by the venues to ensure they are doing everything they can to prevent the spread of virus and germs. Again, I would feel better in waiting until we get to a point where social distancing is not mandatory because it would dramatically impact the quality of performance. While the health of the audience is of the utmost importance, we have to ask ourselves as artists, is it worth it if all the life has been sucked out of the environment? The experience of a live performance is such a delicate and sacred thing and the last thing I would want is for fans to not be able to fully engage in the moment. Like everyone else, I’m waiting both patiently and anxiously, hoping and praying we an get back to making music in front of crowds of people.”

“Presenters have additional challenges of safeguarding their contracted performers and their audiences. In addition to standard “best practices” (venue sanitization, safe distancing, safe amenities) the venue may have to consider the adequate safety of its air ventilation and conditioning systems. If “temperature checks” are instituted (as they have been in some instances overseas) to be a screening tool for production workers, the prospects of a band member, stage personnel or ticket holders being suddenly rejected has implications on the quality of a specific engagement.”

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Performing in a post-pandemic world – Pt. 1

(Photo: Edwin Hopper)

Like many of you I have witnessed valiant efforts from artists to maintain their public performing profile via the various online platforms. On the other side of the coin I’ve seen communications from artists who are clearly in distress, including specific pleas for assistance. Here in DC vocalist Aaron Myers has been spearheading a series of weekly Zoom “check-ins” from the music community, with frequent posts of available assistance to artists as well as speculations of when the live arts performance world will re-open. Likely similar arts community linkage efforts are ongoing in other communities.

Back in mid-March we postponed the annual DCJazzFest for June, speculating that we might conceivably be able to present a smaller scale version this Fall – with the various public health/safety protocols top of mind. Since then the DC Mayor’s office has released an extensive (79-pages) document on life in the city represented by Stages of proposed re-opening. We’ve been scheduled to reach Stage One on Friday, May 29th, which DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has characterized as “stay at home light”. Significantly reaching Stage 3 and Stage 4 will require some time, and those are the stages that include allowable venue operations, with social distancing and limited audiences for sure.

Much of pretty much every city’s plans to re-open have been dominated by the purview of various municipal commissions, business communities, and planning committees. As well-meaning and vital as these ongoing deliberations are transpiring, and though many of them laudably include representatives of the arts community, I’ve been wondering what specifically jazz musicians are thinking as we hopefully face a brave new, post-pandemic world of the unknown. With such questions in mind I’ve begun polling various jazz artists (thanks for planting the seed Suzan Jenkins) by email on their thoughts about performing in this post-pandemic world we’re slowly coming to grips with.

The premise for those communications is outlined in my introductory paragraph in those communications: “As a presenter (DC Jazz Festival) I’m trying to get out in front of the curve for whenever we find ourselves living in a post-pandemic world and what that will mean for those of us in performing arts presenting. In preparation for that brave new world, I’m calling on a select group of artists, those I suspect have given this matter some deep thought, and would like to get your responses to three questions.”

For Part One of this post-pandemic performing arts world dialogue, our participants are the following bandleaders: Jane Bunnett (saxophone & flute); Terri Lyne Carrington (drums); Dave Douglas (trumpet); Ethan Iverson (piano); Jason Moran (piano); Patricia Zarate Perez (saxophone; and director of the Panama Jazz Festival); Walter Smith 111 (saxophone); and Cassandra Wilson (voice). Here are their responses (in random order; attribution not being an overarching issue here) to my four performing in a post-pandemic world questions.

1. What do you imagine your post-pandemic performing life will look like, and what will it take for you to feel comfortable performing before an audience again?
“I may be naive, but I feel it will be quite similar to pre-pandemic time, [with] a little more spacing between audience members and more basic sanitizing (the clubs and halls, not the music). Of course this is based on the optimistic view that the virus will be under control. Certain European countries are getting back to normal and are experimenting with different models for performance. There’s a certain school of thought that says “all performing arts are dead until we get a vaccine,” we sure hope that isn’t the case because the next virus could be right around the corner. Our European agent feels good about the situation in Europe in the Fall but says “it all depends on what the Americans do.”

“I imagine that everyone will have to feel more comfortable gathering in closely seated environments to go to concerts. And also musicians will have to feel comfortable flying and traveling in close environments as well. I’m hoping we don’t have to wait until the vaccine for this to happen and that there are ways to test people and social distance so that people are more comfortable. Some venues are spreading out their seating to help with this. I think there will be quite a while of practicing social distancing, and that it will become part of our daily fabric. I certainly am hoping that we also figure out new and creative ways to get our music to audiences. Streaming may be one way to have live concerts for no audiences, or limited audiences, but I think we are all trying to figure it out.”

“It’s too early to think about what the post-pandemic performing life will look like. We just have no idea as we have no real info on testing and tracing, no real news about therapeutics, and no idea when there will be a vaccine and whether people in this country will agree to take [a vaccine]. There is no clear leadership at the top of our federal government, and this will irreparably affect the arts. So for now, this is too much of an unknown. The leadership we have is not going to change. We must affect the change in our elections in November if we are to begin digging out of the health and economic crisis. I don’t say that as politics. I say that for the health of our families. Without that there will be no performing arts in person.”

“I don’t have anything smart to say about this. I think a vaccine, or at least much-improved treatment, is the only thing that will make a jazz club viable again. Fortunately, the best and brightest are working on these tasks.”

“I was anticipating touring less as my boys enter their teenage years, and the pandemic solved the “how” would I pull back. So I’m already planning that for the next 6 years, because of my children, I’ll be at home more. To feel comfortable performing before an audience won’t be the problem, it will be “how will I get to the audience”: 14-hour plane ride? 4 hour train ride? all of the traveling has always been the issue for musicians on the road. The music saves us physically and mentally. I want my audience to feel safe, that would be what it would take for me [to get back to performing].”

“Performing after the pandemic will be more appreciated than before the pandemic, for sure. Being a mom of 3, homeschooling all of them, teaching at Berklee part-time, and working full-time online to produce the Panama Jazz Festival, every time I performed could have been the last time I performed, so I have developed an unusual relationship with performing. I am not afraid of not performing. The world I imagine after Covid is any world I wish to be in. I am not afraid of change, and can make a home out of anything I have. If I have a home, health, and love, I can make the world I want. Audiences do not make or not make me feel comfortable. Comfort comes from within. My social work with music does not depend on performing or having a building, or even money. Our festival is non-material, our festival is in the minds and hearts of people, and that can not be killed by Covid. Even if one person who loves our festival is alive, our festival will remain.”

“I’m concerned about the economic aspect of this. People will need to get back to work and may accept reduced fees and lesser accommodations than what was happening before this. I’m worried about flying to the concerts, especially internationally where I do most of my work. Somehow the only thing that I’m not worried about is getting up in front of people, regardless of the size of the venue (as long as things are clean and masks are in place)… It’s all the stuff surrounding getting to the concert and getting home safely that concerns me. A real vaccine would be the ideal solution, but in lieu of that, more time until this picks up. In general I imagine that it will be a long time before I’m out traveling 40 weeks out of the year… if ever!”

“I believe the post-pandemic world will be liberating beyond our wildest expectations!”

2. What precautions will you take going forward – at least until we have a clear sense that Covid-19 has been successfully eradicated?
“I will wear a mask, not shake hands, wear gloves when necessary, basically do everything that we are being told by experts to do in order to minimize the chances of contracting [Covid]. I will continue to teach online and we are not sure if the fall semester will be completely online or a hybrid of online and some classes in person. This is all uncharted and unknown territory, and some of our decision-making changes as we are continually updated.”

“I will stay at home and stop the spread. I will read the CDC guidelines, listen to Dr. Fauci, and read the Washington Post and The New York Times. I will observe the safety guidelines and do so with my family. I will contribute to organizations working for health care, voting rights, and equal conditions for all. I see these as essential for ensuring fair elections and easing the burden on communities of front-line workers who are hardest hit. As an artist I will continue composing and expanding my remote collaborative activities as much as possible. As a supporter of the arts, I will commission other artists, especially trumpeters, and continue to platform emerging artists at Greenleaf Music. Festival of New Trumpet Music is already in preparation of our first digital edition in September 2020. For those of us who are relatively safe, helping others is how we make this situation sustainable.”

“Wiping down the piano, bringing my own microphone, eating at home as much as possible, telling everyone “they can wait.”

“We will take precautions to stay healthy – masks, vaccines, and everything and anything that can protect people’s lives and health, innovation will be a must.!”

“Cleansing all backline (mics, piano, drums, bass, etc.) and any greenroom areas in a more diligent manner. Understanding that different people in the group will have different comfort levels with all aspects of returning to performing. Masks for audience members. Shorter set lengths to reduce the time of exposure to crowds – 45-60 minutes max.”

“Covid-19 may never be eradicated. I take the same precautions I’ve always taken: wash my hands, fortify my immune system, and stay in constant communication with my Creator.”

3. What will be your expectations of those who present your performances, in terms of safeguards, audience considerations, and overall attention to making sure artists’ needs are met in that regard?

“I have faith in the presenters and audiences once we get the OK to hit the road.”

“I would hope that all venues really sterilize and clean their venues as often as possible. I think that the correct distancing between audience parties is very important as well. And I think streaming options for payment should be made available from venues. We have to figure out how to keep going during this unprecedented time. We have to find other ways of developing streams of income.”

“Presenters would have to take the lead in providing an acceptable environment for performances. The level of risk would need to be extremely low. I would not ask any of my musicians to risk their safety for a gig. And I would not expect my heroes to go out and perform unless they felt 100% confident in their surroundings.”

“Be aware that it is a two-way street. Artists have always had needs. Now, the artists will have a few more new needs, as will the audience. I’d want a promoter to know that no concert is life or death, just good or bad, or worth it or not worth it.”

“I expect festivals to take the health of artists and audiences very seriously and to always place life and health over earnings. That is what I will do with my festival.”

“My expectations of promoters and presenters is that they be fair, honest, considerate, and just as concerned for the artists and audiences as they are for their bottom line.”

For our benediction, one respondent closed with these lovely sentiments: Sent with much love and, despite some of the challenging viewpoints, the utmost optimism and enthusiasm for all of us as humans.” AMEN


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Programming music radio in pandemic times

Several weeks ago, back when this country first took our current Covid-19 global pandemic seriously, with governors issuing stay-at-home orders, one of my jazz radio colleagues wrote a Facebook post asking how we were individually and as stations going about conducting our broadcasts. My comment confirmed that I was one of a number of music programmers at my station who continue to report to the studio to conduct our programs, further detailing why.

In my case, I’m a weekly, late night programmer at WPFW 89.3FM (streaming live: serving the Washington, DC metro region, aka the DMV. For those not familiar, WPFW is the Nation’s Capital region’s member of the Pacifica network, the last bastion of left side radio in the broadcasting world, and all programmers are volunteers. WPFW, whose programming principle is “Jazz & Justice Radio”, has always been the most music show-friendly station in the Pacifica realm, broadcasting a potent mix of public affairs, community affairs, and political opinion talk shows, and music shows encompassing a mix of jazz, blues, old school R&B, Latin music, new school (hip hop, house, club music), Caribbean and African music. It should also be noted that WPFW has no playlist(s), and no studio library; we programmers bring our own choices of music. At the hour of my jazz/jazz-informed music program, Ancient/Future Radio – Wednesdays 10pm-midnight – there are no station personnel onsite, so no “strangers” or outsiders scurrying in and out of the studio conducting station business, and the station has established a strict sanitizing protocol for our programmers. At that hour, my only human contact is the programmer who hands off to me, and the following programmer I hand off to.

So I’ve continued to conduct my program from the WPFW studio. There was definitely some initial trepidation, particularly from my family, but for me my program has become a bit of a weekly salvation of sorts. It’s pretty much the only time all week I venture away from my neighborhood, driving to downtown DC peacefully at that hour from my Maryland home amidst vastly reduced traffic. I’ve also noticed that my weekly show planning is a bit more meticulous and perhaps occupies a tad more of my thought process than prior to these pandemic times. I’ve also noted how many of my fellow WPFW programmers continue to dutifully report to the studio to conduct their programs – also tacitly recognizing that our community radio station, though somewhat powerful in our broadcast reach, does not possess the financial largesse to equip every programmer (and the great majority of us are weekly programmers) with remote programming resources. With all that in mind, I reached out to my fellow WPFW music programmers to check their collective temperatures on programming from the WPFW studios in these pandemic times. Each responded to the same two questions. Here’s what they had to say…

Craig Williams
Program/day/time/theme: Morning Brew – Classic Jazz Edition/Thursdays/5:00-8:00 a.m. I play predominately straight-ahead jazz from bebop to recent releases with occasional forays further afield to other sub-genres within the jazz idiom, as appropriate for any given show. Likewise, I might delve into blues, R &B, gospel and other related genres to augment the straight-ahead jazz. Many shows have a specific concept , two or three. Others, I simply play music I feel my listeners will appreciate.

Why do you continue to report to WPFW to conduct your program?
In no particular order, a) I don’t really feel I have the production capabilities to produce a high quality show from home, b) going to the studio provides some semblance for normalcy, otherwise sorely lacking these days, c) I can still take calls from listeners, and d) I feel given the disinfecting protocols in place, it is safe to do so. I trust my fellow programmers to follow those protocols.

What’s your sense of what you’re providing to our community in so doing?
Even in the best of times, people have so many music and entertainment options. One can play LPs, CDs, streams, internet radio, podcasts, downloads, movies, etc., etc. What local, live, broadcast radio provides, which the other options do not, is a sense of community, and WPFW, as a community owned and operated radio station, provides such community better than any other station in our listening area. It is a true honor, privilege and pleasure to be part of that community, even if it now requires gloves, masks, quantities of disinfectant spray, and knowing how far away is six feet. As always, I try to program a well curated show that brings a sense of education and connoisseurship to the music that both my listeners and I truly love. Nowadays, I also try to play music the audience will find comforting, soothing, spiritual, and contemplative; whatever they may need to help get through these isolating times and feel that sense of oneness with the community. Am I succeeding? Is it working? Judging by an increase in the average number of online listeners and the phone calls I receive while on-air, I certainly hope so.

Jim Byers
Latin Flavor Classic Edition, Sunday’s 6:00pm-8:00pm, Palladium Ballroom-era Mambo, Cha Cha Cha & Latin-jazz

The Station staff has gone to great lengths to plan for cleaning the Studio, and as a Sunday night host there is nobody around except the host just before/after you. So, that helps. More personally…, there’s nothing like the sense of connection with the audience via a live studio broadcast. I made the decision 24 years ago that if it was worth doing, I would do the radio program as if I were being paid. Continuing through the COVID-19 crisis is an unexpected extension of that.

Furthermore, as a programmer I find that the ‘pressure’ of giving a ‘live-performance’ enhances my creativity with what I present to the audience. There are moments of inspiration that occur ‘in the moment’ which – while possibly approximated, cannot be fully realized in a pre-recorded show. If while playing a descarga by the Alegre All-Stars, I hear saxophonist Jose “Chombo” Silva sample a few measures of “You Do Something to Me,” and realize I’ve got the tune in my bag on Georgie Auld’s LP “Sax Gone Latin”… BOOM! An inspired transition! I may or may not have made that connection in a pre-recorded set

As a programmer you always hope that you’re having an impact. While tragic, the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the immense value of traditional radio. People are leaning on WPFW to help them cope with the reality of quarantine. On a deeper level, I think that during a pandemic (and also a political era) when everything we once thought of as normal and ‘certain’ has been upended, it’s comforting to have ‘that one thing’ that still sounds and feels ‘the same’. For many, that one thing is WPFW.

Coincidentally, earlier this week I was made aware of commentary about my program by students at Boston College. For the last couple of years, their professor Jason McCool (a former DC resident, and still an avid listener) has incorporated listening to an evening or two or the Latin Flavor Classic Edition part of his “History of American Music’ class. For many, this is their first experience with ‘old school’ curated radio. Weaned in the efficient, impersonal randomness of Spotify, they are universally stunned by the ‘curated listening experience’ of a traditional radio show. They are amazed how the LFCE feels ‘personal’… like a conversation. Most have never listened to Latin music, certainly not mambos from 60 years ago, but they find themselves fascinated by the stories behind the tunes and drawn into the music. Some of the Latino students are transported back to childhood dinners at grandpa’s house with Machito or Tito Puente blaring from the console stereo. Proudly, several of the students have become regular listeners long after their assignment has ended.

I think this ‘outside view’ from new, young listeners provides an insightful window on the impact of all WPFW hosts, especially during this time. The genre or era of music is actually quite secondary to the thirst for an authentic experience, which is what WPFW provides. My hope is that this time at home re-introduces more and more listeners to the magic of Live Radio.

Dr. Nick
Southern Soul Rumpin’, Saturdays 12 noon-2pm, Southern soul/R&B
Management has insured us with the supplies that are in studio that safety precautions are being met. The programmer before me does a thorough job wiping down equipment (I’m there to watch) and I in turn do the same for the show following mine. My drive in and from the station is done with a mask on.

Having been designated an essential employee is not new to me. I spent 38 years as an Air Traffic Controller. My entire career, I’ve been an essential employee. Many years ago, as the Supervisor on duty, I stayed behind after evacuating the tower due to a fire in an equipment room a few floors below. In the event of some major breaking news, who’s going to tell the people? If they’re listening to the radio, they hear it from us first.

The fact that management has given us the choice of doing our shows live or staying at home shows their support for the workforce. We have the choice. I choose to go in.

Chris Deproperty
Don’t Forget the Blues, Thursday, 12noon-1:00pm
I don’t go into the station during the day. I prepare it at home.

Even though I don’t go into the station during the day, people want to hear the Blues, fresh every week, as a diversion from what’s going on, although I do have some Containment songs.

Candy Shannon
Friday Morning Brew – 5:00am-8:00am. Theme: Jazz Matters.

I continue to travel to the station because I never thought about not coming in. As long as I’m well. I’ve been in live broadcasting for so many years, I’ve internalized the stricture that “the show must go on.“ For me, working in the studio is part of the show. I don’t have a studio space at home. Occasionally, l’ve recorded voiceovers in a closet to a portable recorder; not conducive for a 3-hour music program. In this case, ‘PFW makes it doable. Management requires of programmers a comprehensive safety routine including masks and plenty of disinfectant. One person in the studio at a time. That’s usual for me. I relieve one person and one person relieves me. And, an important part of my weekly routine remains intact in this time of Covid 19. Truth – I come in to the station because I can. I enjoy it, look forward to it and would miss it if I couldn’t.

I hope the consistency and reliability of WPFW’s hosts and programmers is important to our listeners. Many of our hosts broadcast from home for excellent reasons. Social distancing is an issue for public affairs program hosts and guests. Technology today makes it possible for the home-based radio show to sound professional. But, someone still must be in the studio to make this happen. I’ve taken a few calls from listeners who express appreciation for my program and the station as a whole. We are what radio does best – a consistent, dependable, regular part of daily lives, with its unique programming and we sound good!

Mojugba Radio, Thursdays 2:00am-5:00am
The theme of the program is actually in the name MOJÙGBÁ Radio. MOJÙGBÁ is a Yoruba word meaning, “I Give Homage.” It’s also a sacred Yoruba prayer and ritual giving homage to the ancestral spirits and to the Òrísá (African Deities manifesting in nature). MOJÙGBÁ Radio also in itself is a ritual, and was spawned from a dance party I started February 15, 2013, out of a vegan cafe in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, NY. The music (from very earthy and organic, to deep atmospheric and cosmic Afro Futuristic) has specific elements of the African Indigenous Diaspora (soul, uplifting, telling a story/taking a journey, and danceability). The lines dividing the genres of soul, jazz, funk, fusion, house music, Detroit techno, rare grooves, and beyond are blurred completely out with the intention of expansion.

I continue to report to the WPFW studio (for as long as I am able) out of a sense of keeping a live element factor to the program. Being able to interact with callers, even interacting with those on my social media who are listening in real time.

I see myself providing musical healing, uplifting consciousness, much like in the spirit of one of my all time favorite songs by one of my all time favorite artists Expansions by Lonnie Listen Smith & The Cosmic Echoes. I believe that I am here to expand minds, unplug from the matrix, and my intention is to reflect that through the music, not only as a Disc Jockey but also as a Radio Programer. Most important, bringing music, good music new, old, forgotten, seen and unseen, to the music lovers and enthusiasts not only locally but worldwide.

Miles Willis
Milestones, Tuesday mornings 2:00am to 5:00am; A presentation of jazz which features all styles and eras, with the music of Miles Davis as its motif.
My age and ethnicity make me at least statistically more vulnerable to infection, illness and death from COVID-19. In spite of this, or maybe because of it, I continue to broadcast live in studio for solace and relief, in the midst of the near cataclysmic disruption of normality and routine in all other areas of my life. Broadcasting is my ONLY activity that remains largely unchanged since the onset of the coronavirus.

I feel an even greater sense of responsibility and commitment toward our community of listeners. The largely uninterrupted stability and consistency of WPFW’s programming, is most likely one of the few connections to their pre-coronavirus lives that they can still cling to. This ‘new normal’ has highlighted and strengthened the interdependence between us and the community.

Tom Cole
G-Strings, Sunday 9:00am-12noon, stringed instrument music of one sort or another.
I feel a responsibility to the audience and the musicians. People seem to enjoy the show and I like sharing music with them.

Maybe [listeners are getting] a little enjoyment or enlightenment. I hope I’m introducing them to music they’ve maybe not heard before. I also feel it’s important to support area musicians – there’ve been and continue to be a lot of great guitar players from around here. That’s why I think it’s important to announce concerts or club gigs – to give the players some attention and let listeners know what’s available. I hope [live music performances] return some day.

Rusty Hassan
Late Night Jazz, Thursdays from 10:00pm-midnight. Classic and Contemporary jazz
I continue to program my show in the WPFW studio during the Covid-19 crisis because the protocols established make it a safe environment and I gain solace in sharing the music I love with the audience. I come to the studio because I doubt if I could do it from home. My programming style is very improvisational. Although I select the artists I will feature in advance, I frequently change my mind on which recording I’ll play, even if I had a particular composition in mind for days. I can’t explain it. I’ve been programming this way for over 50 years. I couldn’t do this at home with a laptop.

I think it is very important for WPFW to keep the music on the air during this time of crisis. The passing of Wallace Roney really hit me hard because I knew him since he was a teenager. Having the opportunity to share his music on the air gave me solace. Then It was Ellis Marsalis, Bucky Pizzarelli, Lee Konitz, Henry Grimes… artists that our audience would want to hear. Although it wasn’t from Coronavirus, the passing of Bill Withers certainly had to to be memorialized and his Soul Shadows with the Crusaders became a theme. Beyond remembering those who have left us it is just as important to let the audience know about those artists who are live streaming and to feature their recordings. I am extremely grateful that I have the opportunity to share the music of those Soul Shadows on my mind and the artists who are performing today who need our support to let the audience know they are still on the planet.

Bill Wax
Roots and Fruits, 2:00pm-4:00pm Saturdays, Classic blues
I have been doing radio for 40 years and throughout that time it was the media that was always there no matter what the circumstances were. This is no different. I believe folks appreciate a live host in times like these. I also get a great deal of satisfaction feeling like I was making a difference for in people’s lives no matter how small a difference it maybe. Plus I do love what I do on the show.

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Job one: audience development

Open Sky Jazz Commentary #1
By Willard Jenkins

A constant refrain from many of us who love jazz music and simply cannot understand why more of our peers (and sometimes even folks living under our same roof!) don’t seem to appreciate the music – or at least not with the same level of passion as do we the deeply immersed – is to search for systemic issues as the culprit.

We talk about what some see as the lack of sufficient venues dedicated to jazz (and Lord knows we currently face the challenge of the aftermath of our current pandemic and what that will mean to our cherished venues!). Others of us talk as though “jazz musicians just ain’t what they used to be”, a living-in-the-past mentality that more than a few of us cling to with great tenacity – ignoring the gifts today’s generation of jazz musicians have to offer. Still others of us see the criminal lack of music education in our public school systems as the major culprit for the neglect of jazz by larger audiences.

The late jazz master Max Roach, (in part inspired by the example of his godson, hip hop pioneering media figure and scenester Fab 5 Freddy (Braithwaite), and other learned folks postulated that the birth and subsequent rise of hip-hop coincided with the draconian Reagan-era cuts to pubic school arts education. The prevailing wisdom being that kids are innately blessed with the will to make music, and when those cuts meant that succeeding generations of school kids would not have such easy access to instruments in the schools as did, let’s say the Boomer generation, they found other means of musical expressions in a kind of found vehicles arena – exploring turntable technology and spoken word expressions.

As I see it, the most critical issue facing jazz music continues to be audience development, the need to grow the jazz audience to a level that includes those additional potential jazz audience members who simply have not been sufficiently exposed to the music enough to become regular and appreciators and even avid consumers of the music.

Having taught jazz survey and jazz history courses on the university level (including Cleveland State University, and Kent State University, my alma mater) I never fail to be amazed at the number of people who simply have not been exposed to this music, and certainly not in ways that would encourage them to become jazz audience members.

Let me give you an example. For the most recent jazz courses I’ve taught, each final exam is an essay test that has included a final question for which each student respondent is guaranteed the maximum number of points – in other words it’s a bit of a throwaway question – but certainly one with an ulterior motive. That question simply asks the students what has this course meant to you? It never ceased to amaze me how many – and these are college students I’m talking about – who respond with words to the effect that, I never knew this music existed! Or, this course has opened up a new world of music for me! That’s the power of jazz to open up the ears of those new folks who are simply not exposed to the music.

Then there are those who, without even investigating the music, think jazz is too complicated, or is somehow old folks music. Yes, I admit that listening to jazz does most often requires degrees of deeper listening immersion than most popular music commands. But why place that familiar stricture that I just don’t understand that music jazz music? On the other hand, there are certainly plenty of folks who have the aptitude for deeper levels of listening.

Some folks think you have to know something to enjoy jazz. I remember a great line from the late poet Sekou Sundiata, who once said when he was young that he didn’t truly appreciate John Coltrane because he mistakenly thought you ‘had to belong to something.’ Yes, there is that kind of insider perspective among some jazz fans. And let’s admit it, there’s also a kind of I know something that you don’t… attitude among some jazz enthusiasts. But please don’t let that stop you from checking out jazz.

In an interview I did with him for a forthcoming book, the jazz critic Gene Seymour said, “Jazz is neither a trip to the dentist, or a complex code whose secrets are out of reach to all but either select or mutant beings.”

We have extraordinary jazz education – perhaps the strongest sector of the jazz community is its global education system – we have more than enough proficient to excellent level jazz artists vying to play this music, from around the world – and we do indeed have a decent amount of jazz venues striving to present this music we call jazz. What we need more than anything is to grow the audience for jazz, if only to engage enough people to support the careers of these young musicians emerging on the scene – at least once we get beyond the necessities of our current social distancing era.

We must further develop the audience for jazz through simple exposure; we must grow the audience for jazz so that there is an expansion, an expansion of the number of venues that will employ the legion of jazz musicians playing this music well who are steadily arriving from education programs, thus encouraging musicians to practice and sustain this art form, to grow the number of stages for musicians to perform – a factor further challenged by whatever brave new world we face once we have gotten beyond the current pandemic. That’s the biggest issue facing the growth of jazz music… audience development!

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Remembering Geri Allen

Geri Allen interview 5/21/99
In the late ’90s I was engaged by Betty Carter and 651Arts to serve as a consultant to the program Jazz Ahead, which Betty was laser-like focused on developing as a learning environment for young musicians, and which at the time was hosted by 651Arts at the classic former Majestic Theatre (now the Harvey Theatre in honor of Brooklyn Academy of Music founder Harvey Lichtenstein) at 651 Fulton Street in Brooklyn and in its current 21st century iteration is hosted by the Kennedy Center. In ’99, among the teaching professionals for Jazz Ahead were Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, and Geri Allen. This interview with Ms. Allen was conducted with that Jazz Ahead teaching/mentoring/learning environment in mind, relative to how Geri developed her craft.

Willard Jenkins: Where did you begin your study of this music?
Geri Allen: From listening; my dad’s record collection was a source of information for me as a kid, he was a big fan. So I would say hearing that music around me all the time was the organic beginnings of it. I had started playing the piano at around 7, I think from having the music in me that way, although I was playing classical piano and taking lessons in that, I still would always go off on my own and try to figure out things, exercise my ear muscles, without even really knowing what I was doing. I think it was in me.

What kind of records did your parents have?
Charlie Parker was the main staple in the collection. In my classical lessons I was fortunate to have a teacher that wasn’t intimidated by jazz, so when she saw my interest she supported it, she didn’t try to purge it like a lot of [classical] teachers. I’ve heard stories from friends of mine that [teachers] would tell them things like they were gonna lose their technique if they tried to play jazz, they discouraged it and told them it would interfere – I hate this term – with their legitimate technique. My teacher wasn’t like that at all, she was very open, and even though she knew nothing about [jazz] she supported the creative process I was going through.

At what point did you come into direct contact with professional jazz musicians?
In high school; I started as a freshman at Cass Tech in 9th grade. Right away the premier ensemble to be associated with was the jazz ensemble, and there were a lot of really good ensembles. I had already made a decision that I wanted to be a professional musician, and jazz was my vehicle. Even though I was studying a lot of different things I was trying to learn to be a professional, which meant that I would have to cross over genres – at least that was what Marcus Belgrave was telling me. Donald Byrd was another person who was around Cass, his alma mater. He came back and did things with us students; we did “Cristo Redentor” with him live, and he helped us raise money to travel to Australia. And I performed in the madrigal group, in the orchestra, the harp and vocal group (which Dorothy Ashby came out of) and just a really rich environment. But the jazz ensemble was one of the most competitive.

Trumpet & teaching master Marcus Belgrave was a powerful early influence on young Geri Allen

What other professional musicians, besides Marcus Belgrave and Donald Byrd, had an impact on you in those years?
I would say Harold McKinney, Kenny Cox, Roy Brooks… I played in a group called Endangered Species with George Goldsmith and it was a great time for a young person because all of them were available and they were especially supportive of that. If you were there for the music, they were there for you.

Endangered Species was one of your earliest bands outside of school?
I played in Roy Brooks’ band Artistic Truth. Marcus [Belgrave] is the one that I really spent the most time with.

So he had the most impact on your training?

Obviously it was a rich environment for you to learn, in Detroit.
Things like [independent Detroit jazz record label] Strata was going, and the musicians were really self-empowered, and the community was really strong and loved the music. There were places outside of the mainstream circle where music was happening all the time. We used to have a jam session at Northwestern High School, with Ernie Rogers, and we used to be there until 4 and 5 in the morning. All of us aspiring players would be there every Saturday; that was real important to be there. There were a lot of different things that kept you going.

Those organized jam sessions were obviously very important to your development, but those kinds of situations are not available now as much as they were then. Many of the jazz musicians that are arriving now come solely from the conservatory. What do you think is missing from their training if they aren’t able to be involved in that kind of jam session, nurturing environment?
I don’t think it’s unfortunate just for the new generation of players, I think its unfortunate for us as a [jazz] community. I think we all need it, and I think the listeners that are involved in coming out to hear those jams gained a lot from that too. I think the tilt on it generally is that it’s the young players coming out that miss out, and that’s true. Something like Betty [Carter] created [Jazz Ahead] is a [positive alternative, although we really still need those kinds of environments in our community. I think Jazz Ahead is an opportunity for them to rub elbows with the musicians, the great musicians, in the same way we grew up being able to do it. We could do it more often, on a day to day or weekly basis, which is what I think people need to be able to do to perfect their craft, but at least they get a taste of what it is; which will hopefully inspire them to go out and maybe even find ways amongst like minds – even though they’re young too, but we found ways to rehearse at each other’s house and play each other’s music and work things out. Maybe that’ll inspire them to maybe search out the people that are there. In every town there are great musicians and these people really get a lot of energy being able to share that knowledge.

At what point did you come in contact with Betty Carter?
I first met her at Howard University, around ’75-’76, and she had a great band with Kenny Washington, Curtis Lundy, and Khalid Moss. It was really exciting to watch her perform, she inspired a lot of us. We were all there, everybody came away with a real big excitement – she brought that. I remember not really talking to her, but just the impact of that.

Then I met her maybe three or four years later in Pittsburgh. Nathan [Davis] had told her that I was a musician who admired her work. She was sitting on a panel and I don’t think she knew me from Adam, but she invited me to join her on the panel, and I thought that was really generous since I didn’t really feel like she knew my work. But I think she was trying to encourage me. We had an opportunity to talk, we had lunch, and we started developing a rapport. I remember her piano player was late for the sound check for the performance, so she invited me up to sit in, and that was the first time I played with her.

How did your relationship develop and evolve through the years?
She was always really supportive and positive. Once I got to New York it took me some time to get on my feet. I started doing some things as a leader in ’82, which is when I got out of [University of] Pittsburgh; ’83-’84 I started being able to take my own trio out. I would see her at different places and she was always real positive. Her music was always a source of inspiration for me.

It wasn’t until the late 80s that I actually hooked up with her; she managed me for three years under BetCar. So Ora Harris and Betty took care of me and that was a major turning point in my career, in terms of legitimizing me. I did lots of things with her: we did duos, lots of performances just us. We performed in Europe. We did a duo on ”Droppin’ Things” and people started calling she and I to do duo concerts and we did a number of things. I think from that experience, when the idea came up to do the quartet with Jack [DeJohnette] and Dave [Holland] she put me in there. That was a great opportunity for me to be out there with this strong situation, to be on the road with Betty. We did all of the summer festivals [1994].

Even though you were working with Betty with very experienced musicians, there was still a lot of mentoring?
With [Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland] too. They both worked with Betty when they were up and coming players. They both respected her greatly and so they looked up to her in the same way I did. On the bandstand every night there was something unusual that would occur. I came away from that environment with the tools to be a much better player. There were real specific things that she would help me to make it to the next step as a player; that environment was key.

So I guess you were learning from Jack and Dave as well.
Definitely; to play with Jack and Dave, they have that quality that makes you have to rise. I had played with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian in a great trio environment; and I got to play with Ron Carter and Tony Williams, which was a great trio environment. Playing with Jack and Dave prepared me for that environment. I look forward to that opportunity to play with them again because I came away a better player.

Considering those and your earlier experiences what’s your sense of younger musicians learning from older jazz musicians?
There’s no other way [laughs]. It’s like what is your sense of breathing air…. you have to breath, there’s no other choice. I think that’s why [Jazz Ahead] is important. Most of the cultivating is going on in the universities, so I highly recommend that students today go to those places where great players are [teaching], because that’s gonna be their opportunity to kind of get a feeling of what that experience was of learning on the streets, and of coming up that way. I have always hoped that the scene will kind of turn around and there will be more such environments city to city so that the music can be thriving in the communities again. I know that there’s a demand for it because whenever you play for people that come around and they are really energized by the music, and you hear a lot of wishing that there was more available. With these young people coming up, their excitement has to help fuel that. There’s a great love for the music out there, and its missed, I hear it from people all the time.

Are there other mentors out there like Betty Carter that young musicians can learn about?
I think they are out there, and the more that they seek these people out, the more possibilities there will be for them. But there is a certain amount of homework involved in being put in a position like that. I speak from the standpoint of coming up in a place like Detroit, you were afforded the opportunity if you were serious and if you were really out there trying to get better. The discipline aspect of the arts and music is a necessity, it cultivates more than just your ability to play, it cultivates your personality, it helps you get a sense of what life is.

I know for certain that the public schools created that opportunity for me. I took private lessons, my parents made that possible for me so I’m very grateful for it. But I also had the opportunity to experience music daily in a very disciplined, organized, and inspired environment. I think that’s very fundamental, that every young person through their school system have that opportunity. I just hope there is more support of that, because that’ll make a big difference. Through the public schools you should be able to access the great musicians in the city that are just looking for the opportunity to share the music with young people. Somehow it has to be gotten across that this is a viable thing to do. I think that is a big way the music can thrive again, through the public schools, through searching out these musicians whether they have degrees or not, to come in there and share their knowledge and their years of experience.

How will you and Jack work with the Jazz Ahead student musicians for the June program, what kind of environment are you going to develop for them?
Creativity! It’ll be about making the music, it’s a hands on thing. You get in there and… just the process of polishing things and trying to get them to the performance level is the whole approach to how I learned. I’m going to work through this with great respect for Jack, of course. The ideas that he’ll bring in will be such a great opportunity for those kids. The idea is to use this as a workshop with a performance opportunity. Basically jazz is workshop, you’re in workshop for your whole life, honing your craft so you can get better.

What is the greatest legacy that Betty Carter left here for us?
Self-determination is a big one. She was always a person who was connected with her body, there was like a continuous… Betty was able to always be busy, always working, whether she had a major label behind her or not.

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