Kamasi Washington Leads a New Guard in Jazz (via Seven Days)

It seems that jazz is perpetually on the verge of being “over.” Or, to borrow a phrase often uttered by Reuben Jackson, host of “Friday Night Jazz” on Vermont Public Radio: “Jazz is the greatest music nobody ever gave a damn about.”

That quote originates from Jackson’s father — and was slightly sanitized by the radio DJ. But recent numbers reveal the truth in that sentiment. Nielsen, the global data and information company, noted in its 2016 U.S. Music Year-End Report that jazz makes up only 1 percent of total audio consumption.

Jazz has rarely been mainstream. But, once in a while, a figure comes along who reinvigorates the genre and ignites interest beyond the hepcat set. Saxophonist, composer and free-jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman did it in the 1960s. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, along with the so-called Young Lions of jazz, energetically ushered in a new age of jazz classicism in the early 1980s. Miles Davis practically reinvented the genre every few years. More recently, mavericks such as Robert Glasper and Jason Moran have sparked attention. But figures that resonate widely with younger audiences are scarce in the modern era.

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