Recent discussions about jazz have been rather upsetting. Most people believe people who like jazz, especially if they are young, are somehow pretentious.
For people my age, this can be rather sad; sort of like having no one to whom we can pass the torch on a great era for musical taste. When reading articles purporting the pretentiousness of jazz as appropriated in todat’s mainstream musical cultures, I do understand the perspective of the authors. These are young adults who have heard about the magic of jazz but failed to see (or hear) the importance of the movement.
The beauty of the genre was diminished further when a small group of people proclaimed themselves “jazz experts” but were really trying to seem more radical than they really were – in the same way people embellish the truth to appear non-conformist.
On the other hand, I do not believe that an entire musical genre should be disregarded or readily labelled just because of a small population of false fans. This is not to say that all people should like jazz; as with any musical genre, passion and attraction are dependent on individual tastes, which all people should respect. However, this still does not mean that jazz should not be given a chance today.
Jazz enthusiasts like jazz not only for its rhythm and melody, but also for what it represented at the time. One must remember that jazz began as the musical blending of European music and African beat. It became a symbol of a cross-cultural revolution. It also allowed people to express themselves through music and dance; an unheard-of concept at the time.
Younger kids should realize that jazz is neither pretentious or out-of-date. They should open themselves up to the experience and not be swayed by society’s current opinion of it.
Christopher J. Keehner is a New Orleans jazz enthusiast. Having reached his early 60s, he is passionate about educating the youth about this musical genre and what it stands for. Learn more about jazz by liking this Facebook page.