The Future of Music


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Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal/Europe ran my interviews with John Cale, Robert Glasper, Joan as Police Woman and Ari Picker on the future of music. Since the Europe edition is unavailable in North America and my interviews needed to be shortened to fit, I thought I'd make them available here in their entirety...

Robert Glasper, 35, won a Grammy this year for his album Black Radio. The jazz pianist's follow-up, Black Radio 2, will be released in the fall...

“Jazz over the next 10 years will continue to evolve—just as it has for the past 100 years. How quickly new styles emerge, however, will depend on the willingness of jazz musicians to listen to other forms of music and adapt them in their own expressions. Most jazz today is still rooted in the past or is so far-out that it's lost on many younger listeners. Too many jazz musicians have given up on melody and instead play to impress other jazz musicians—not the listener. To be fair, it's a struggle today. Jazz musicians used to connect with listeners by re-interpreting familiar tunes or composing new melodies. But today's popular music has changed—leaving jazz musicians with less to work with. You don't hear too many new songs with melodies you can hum. Instead, the emphasis is on beats and bass lines. But a new jazz form is emerging from musicians who are mixing hip-hop, soul and R&B with jazz. Some older musicians have complained that the results sound more like R&B than jazz. I disagree. We're just stretching the boundaries and thinking of jazz differently. Jazz doesn't have to use old Songbook standards or sound crazy to be considered jazz. Album soul from the 1970s offers jazz musicians an entirely new and exciting Songbook. I like to draw from this era and what's happening now without losing the jazz characteristic. I do this by keeping my acoustic piano in the mix and not electronically looping anything. Part of what makes jazz special is the feeling that a human being is playing every note. This doesn't mean that musicians have to play extended solos. In the future, I think long solos will be replaced by a greater emphasis on new sounds, layered music and samples—and shorter solos. My music is textured this way—without giving up the jazz idiom. Jazz, ultimately, is a mood, a feeling. That won't change."

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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