Saturday, March 28, 2009


By: Mickey Bass
as Published in All About Jazz issue of April 2009

Jazz, as we once knew it has become a thing of the past. For a lot of years Clubs and Promoters have been saying that this Music is dead. My response to that statement is "How can Jazz be dead when its' creators are still alive, and well and 'creating'?" In other words; if it ain't broke....we wish you wouldn'a 'fixed' it.....

Years ago if you turned on the Radio, within five seconds you knew, without question who was playing. That reality, of an immediately identifiable sound, and persona is a far cry from today. Today what we mostly hear are; good Arrangements, with all the right notes being played, but the Music, on the whole lacks the energy, the fire that Bands in that golden age all had.

In the last thirty years or so, thanks to the efforts of people like Quincy Jones, Dr. David Baker and Thelonious Monk Jr. the Jazz studies programs throughout the scholastic system have led to a greater awareness of this music amongst young people. Yet, it seems that Europeans have always had a far greater awareness and appreciation for this American Classic Music "Our National Treasure".

Throughout the 'Fifties, 'Sixties and 'Seventies, Apprenticeship programs were readily available in this Country, whereby; in order to learn and grow, a Musician could come up through the ranks with Art Blakey & The "Jazz Messengers", Horace Silver, J.J. Johnson, The Jazztet, or Miles Davis. This type of incubator was the 'tradition', the road to learning and developing your own sound and voice.

So. At this point in time, what can we do to restore the integrity to this 'arena'? How can we recreate those Apprenticeship programs? Where are all the new John Coltrane's, Miles Davis's or any other Innovators on the scene of this generation? How can we bring this great and totally unique Music back up to the levels, the standards from which it should have never fallen? What can we do to encourage each individual to develop their own unique sound?

Too much of everything nowadays appears to be about following patterns. Following patterns is a part of it, but only a part of it and can become 'formulaic'; it produces a monotonous clone, rather than a spontaneous - brilliant - spark to the imagination. And therein lies the root of the problem.

If we want to follow a pattern, then what new pattern could be put in place that could revive these standards, of recognition of true greatness, of Leadership and Apprenticeship? It seems that nowadays there is a great market for 'Moderate'.....

At difficult times like these, I believe that the Arts are needed more than ever; because the Arts re-affirm who we are as human beings.

The Kaufmann Center has some very interesting Series, as a matter of fact I did a performance over there with then of Freddie Redd's; "Re-connected" Music from "The Connection", which is now being performed Off-Broadway, with Rene McLean taking his Fathers' role. Jazz @ Lincoln Center is certainly doing many things.....

But, it's more than simply a Museum; in order for the music to retain its' vitality there has to be new lifeblood - so many clubs are doing tributes to many of those great Artists who are sadly no longer with us, which is great - but how about 'Honoring' those who are still here, in our midst, and too seldom heard?

And as a matter of fact we are doing just that, because "Don't talk about it, be about it!"; we have a wonderful "Jazz Legacy Series in a very nice environment", where we are booking all of those true Giants, who are able to be in the vicinity of "Creole"; Curtis Fuller,

Charles Davis, James Spaulding, Lee Konitz, Wallace Roney, Grady Tate. Yes we are doing it and keeping this Jazz tradition alive with some of the Original Innovators, who are still alive and 'kickin'!

How can you Lead, if you do not yet know how to follow? Who can you follow, if those great Masters of this Music are not being heard on the Bandstand?

I love 'Be-bop', I grew up in it, and on it.....I want to perpetuate it because there are a lot of Musical Architects who are no longer with us.....There can be no future without a past, as far as the Music is concerned.

You can read more about Mickey Bass at or at

Mickey has a forthcoming Book, of his own, Hartt College accredited, Original Jazz Improvisational Method; "The Diminished Whole Tone Concept" (c) 2009. One of the major differences of approach in this Method is that rather than simply giving patterns to repeat, to learn from, rather it is an entire aesthetic to absorb, and assimilate, which is much needed in order to truly develop ones' own, unique, individual voice to be heard.

"The Diminished Whole Tone Concept" (c) 2009 will be available through

Mickey also has a Brand New Release out on his "Early Bird" Record label, it's called:

The Mickey Bass New York Powerhouse Ensemble, 'Live' at the Jazz Corner of the World, of which he has said:

"It is my belief, that this record will set a precedent for the future, Because it fulfills what has been lacking in the Music, for so long....."

Early Bird" Records are available at

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