The 2013 edition of Jazz Camp West is officially over. On Saturday, June 29, everyone packed their belongings and went to the last round of concerts before the barbecue lunch that was our last camp meal. But I had the pleasure of performing in several concerts featuring JCW artists in the days immediately following this year’s camp.
One of the reasons many artists involved in JCW feel that it is one of the high points of their year is that it’s not an institutional environment that needs to negate intuition and passion, but rather a learning environment that fosters and salutes them. It’s a bridge between the traditional and modern approaches to jazz education, where the former was steeped in mentorship and the latter in academic meritocracy.
Are we really the best judges as far as what should and should not be shared with the outside world when it comes to our own music? Are our present selves overly critical of the pieces our past selves have labored over? What is the real purpose behind our attempts to so closely control how, when, and what part of our creative output reaches beyond our individual perimeters?
One of the common complaints about current pop music is that it’s all hopelessly retro, and that we haven’t seen anything genuinely new in about 20 years. Pop music is eating its own tail. The irony is that this kind of self-aware self-referentiality is exactly what was prized and heralded as a savior of concert music a few years ago.