Jazz and the Blogosphere

The New York Times gives us this on how the blogosphere is expanding the world of jazz. (The article also directs attention to our friend Darcy James Argue’s blog, of the same name as his band, Secret Society.)

[O]ver the last six months, a far-flung contingent of musicians and aficionados has made an effort to upend that prevailing notion, armed with stacks of vinyl, high-speed Internet and a shared conviction that things back then were really far from moribund. Along the way, they touched off the year’s most animated public discourse on jazz, a democratic exchange that culminated last weekend in the debut of behearer.com, an interactive database devoted to the music’s most conflicted period.

The movement, so to speak, has its origins in a posting by the trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas on his label’s blog, greenleafmusic.com. “I’m reading a new book by Philip Jenkins called ‘Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties America,’ ” Mr. Douglas wrote at the beginning of the summer, “and I think there are some pertinent tie-ins to the elusive history of the last four decades of American music. Those are the decades Ken Burns couldn’t handle, and this may help explain why.”

That book’s principal argument is that the 1970s saw the failures and excesses of ’60s idealism compounded by national horrors like Vietnam and Watergate, resulting in the rise of a paranoid conservatism. On his blog Mr. Douglas drew a parallel. “There’s a demonization of musicians who pushed the boundaries, successfully and importantly, in that period,” he wrote, “and it has crept into the way history is told and music is taught.”

Noting that “jazz” became an impossibly broad designation around this time, Mr. Douglas posed a rhetorical question: “Is there a writer who can take on the project of an unbiased overview of music since the end of the Vietnam War?” And borrowing Mr. Jenkins’s benchmark of Richard M. Nixon’s resignation as the official end of the 1960s, he proposed a new jazz history that would acknowledge “a generation of multiplicity,” beginning in 1974 and stretching to the end of the cold war.

The call hung in the air for a while.

(H/t DJA.)