Jazz industry requires its participants not only to possess a plethora of skills, but since humanity has turned away from industry and into the age of information, it also asks them to be open, communicative, digitally inclined, technically adapt and creatively driven. A tall order? Even more so, jazz professionals, educators warn their students and colleagues that jazz audience and the matter of growing it is a true challenge. Yet, we might sometimes forget to ask ourselves if us being a little bit ominous about jazz prospects help young minds pave their way or create obstacles instead.
If we take a step back, we would see a few young minds seeking to fight obstacles and overcome challenges and how well it turned out. 20 years ago this December, Grands Formats set out on a journey to support and acknowledge a difficult and unique format of musical expression… A BIG BAND. Big band, big problems? A problem is a very unsuitable word in the context of Grands Formats and large ensembles. Yet complication is more likely to correctly characterise the path this organisation has chosen. The simple reason is that a larger group of individuals contains more emotion, more ambition, more drama, more unrest and requires more work, more funding, more patience and larger sheets of music. However, it also contains more music, more talent, more force and more history which in my mind is worth fighting for. Nevertheless, in order to make sure that our collective efforts do not get absorbed by the consequences of homogenization we must remember that there are many people in jazz who are just beginning to understand what it takes to be a part of jazz world. There are also those who might be experiencing a loss of faith, a momentarily lapse in judgement or going through hardship unfelt by others. What if we turned to our students and colleagues, especially those who seem to be lagging a bit behind and asked them: what do you need to be free in your art? What is there we can give you? It might not be an instant fix, but it does lead to change.
Now, Grands Formats connects more than 1300 music professionals. If 1300 people individually pulled two people out of a dark spot, we could have 2600 happier people on our planet. That is what a community does and here lies its power.
As we witness more and more horrible tragedies happening amongst us it is crucial to stand together as strong and tall as we can and to make sure that those around us are standing tall together. Then we stride to help those in need, because yes through culture we can heal and yes not all and not always, but someone somewhere is better than no one nowhere.