Can jazz be played virtually?

Michael Lake recently wrote a post called, Is jazz becoming a caricature of itself. I left a comment and a couple of replies to comments that I disagreed with - okay, that I REALLY disagreed with!  

The topic of the post brought to mind something that I'm really fired up about. From my perspective there is no jazz happening now for the simple reason that to me ,in my humble opinion unless there are people in the same room as the jazz musicians playing - in other words a live audience - not streaming, but real visual and aural contact between the audience and the artist, there is no jazz happening at all these days because of the pandemic.

These streaming things are pathetic attempts to keep the art form going, and I totally understand the heartfelt attempts to at least salvage something to keep our musical and spiritual lives going. But they are in the end not only unsatisfying for both the audience and the artist but more importantly, they set a very bad and dangerous precedent. Its not a big step to imagine that the audience might say to themselves, "Hey, why should we go out and spend a bunch of money on tickets for a jazz show, pay for a babysitter parking, etc. when we can sit in our own living room and watch the same bands for free and avoid all costs all inconveniences?" 

The streaming puts a big distance between the player and the listener which is not a good thing. I am worried that live performances will diminish to the point where it will just be the biggest names performing and actual live audiences will be a special rare thing. 

Remember when there were only horses and trains used for traveling? Well ,the automobile put millions of horse breeders saddle makers and blacksmiths completely out of work - irrelevant and obsolete. The car replaced the horse. Ok, progress is inevitable right? I just don't want to see the Village Vanguard go the way of blacksmiths!!!!

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    I found your audio book earlier this morning and started listening, then wondered where you're living these days and that led me here. I agree that virtual concerts are not the way to go. As a performing jazz musician I've noticed an unfortunate trend over the last couple of decades that people pay less and less attention to music played live. My family and I don't watch TV and have little to do with pop culture, but we watched some streaming events to help keep our musical brothers and sisters afloat. They were ALL disappointing. A few years ago my wife and I sat a few feet away from the band in a small venue and listened to one of the most stunning performances we've ever witnessed. I saw a virtual performance by this same artist and it was completely marred by a lack of confidence and focus which was the polar opposite of her in person performance. Hers was probably the most disappointing, but other performances were far worse from a quality standpoint. Obviously I don't want to name names here as the point isn't to bag on these performers, who I know were doing the best they could, it's just that the format isn't conducive to communication. It's sterile and artificial.

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