TALKING HEADS ON ALL THAT JAZZ
28 July 2010
Multi-genre music is the way forward for emerging artists growing up with iPods and an incredible amount of information at their fingertips, according to award-winning trumpet player and jazz teacher at The Con, Phil Slater.
By emerging artists, Slater is referring to "thirteen-year-olds in their bedrooms and garages playing music."
For them, bunkering down into one genre is harder to do than to accept all genres of music as being equal.
Slater, winner of the Freedom Fellowship in 2002, National Jazz Award in 2003 and Jazz Musician of the Year in 2004, was recently interviewed by Dr Michael Webb, a lecturer in Music Education at The Con.
The full version of interview appears in the 3rd edition of online magazine, Extempore.
A segment from the conversation:
Michael: "In many areas of music you've got this bleed-through of avant gardism, and then hip hop comes in contact with technology and invents a whole set of new techniques and so on and so on, and it's not just, anymore, classical or jazz or popular music."
Phil: "I think that's the hardest thing for everybody to grasp about the music scene in Australia. It's even very difficult for arts administrators to get their heads around this.
"It's like what [Brian] Eno talks about—the scenius as opposed to a genius, we're in the middle of this huge scene; and the scene is really interesting.
"Cherry-pick a couple of acts or a project—to me that's really missing the point.
"I often have trouble talking to arts administrators about what I do, because it's a very natural thing, but it's a network—it's a complicated network of things—and the arts funders sometimes don't understand intra-genral collaboration."
Michael: "So there are implications for education, broadly speaking, for institutions to break out of those older ways of thinking about genres and about kinds of careers, and we're not willingly acknowledging or embracing that?"
Phil: "Well, at the moment genre is dead. It's multigenre -that's [what's] new…for emerging artists who are growing up with iPods and this incredible amount of information at their fingertips.
"…By emerging artists I'm talking about thirteen-year-olds in their bedrooms and garages playing music. That's the future, that's the most interesting stuff that's going to be happening, not what's happening in universities.
"It's really these people who are just picking up instruments or computers or turntables or what ever and they're just full of hunger to make music.
"And the way they're consuming music now; the multi-streamed iPod-iTunes genre-shuffling method…"
Michael: "Like Kutiman's ThruYou project on YouTube…"
Phil: "Right. And this element is not a new element. The speed of it, the hypertextual element of it is new, but it's John Cage, it's…"
Michael: "Shortwave radio scanning…"
Phil: "It's Charles Ives, the Unanswered Question, it's all of those elements that speak to the pan-genral, 'outside of the box'—there's the frame and then there's the thing that happens outside of the frame being incorporated into the picture.
"And it's an evolving thing, an organically changing thing that sometimes gets trademarked as a 'work of art'. It's an ecosystem, it's like the weather.
"And works of art are like photographs of a storm. But the thing just keeps going on and on. It's a snapshot."
Phil Slater, as one of Australia's premier musicians and winner of the nation's most prestigious music awards, travels widely to play. His signature sounds can be heard in live theatre, pop/rock music, on film soundtracks, and as a member of a range of leading innovative bands and ensembles.
Michael Webb holds a PhD in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University, Connecticut, USA. He won the 2007 National Jazz Writing Competition.
Contact: Mick Le Moignan
Phone: 02 9351 1385