The evolution of the jazz tradition

American jazz music is, in many ways, rooted in its “traditional” repertoire – the American “Songbook” of “standards”. There are, however musicians who emphasise the importance of a fresh approach:

If jazz has a future, musicians like Matt Mayhall could help it get there. A lanky, bespectacled Reno native and graduate of Cal Arts, where he studied with free-jazz pioneer Charlie Haden, Mayhall leads a jazz trio from behind the drum kit. He also plays in a number of rock bands, including the slowcore group Spain, helmed by Haden’s son Josh. He’d like to see the music survive, but he’s worried, too, that it’s stuck in its past.

“I think the most important thing we can do is write our own music,” says Mayhall. His generation — he’s 34 — is not interested in standards. When his trio plays, they only perform music they’ve written themselves. “It’s never ‘By Bye Blackbird,’” he says. “It’s not that I hate that music — I love that stuff. I just don’t think the world needs any more recordings or performances of it.”

Musicians need to make a statement, he says. “It’s like, ‘Who are we and what do we have to say?”

Scott Timberg, “Did the American Songbook Kill Jazz?”, Salon, 24 December 2012. http://www.salon.com/2012/12/24/didˍtheˍamericanˍsongbookˍkillˍjazz/ Accessed 17 March 2013