I don't know if they will post what I wrote; It said it was pending approval. So here's what I wrote (below this paragraph). I'd love to get constructive feedback (CONSTRUCTIVE! Let's be civilized. Personal attacks will be deleted.) as to whether there is any point in my comment. I felt like I was sort of being mean to Levy, and that is not my desire at all. I think the problem might be with whomever is above Levy at the Times, in that they would rather print something fluffy than something real. Again, no disrespect to Mr. Levy. Maybe he'll agree and do something more music-oriented next time? Or maybe he'll be waiting for me in a dark alley with brass knuckles. Who knows? Anyway, here is what I posted. Bombs Away!
While this article by Aidan Levy is extremely well written and interesting, and in some ways informative, I can't help but feel like it's a mere distraction from the state of the jazz scene in New York.
What was not mentioned was how world-class musicians have to play in a venue such as Fat Cat where there are huge groups of young people playing ping pong or shooting pool and COMPLETELY IGNORING the music. And being louder than the music most of the time, as in deafeningly louder. I feel like I'm playing at a fraternity party when I perform there. I'm not dissing the venue, I'm dissing the NEW New Yorkers that go there for dissing jazz by not having the slightest interest in it.
The New York Jazz scene is so lacking in real venues that a gig at Fat Cat is highly coveted, whereas 10 or 15 years ago many of the highest level musicians would never consider playing at such a venue. I love to play music, so I will play there happily when I get the chance. But it is a struggle. It's a struggle to hear myself play over the "Animal House" type of atmosphere!
I think back fondly to places like Bradley's where they had a strict quiet policy. With the exception of the Village Vanguard, that kind of atmosphere is a rarity. Now I'm not saying you have to be completely silent. I'm just saying if the "audience" is drowning out the music, then it is just pointless. Then it ceases to be a jazz club: It's a place that has background music, much like restaurants such as the Blue Water Grill and the Blue Fin where again great, great, world class musicians play, and are incredibly ignored and periodically shushed by the management.
I guess my point is that New York used to be the Jazz capital of the world. Due to the influx of the super wealthy, who seem more interested in expensive restaurants than live music, the Jazz Capital is losing it's claim on the title. In my humble opinion, I don't think an article like this is helping the situation. Wouldn't it be more relevant to do a piece on Dan Tepfer, a brilliant up-and-coming pianist in his own right, and talk to him about his music and his career?
I hate to be a party-pooper, and I'm not trying to be insensitive to the great work that Mr. Levy did writing this piece.(I truly admire the skill of his writing.) But can we put away the ping-pong for a sec and talk about some music? I have a lot of fun playing jazz, but it's not a game. It's serious art that people have invested their entire lives in, and I think it deserves better attention than to be background music for drunk NYU students while they play ping-pong and shoot pool.