Mark Miller's article in today's Globe and Mail quoted Ornette Coleman as saying; "In music you're only hired when someone activates the phone or writes you a letter."
I asked Steve Lacy not long before he died if he had any plans to come to Toronto and he replied; "If someone invites me I would love to come."
How many great artists, that have the ability to enhance, inspire and maybe even change our world are sitting at home because no one is calling?
At what point in time did it become the job of musicians to organize their own tours, make "applications" to festivals and apply for money for travel assistance etc?
I challenge presenters, booking agents and organizations to search out these artists and convince their communities, mailing lists and subscribers that these artists are top caliber, important and too good to miss. (I realise that this already happens in some cities as there are some strong festivals, presenters etc. that make things happen...we just need more!)
Work together with other presenters to; create lists of desired artists, enlist sponsors (hotels, airlines, granting bodies) and negotiate fees based on multiple bookings.
Here is a short list of artists that they might want to check out (just as a starting point!):
Don Thompson, David Braid, Lina Allemano, Paul Plimley, Christine Jensen, Danni Oore, Phil Nimmons, Rene Lussier, Rob Clutton, Marianne Trudel.
.How about the US?....Henry Threadgill, Ellery Eskellin, Andy Milne, Steve Coleman, Charlie Haden, Dave Holland, Dewey Redman, Howard Johnson...
Perhaps we need to look at what some of our institutions are doing about this:
What is going on at the National Library Jazz series? What should the Canada Council be doing to best use its resources for touring? (training jazz presenters for the future? hiring an in-house publicist?) What if our Colleges and Universities got more involved? Could the CBC be more involved or in touch with what is happening coast to coast?
I know this is just scratching the surface and I know we can't turn the clock back to the "good old days." I hope there are lots of other ideas of ways to gather resources, work together and improve the situation for touring jazz artists in Canada and the United States.
Tim Posgate, Toronto
October 27, 2005