Ghosts in the Machine, Part III: The Ghosts

This is the third in a series of articles on jazz musicians in popular music and jazz and popular music as fields of study in higher education. Ghosts in the Machine, Part III: The Ghosts In a recent essay in Commentary, Terry Teachout, arts and culture critic for the Wall Street Journal, makes an argument for […]

Continue reading
PSWGhostMachineImage Part 2

Ghosts in the Machine, Part II: “The Machinery”

This is the second in a series of articles on jazz musicians in popular music and jazz and popular music as fields of study in higher education. Part II: The Machinery Jazz musicians have played an important role in the development of popular music from the 1960s until today (we should also remember that jazz actually […]

Continue reading

Ghosts in the Machine, Part I: “Jazz Musicians and Popular Music”

Part I: The Machine(s) Jazz and classical musicians have long had a troubled relationship with pop music. (By “pop music,” I mean all styles outside of classical and jazz—country, rock, hip-hop, rap, etc.—any style that enjoys a double-digit market share is properly called “popular”, as opposed to the dismal 4-6% (combined) that is shared by […]

Continue reading

Tuition in Wonderland: Higher Education Funding in the United States and Europe

College tuition and student loans have been in the news a great deal in recent years, largely because of the alarming amount of student debt in the United States. Currently, student debt is more than $1.2 Trillion dollars, higher than both credit card debt and auto loans. This debt is no longer held by private […]

Continue reading

Hero: Thoughts on the Music and Career of David Bowie

I was truly shocked and saddened by the news of David Bowie’s passing. I had an immediate flashback to the 10th grade, Mr. Ogorman’s French class at Riverside High School in Windsor, Ontario, where I had a classmate named Morven, who I didn’t know at all (in fact, I doubt I ever even talked to […]

Continue reading
Dirty Looks

Ted Gioia’s Bar Talk: Can a Musicologist Make Club Owners Pay More?

Ted Gioia’s recent article entitled Can Club Owners Make Musicians Play for Free? is, like many of his other posts, quickly going viral on social media with the jazz community. The premise is tailor-made for the times—evil bar owners (corporate elite), poor musicians (downtrodden proletariat), government (selfless saviors) via the courts will ride in on a white […]

Continue reading

And She’s Buying a Lawsuit to Heaven

The Song (or at least the bass line) remains the same. Another second-tier band wants a piece of the first-tier pie, and thus, the battle for ownership of one of the most iconic songs from the classic rock era, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” is heating up. The surviving family members of Randy California, the late […]

Continue reading

Ghost of a Chance: A New Paradigm for Pop Music Success?

I’ve been in Europe since early August as a Fulbright Scholar. Most of that time has been in the beautiful city of Graz, which is in southeast Austria. I am teaching a course at the Jazz Institute at the Kunstuniversität Graz (Graz University of the Arts). As part of this work, I was invited by […]

Continue reading

Beggars’ Banquet: New Music Schemes for New Music Dreams

Over the last decade, we’ve heard a lot about new marketing and funding strategies for music and musicians that were emerging in the age of near ubiquitous internet access. Streaming music and video, Youtube, email lists, artist/group websites and blogs, fanzines, Facebook, digital and hardcopy sales, self-publishing, on-demand publishing and others. Using these new tools, […]

Continue reading

Ghost Story: Something Wicked This Way Comes?

As a jazz musician and composer who grew up in the “classic rock” era, I found myself more attracted to those groups that were working with longer forms, complicated or unpredictable harmonies, meters, and rhythms, and strong musicianship; in other words, I listened to a lot of what we now call “progressive rock.” I still […]

Continue reading

Bureaucracy ad NAuSeuM: Is The Unaccredited Life Worth Living?

  The National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) is an organization that assesses and accredits music schools and music departments across the United States. Towards that end, NASM develops and articulates general curriculum guidelines for music programs in higher education. Music departments must then adhere to these guidelines if they wish to be accredited, […]

Continue reading

Tiny Bubbles: A Growth Industry for Jazz?

With all of the discussions regarding the sad state of jazz careers, it would be surprising indeed to find that jazz has experienced a significant growth spurt in recent years, but it has. Unfortunately, that growth has not occurred in the clubs, concert halls, or other venues in which jazz musicians perform and hone their craft. […]

Continue reading

Bite The Hand That Bleeds You: Justice for Jazz Artists? (Part II)

In my earlier post about the Justice for Jazz Artists (J4JA) movement, I noted that J4JA hadn’t been specific about its demands. What does J4JA want these clubs to do in terms of remuneration and benefits? Here’s one of J4JA’s demands–the organization is demanding that the Village Vanguard “contribute approximately $19,000 annually to the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and Employer’s Pension Fund.” […]

Continue reading
BillBand (from bottom, left to right): Bill Ryan (composer), Vicky Chow (piano), Todd Reynolds (violin), David Cossin (percussion), Mike Lowenstern (bass clarinet), Jonathan Nichol (alto saxophone), Pablo Mahave-Veglia (cello),(not pictured, Ashley Bathgate and Paul De Jong).
Photo by Tim Darwish, used by permission.

Bill Ryan on Music, Teaching, and BillBand’s New Recording: Towards Daybreak

In preparation for a Multiple Choice Quiz, read the following press references received by a certain “mystery” ensemble: WNYC: Top 10 New Music Release of 2009 Soundcheck CD Pick of the Week Winner, Soundcheck Listener Poll, Top Classical Release 2007 Winner, Soundcheck Listener Poll, Top Classical Release of the Decade NEWSWEEK: Feature Article ALL ABOUT […]

Continue reading

Red Pill, Blue Pill: Professor Asia’s Cardinal Sin

Last week, Daniel Asia, a composer with an impeccable pedigree (Yale, studies with Jacob Druckman and Gunther Schuller) who heads the composition department at the University of Arizona, posted on the Huffington Post Arts Blog and it appeared to go viral in certain segments of the music community. I read the post and found it […]

Continue reading