Surely jazz is the most accessible popular music that has ever endured for more than just a few years. Of course, there have been many great innovations and innovators across all aspects of music. Jazz enthusiasts are often seen as being narrow-minded purists but my experience has been that lovers of jazz almost always have great respect for many other musical forms. Most jazz fans love many types of music; the major reason they come back constantly to jazz is the improvisational element. I play with many jazz enthusiasts and most have other likes across the music spectrum -though I am not a great reader of music and probably only an average amateur player on my alto. But like most of us who are players, and not just listeners, we can play almost anything in any key. Whether it is great playing or not is another matter, but I like it!
Perhaps the main difference between jazz players and other musicians is that we can create our own music across almost any background chords, in any key or tempo… and without written charts! Every jazz player will be creating something fresh, original, challenging … and hopefully tuneful and vibrant. But like all music enthusiasts, there is not just one genre that counts in our passions. I personally love chamber music, the more melodic sectors of opera and ballet, the large orchestras playing the great symphonies (Rachmaninoff can make me cry) … and I can even tolerate a little country and folk. Good pop is OK – but too little of it is both good and original. I find the ultimate condemnation of the popular end of pop is that fans usually only talk about the great legends in the business such as the Stones, the Beatles and the Beach Boys. Few of those fans care about the here today, gone tomorrow music that you can hear on so many music stations that are almost indistinguishable from each other.
Meanwhile, The UK Parliamentary Jazz Awards are now Britain’s premier awards for the jazz community and jazz fans in both Houses. Jazz Broadcaster of the Year Paul Barnes has worked as presenter and reporter for over 40 years, on Today, The World at One, Woman’s Hour, Sunday, Outlook (World Service), Jazz Notes and numerous other series and single programmes. Paul’s love for all music, but especially jazz, has never left him, and the breadth of his enthusiasm is reflected in what he plays on his BBC radio show ‘The Late Paul Barnes’ broadcast across the East of England and even further afield on the net.