It's been a while since I posted anything on the blog.Due to Touring commitments and other pressing issues that have kept me busy over the last couple of months.
During September there couldn't have been many people familiar with the UK Jazz scene, that had failed to notice the amount of dialogue that was taking place regarding issues of Racism from some Uk Black Jazz musicians. These were mainly but not exclusively taking place online in a group on the social networking site facebook called "When are we going to see more Black Uk Jazz artists on UK Jazz stages". set up by a fictitious avatar using the name "Dave Monk" in fact the group became quickly known as the "Dave Monk group" with quite a few anonymous characters debating back and forth on what ever statement had been posted in the group that day.In no time at all the group became the focal point for many on facebook. attracting a worldwide membership and readership on the net with many well known artists reading and in some cases contributing to the discussions.Some online media outlets in North America also covered the debates.
The announcement of the return of "The Jazz Warriors" happen to coincide with some of those discussions as it was seen that some of the same circumstances that had brought into existence "The Jazz Warriors" in the 1980s were still causing an imbalance on the UK Jazz scene. Various questions were being asked in the Facebook group that seemed to cause all kinds of vexed responses from musicians,punters and lunatics alike.In some cases it was hard to see were some of those who were instantly dismissing any talk of work imbalances were actually getting their evidence from to back up their arguments, particularly when some were using as their evidence the last time they had seen a Black Uk Jazz Musician working, this in some instances meant they would use the presence of a well known Jam session in the centre of town compered by a Black musician as their example of a fair distribution of work!!
Some had never ever even stood on a stage with a UK black jazz musician or had ever been party to any of the decision making process when the very employment opportunities that Black Uk Jazz musicians were being kept away were being distributed, however they felt qualified to speak out because they "Had to" as everything was rosy through their own multicoloured spectacles. therefore this particular Facebook group was dangerous and "rocking the boat" creating divisions by pointing out divisions!!
Fortunately some of the issues that were now being brought up were now being looked at by key decision makers, who had now realised to their credit in some cases that work disparities did in fact exist and in other cases issues were now being brought to the attention of funders,venues,promoters for the first time who where neither aware that an imbalance existed or that ill feeling and suspicion had been directed towards them in anyway. All this through the furore of the group exchanges between musicians and non musicians alike. Some of the disparities will hopefully be addressed in the new year.
The return of the Jazz Warriors also brought a few misinformed efforts at criticism through knee jerk journalism by a few bloggers with their own particular agendas but in some cases when those very same people were crying out about "Tribalism" and "Divisions" in the Uk Jazz scene, they didn't exactly cover themselves in glory as in their own particular track record and on closer inspection they had also failed to show a fair and balanced approach to diversity.an example being one such blogger musician who had been putting on concerts for some time himself leaving an historic record trail on the internet of only ever booking one Black Uk Jazz musician in more than a year of running his own events and then only as a guest of somebody else..Therefore while attacking online the musicians who had spoken out about the issues that affected them and others he himself was guilty of doing exactly the same thing with the woeful lack of diversity shown in his own booking policy, it does make you take with a pinch of salt his particular outpourings while adding the words "bandwagon" and "jumping" into the mix.
Looking back at some of the statements made by people who were very vocal in expressing their own opinions on how integrated the UK Jazz scene has always been historically its obvious that misinformation and denial have been best friends for a very long time.
Some musicians who had been quite vocal in denying that any imbalance or issues existed in public have privately away from the spotlight of the facebook group, agreed with most of things that had been said,in some cases recounting incidents of racial bias that they had witnessed but adding that by the group highlighting things in this way it could cause more divisions so for the sake of maintaining harmony and for some gaining future employment they would prefer to stay anonymous!
Personally I feel that anyone who chooses not to book an artists now for expressing their opinion on these issues probably didn't book them before for some other dubious reason!
There has already been positive outcomes for some Black Uk Jazz musicians who have been approached about bookings in the latter part of this year at venues that had previously displayed a distinct lack of diversity in their bookings policy. Some it has been noted are feverishly & cleverly loading their schedules to deflect any criticism. However the internet can leave an interesting historic trail and so it has been relatively easy to look at where they were this time last year in relation to where they are this year.so that anyone wishing to follow their progress can.
What next, we will have to watch some of the main movers and shakers on the scene next year,especially as now it's not only musicians and the public but funders who are paying attention.
I hope to personally address here on the blog some of the issues raised in the group or in a few interviews earmarked for the New year regarding venues,Promoters,record companies,Education establishments as well as take a look at some of the incredible behaviour from musicians and non musicians that we all witnessed around the groups discussion!