What is Jazz? You can go out and ask 100 people, musicians or not, and you may very well get 100 different answers. It is a term that is divisive, but a music that is concentrated and complex. Jonathan Batiste recently wrote a piece for CNN about this very subject and it makes for an interesting read. He brings his experience as a musician, composer, educator, and most of all, thinker to a subject that has everyone from Nicholas Payton to the New York Times arguing about it.
“I’ve had the good fortune to play with inspiring artists across many genres — Wynton Marsalis, Prince, Busta Rhymes among them. What’s given me the foundation to be able to join such varied musicians is my jazz training,” Batiste begins. “In stark comparison to pop music, contemporary jazz seems too circuitous for most listeners to enjoy casually. The challenge for the contemporary jazz musician, as I see it, is making this subtle and complex art palatable to the greater public.”