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Jazz At Sunset: A View into Jazz by OMC

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Artists' Discussion

Dwight Brewster, Tamm E. Hunt and Sherry Scott

Part I: The music business, technology, corporations, modern youth and modern music

Tamm E. Hunt (TH): We're going to [talk] about you and technology.  In the '80s, when I did know you, there were a group of people like yourself in that camp. ... Each one of them is a self-taught technological person in the '80s. ...

Dwight Brewster (DB): I see where you're going Tamm E. and I'll tell you what I think the difference is, is that when you're a performance-orientated artist, your first thing is "how can I present this product on stage".

TH: And not how can I make the product...

DB: ...uh, make a record.  How can I present this product on stage.  And then, realizing that I need to promote this product, then that's how I gravitated to the record business.

TH: Well that's where I'm trying to get back to.  It's the business of show, that I think brings people to the level of actually going to a producer because the producer is the businessman.

DB: Well let me go further to say that in the year 2002, I think this is fantastic because the record business is all producered out.  Us producers make records so well that they cannot be duplicated live.  People come to the live show, they're disappointed because it ain't nothing like what they heard on the records.  So therefore, with the pressure on records to be lower in cost, with the pressure on 3,500 records released worldwide every month, that nobody can possibly listen to them all, that takes us slowly but unequivocably back to live performance.  The way things are going now, the way the equipment is being made cheaper and cheaper every year, by the year 2010 music will be hobby status.  It will be nothing like the industry that we enjoy.  There will be even less people who can get these multi-national corporate jobs, and everybody else has just to trade songs that was made, where does the money come to make new records?

TH: Well with the advent of the Internet, and being able to merchandise, package, record and sell yourself...

DB: Thaaat's why we're on the Web baby.

Sherry Scott (SS): or download for free

TH: Well, that's a whole other subject. ... Well the other thing is that the industry has enabled [kids] with these little minidiscs.  You can put a thousand songs on one of these.

DB: Well now, you brought up a point.  MP3 player.  Now we're getting to the point, the crux of what I'm saying.  You see, these multinational corporations, in my opinion they don't care, their bottom line is the same.  These same corporations that own our music, also own the company that makes the burners and the CDs.

TH: the technology, yes

DB: So in the end, when they sit down in Japan...

TH: They get paid.

DB: ...or in the Netherlands where these technology seats are, they're getting paid.  And their bottom line doesn't change.  They just pick up the phone and call the CEO in charge of the entertainment division: "more profits please Ma!".  Come on.  So therefore, the industry has to metamorphosize into something, so while we are waiting, we're gonna be a band, okay?

SS: Because right now, of course, as artists, that's the way we get paid.  We go to work... 

DB: I can't guarantee my record is going to sell anymore.

SS: ...just like everybody else.  I feel that we're working musicians but just like everybody else gets up to go to their job...

DB: We have to get up and go to ours.

SS: That's what we do.

DB: So I can't depend on records anymore. ...

TH: ...  [talking about '80s hitmaker Clarence Burke] He could probably still make a record. ... And it's amazing when that kind of talent has been bastardized, and the ability for them to be heard has been limited by some of the low level productions.

DB: I say the moguls don't want the record companies anymore.

SS: Well, the business is youth-oriented now.  Let's be truthfully honest.  You've got to be 25 and under to really get a record deal today.  The interesting thing is that most of those young people are not songwriters, they are not musicians, okay, so the problem exists that they had to go back to the people that wrote the songs, to the people that really could play the music, to be able to help them to create the products that they use and deal with today.

DB: My youngest son is 13 years old, he said "yeah dad, hey all the rhythms are old-school, but that's what's happening!" Now, I looked at him, I said "What's happening?" "That's what's happening.  What y'all did is what's happening.  I don't care who it is, it's based on something you guys did." So I asked him "Why can't you guys play it?" "We don't know how." That's the word right out of his mouth.

SS: It's true.

DB: So he realized that his father knows how, so now he wants to learn because he realizes he's going to learn how to do it himself now.

SS: Now see, that goes back to what you were talking about earlier in terms of the instruments and music in the schools, okay.  There are young people who would love to be able to learn how to play an instrument, learn the theory and songwriting and production and all that, but it's not available.  And if it is, and you come from a home that's, you know, middle or lower income, your parents can't afford to rent you an instrument or to send you for two hours a week to a class, and this is the unfortunate thing.

TH: And unlike our era [when] our parents invested in us...

DB: Riiight!

TH: ...poor or not.  There was always some broken-down piano or some instrument around.

SS: And people that have money still do.

TH: Exactly.

DB: But there also weren't video games, cable TV, satellite television.  None of these things existed.  There wasn't the Internet.  They didn't have a computer at home, they didn't have a Playstation 2.  All of these things add to what's missing in our life.  Because, let's look at this.  Everything is down.  Network television has a lower viewership than it's ever had in it's history, down 50% from when it first started in the '30s, fifty percent.

TH: Which is why they have these reality-based shows.

DB: Oh, yeah, because every show that's ever been done has been made 14 times! We're tired of watching that stuff.

Part II: Woes of the Music Education System and the Good Effects of Music Education

Dwight Brewster (DB): ... The Salsa that's played today in the '90s is not the Salsa of the '50s, '60s, or early '70s when Fania was really rolling. ... I think technology has something to do with that.  I also think that the fact that some of these kids who grow up in, let's use New York as an example, but they're just talking about trying to refinance the music departments in these schools, and I'm wondering why I don't see a whole lot of kids between the ages of 18 and 22 who can know how to play these instruments.

Tamm E. Hunt (TH): Well they don't play the instruments because they took the instruments not out of the schools, but they locked them up in closets.  There are many high schools and junior high schools and elementary schools in New York City ... who have instruments that are literally locked up in cages and cabinets, in basements or in busy departments of schools, and they have not pulled them out, will not pull them out and dust them off.  The sad mistake is, by denying these children access to those instruments, that they really undermine the development...

DB: Well, I want to say something about that and I'm glad you said that, because it's been proven that music brings on higher education, it brings on a higher sense of mind operation.  It makes your brain work better by being involved in music, so, what does that mean when they lock up the music? I mean, I'm not trying to draw a political conclusion, but it's a question I've got to ask.

TH: Well music itself is a political force and we'll say the misnomer that is prevailing is that there was no money, so they cut arts as a means to empower other educational modalities, which really was a disadvantage to the children because a child who is musically educated generally does well in the sciences and in math...

DB: I rest my case.

TH: ...and has a better focus and operates with a larger integral brain function, full function using both the right and left sides of the brain.

DB: I agree.  Let's talk about it.

TH: So improved brain function is definitely a by-product of a musically educated child.  As well as a child who may find himself labeled as Attention Deficit Disordered.

DB: Yeeeaaaasss.  You give him some music to play, and all of a sudden he can focus.

TH: You give him an instrument, and he's like totally focused.

OMC: "Give him this chart!"

DB: Yeah, "read this chart!", oh de do deeleel bome bome deeleedeed, but he can't concentrate, okay.

Sherry Scott (SS): Not to mention that it usurps that time; when kids are not focused on doing something, that they get busy doing something they shouldn't be doing, because music as well as sports are ways of being able to keep young people focused, busy, and learning in the way of socializing them, being able to teach them a lot of the skills that they need throughout life, you know.

OMC: teamwork

TH: communication and teamwork

SS: Exactly.

DB: When a kid is growing up, and he says to him, "Hey man, you can't play basketball" and he says "Well how many instruments can you play?".  I mean, that's a leveler.  I mean, that brings the playing field right down to the bottom line.  I mean, no matter how big the guy is: "Man, I can beat you up 15 different ways", "Sure, and how many instruments, how many charts can you read, have you wrote last week.  Have you written any new songs?"

SS: Yeah, did you think about a new song?

DB: No, you're just thinking about beating someone up.  "Hmmm, I've got to think about that."

TH: Exactly.  It's definitely a great modality for conflict resolution.


Jazz At Sunset video show
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Orlando A. McAllister
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