Jazz musicians tend to be male and well educated (!?)

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NEA Survey Finds Jazz Musicians Are Largely Male And Well Educated But Many Are Underpaid And Lack Benefits

Respondents Call for Affordable Health Care, Pension Plans, Education Programs and More Philanthropic Support

January 9, 2003 - Ann Puderbaugh 202-682-5570

Washington, D.C. - The National Endowment for the Arts today released survey results suggesting jazz musicians are largely male, middle aged and well educated, although they make less money than the national average for their education level and many lack retirement and health benefits. Changing the Beat: A Study of the Worklife of Jazz Musicians, produced in conjunction with the Research Center for Arts and Culture and the San Francisco Study Center, contains survey results from about 2,700 jazz musicians located in New York, Detroit, San Francisco and New Orleans.

The study found that jazz musicians tend to be male and well educated, with about 45 percent holding a bachelor's degree or higher. The income range most often selected was $20,000-40,000, a considerably lower salary than men with the same education levels in other professions - no women were found in the study. (The National Center for Education Statistics reports the national average income is $52,985 for men with bachelor's degrees and $66,243 for men with higher-level degrees.) Of jazz musicians surveyed who have received grants or fellowships during their careers, 90 percent received $5,000 or less. The survey also addressed other aspects of jazz careers. For instance, the most commonly listed primary instruments were piano and drums. Also, respondents considered talent the most important quality needed for pursuing a career in jazz.

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JAZZ TIMES Homophobia in Jazz 1 By Alexander Merchlinsky

Next jazz and sex article in December 2001 James Gavin

A few years back, I visited a jazz pianist who had made his mark in the ’70s with a reflective series of albums on the ECM label. This was one of my first interviews for a now-finished biography of his former employer, Chet Baker [out in April 2002 from Knopf]. As the recorder ran, my host—known for his fierce intelligence and for the refinement of his playing—kept referring to “that faggot” who had produced a somewhat homoerotic documentary of the once-beautiful trumpeter and singer. After gorging himself, grunting and burping, on Chinese food, he listened with me to a vocal recording that Baker had made in 1955, when his singing suggested a shy little fawn. The pianist spat out in disgust: “He sounds like a girl!”

The jazz world is one of the last cultural frontiers of old-fashioned macho, and in it, homophobia runs rampant. Since interviewing that pianist, I’ve met a multitude of jazz figures who pride themselves on soulfulness and sensitivity, yet are as sensitive as rednecks on the subject of homosexuality—especially its presence in jazz, which is not inconsiderable. Many of the same musicians who would flatten anyone who called them or a friend of theirs a “nigger” haven’t hesitated to tag somebody a “faggot,” if that person threatened their standards of masculinity.

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April 2002 By Bob Blumenthal - More Jazz and Sex

One place where many of the issues will no doubt be revisited is at Women and Jazz, the March 19 panel discussion that begins a week devoted to jazz women at SFJAZZ’s Spring Season 2002. The San Francisco Jazz Organization held a similar colloquy on jazz and race last year, where the most insightful of the many participants proved to be Dr. Angela Davis of U. Cal-Santa Cruz. In a particularly eloquent response to the question of whether or not jazz is “black music,” Davis, a longtime voice of African-American liberation, pointed out the error of always looking at jazz within a black/white dichotomy, while ignoring both gender and the way in which issues of global capitalism are defining our whole notion of haves and have-nots. “What does it mean to talk about ‘black music,’” she asked, “when discussing an artist such as Toshiko Akiyoshi?”

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