RdG: For instance, what if the organisation extended its mandate into representing the “new blood” artist until he gets on his feet – as a kind of resource for someone intending to turn professional? Is there a role for #JazzNewBlood to play sort of like an advocacy group? Also, one of the biggest problems facing artists today is the balance between creative and commerce… This is not something covered by the growing number of faculties that “teach Jazz”. Granted it’s often a philosophical argument and entails having a more meditative approach to creativity, but it is never a clear and present aspect of creativity until a musician finds himself struggling with maintaining a balance between the two?
PIP: You questions don’t have an easy answer. Should you guide your creativity by what the market asks? How do you find the balance between being real and true to yourself and being sensitive to what may or may not work commercially? And even if you have that sensitivity, is that a guarantee for success? Can you create something that can appeal to everybody? the short answer appears to be “No”.
My experience says the market, the commerce is completely unpredictable and if you tag along with the what is trending you will be dragged down and will loose yourself in the process. My advice is learning the language and then when you have mastered it, find your own way of expression, one that reflects who you are. Honesty is for me the best path in Music and in Life in general. Audiences react to authenticity even if you show vulnerability. If you are looking for an easy and glamorous life you should not be a Jazz musician and maybe look for another career.
Also there is the availability of promotional funds. The access to grants is very much dependent on the country you live on. The UK is probably one of the best European Countries to study Jazz, for now I suspect everything will change when/if Brexit comes into place. There are plenty of grants available for talented players over 18 and the UK is home to some of the best art Universities in the world. Grants are also available for composers and commissions from the PRS Foundation part of the UK Performing Right Society. UK Arts Council feeds loads of money into individual foundations to support artists and the Musicians’ Union provides legal support, insurance cover, etc.
This generation is a “DIY” one, with unlimited access to Internet and all the Jazz resources you can think of. Talent, regardless of age, when paired with self-driving initiative is highly productive and very often helps one find one’s way without monetary help. My opinion is grants are important sometimes to push an artist forward but should not be something you depend on to develop your art. Self-taught young prodigious jazz players like pianist Joey Alexander or self-sufficient artists like Jacob Collier are perfect examples of my theory. They’ve been widely supported now but they did not wait for recognition to develop their music. Most of the time it takes a lot of faith in your music and doing the work of believing before seeing results to become a successful artist, not everybody is cut out for this.
I think Jazz is a life-skill. Any young musician even a classical one should have experience with improvisation because life is improvisation. Kids playing Jazz inspire other kids to play. But not everybody learning Jazz at the moment will become the future. #JazzNewBlood wants to focus on that small percentage of unique young talent standing out in the crowd and help it find the right path to recognition.
Gratitude to Patricia India Pascal for taking time off from her duties of being a Manager for Carmen Souza and Theo Pascal, from being patron saint to the scores of young musicians at #JazzNewBlood, but most of all from her role of being mum to two prodigiously gifted musicians, Zoe and India, all to answer my eager questions. It’s been a long time coming and I have watched her from afar. Now Patricia India Pascal and her talented, extended brood feels so much closer. Thanks so much, Pat. (I promise not to disturb you again when you’re packing the kids’ lunches. So, until then…Grande abrações!)
Photograph credits: All photographs are by Patricia India Pascal, except when indicated.