Bob's August "Just Jazz Artist of the Month"
vibraphonist Lionel Hampton
The Just Jazz 10 Best Jazz CDs of 2014
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The Bob Bernotas Jazz Disc Jockey Entrance Exam
So you wanna be a jazz DJ, huh? Well, not so fast, Symphony Sid. First you have to take the exam.
A Statement from Bob Bernotas
I write about jazz because I like jazz. Just as much, I write about jazz musicians because I like jazz musicians. Without question, the most intelligent, witty, articulate, resourceful, sensitive, honest, and generous people I know are jazz musicians. Not all of them, of course; but within the jazz community I have found these qualities to exist in overabundance, and the proof is in my work. Meanwhile, these special men and women must live the lives of artists in a world that overvalues all the wrong things and undervalues all the best ones. But through it all, they persevere, producing - against all odds - beauty, truth, and joy. I'm honored that so many of these remarkable people have shared their ideas, experiences, and insights with me.
In Arthur Miller's masterpiece, Death of a Salesman, the title character's long-suffering wife reflects on the life of her broken, defeated spouse. "Willy Loman never made a lot of money," she laments. "His name was never in the paper." These words also describe, all too well, the life of the typical jazz musician. It's an old, but apt, joke: "How do you make a million dollars playing jazz? Start with two million." And for the huge majority of jazz players, the only newspaper article that will be published about them - aside from a perfunctory two hundred-word review, churned out by some tin-eared dilettante on a tight deadline - is the one that the subject never gets to read, the one always written in past tense.
But the artists I have met have lived and, in most cases, are still living valuable lives, lives that truly do produce beauty, truth, and joy. (And, unlike Willy Loman, they are not broken and defeated, but robust and triumphant.) Invoking the salesman's wife once again, "Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person." That's why I write about jazz and jazz musicians: to pay attention to lives well lived, lives well worth looking at, learning from, and celebrating.