Monday, February 13, 2012

Do We Really Want to Play That Tune?

My friend Peter Hum has a blog post decrying the absence of jazz musicians on the televised portion of the Grammy Awards, but really, do we want it to change? I think it's one of those cases where you need to watch what you wish for.

When even music business heavyweights like Bruce Springsteen get pushed into beefing up their regular stage presentations—to say nothing of other performers who are forced into bizarre musical mashups—is there any hope that the same wouldn't happen to Esperanza Spalding or Wynton Marsalis if they were invited to join the televised show? The fact is that since producer Ken Ehrlich began to introduce overblown extravagance and fever-dream duets to the show, the ratings have spiked. Last year's show drew 26.5 million viewers. All those tweets about Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj—even from those who are outraged—only serve to further the Grammy vision of spreading the word.

This year, I skipped the telecast altogether and happily watched the jazz awards being handed out in the live streaming pre-telecast feed. There was no excess, no music cues to cut off the acceptance speeches, and no one insisting that Terri Lyne Carrington had to trade fives with the guitarist from Dierks Bentley.

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