The announcement of the jazz museum and jazz performance space earlier today brought up something that continues to puzzle me. I understand New Orleans’ importance in the development of jazz and music in America, but I don’t understand making a musical form that has become the Black classical music that Rahsaan Roland Kirk thought it was, but like classical music it engenders more respect than love. It’s the officially respectable, mature music, but sales continue to show that it’s a commercially marginal form. Centering the marketing of a city on music that people associate with sitting studiously seems guaranteed to produce unspectacular results. Their associations might not line up with the reality of jazz in New Orleans, but you don’t know that when you’re buying plane tickets.
Jan Ramsey argued last year for a marketing plan based on the city’s festivals, which sounds saner and more inclusive toward the New Orleans music community. Festivals evoke fun; jazz evokes lots of paying attention. There’s a reason why Disneyworld doesn’t have much of an offseason.