J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

9-11: the Human Cost for the Jazz Community


The human suffering caused by murderous Islamic Fascist terrorists on September 11th can be overwhelming to contemplate. Yet some in the creative community, such as Matthew Shipp in Jazz Times' 9-11 commemorative issue, discount the tremendous human tragedy of 9-11. Lest we forget, 9-11 took a tremendous toll on the jazz community.

Most important to remember, the jazz community lost one of its own in that cowardly act of terror. Betty Farmer, a jazz vocalist working for Cantor Fitzgerald was killed that day. She started her singing career in the cradle of jazz, her hometown New Orleans, and performed with Duke Ellington. According to the New York Times’Portrait of Grief,” she was in the process of re-launching her performing career.

The jazz community also suffered severe economic losses as a result of 9-11. Wendy Oxenhorn of the Jazz Foundation often speaks eloquently about the number of gigs that either dried up completely, or went from paid gigs to pass-the-hat gigs. People were much less likely to go out in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, which took a severe economic toll on jazz venues. Charles Lloyd played a free stand at the Blue Note in an effort to encourage patrons to return to the clubs. Make no mistake, creative artists—particularly jazz musicians, were attacked on September 11, 2001. Therefore, we all have a stake in fighting Islamic extremists terrorists, wherever they may hide.