I’m starting to see Pittsburgh music as a boys club. Not that this is uncommon anywhere else, but it’s hit me recently.
I am (unfortunately) a member of the same male demographic, but the distinct lack of female instrumentalists lends to age-old boys club antics on the bandstand. There’s not very much racial diversity either; it stifles the repertoire and perspective.
Pittsburgh, for all of its history, drowns in disillusionment. The idea that a rich cultural background in America’s art form cements our current standing as a city that compliments or adds to the music as a whole is absurd. Our great composers have been long gone for decades.
Certain folks act as champions of the new and old, but I’m frustrated when I see more of the same. It can work, potentially, and I’m hopeful; I live for this idealized, picture book dichotomy of tradition and intuition.
For most of the jazz artists in town, however, doing what they’ve known for years is totally ok because it keeps food on the table. They’re not wrong for doing this. It makes me sad, personally, but that’s one hard truth about creating a life in this field.
Pittsburgh WAS a city of innovators in music. It was an incubator for some of the most stylish young talents in history. Because of this, we should be working daily to:
- Increase the pool of young musicians interested in MUSIC as an art form. Jazz education shouldn’t be forced down anyone’s throat; it’ll alienate the students who would soon be interested.
- Form a dialogue where local working artists have the ability to voice concerns not over “the state of the scene” but of what happens NOW and IN THE FUTURE. Stop focusing on mistakes/accolades of the past.
- For the good of all of us, propel the women who work this field! There’s so much more they have to hoop through just to get into the same positions that lesser men have held on to for too long. I’m tired of hearing the frustration.
Anyway, that’s my rant this morning. Fight me, Pittsburgh. I tend to soften my blows irl because I’m afraid of the conflict, but feel free to chat with me about this and make me think differently.