Rising Blue: Jazz in the Mainstream.

In the past, I’ve written short posts on the importance of the young contemporary jazz generation. These artists are often seen as part of a very small subculture tucked away in the new york clubs or oversees in Europe and Japan. Once in a while they make appearances at the international jazz festivals or collaborate with hip hop artists. And while the blend of urban, electronic, and traditional improvised stylings makes for an exotic mix that is sometimes recognized, it is just as quickly let go for fear that it will fail in the mainstream. It sounds dramatic but when you realize that sales of jazz recordings make up less than 3 percent of our country’s total record sales, you come to realize how far it has fallen (http://www.theroot.com/views/jazzinomics) . Moreover, the classics such as Miles Davis and Coltrane take up the majority of that 3 percent. Recently, however, within the past several years young experimental jazz artists have stepped out of their own genre and taken away grammy awards in categories almost always awarded to mainstream acts. Esperanza Spalding, for example, won the award for Best New Artist against Justin Beiber. In addition, Robert Glasper’s newest recording Black Radio won best R&B Album. If there is any indication that jazz is returning to popular culture the notoriety of the often mainstream-dominated Grammy Awards would indicate it.