Reconnecting audiences to jazz

It can be tough to sell modern audiences on jazz.

Too many people think of the variety of styles grouped under the genre either as music of the past, or as a complicated art form played by musicians for musicians. Even some musicians say the music deserves a new name.

A common perception is that listening to jazz is “like drinking red wine,” said Steve Heckler, executive director of the Twin Cities Jazz Festival.

“It’s become very elitist,” or so that view holds, Heckler said. “It lost its fun and became distanced from the people.”

To counter that perception, this year’s festival has booked a strong variety of shows, from nationally known performers like trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis and Francisco Mela.

Battling the perception of jazz as an outdated or pretentious genre is tough. But Heckler is confident that more people will gravitate to jazz if they have a chance to see and hear the music played from the stage by bands that have modern audiences in mind.

With that in mind, the festival also has booked a number of local and regional favorites like the Zacc Harris Group and Koplant No, a group that fuses jazz improvisation with electronic music, rock and hip-hop.

“Our mission is really to bring it,” Heckler said.

For a longer take on the Twin Cities Jazz Festival’s mission, look here.

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