So, over to Ruby [Braff]: In 1965, on tour in Britain, he had this to say about the saleability of jazz.
"You see, people all use phrases. One is: "You can't give the public good music, it won't sell." They learn it from each other. "Nobody likes good music." The truth is that nearly everybody likes good music except them.
Take the George Wein band I'm doing the festivals with, we've played all over the place, to audiences of all ages, and we've never come up against these people who don't like it. Usually, the only complaint is: "Why can't we hear more normal music like this?"
"In my opinion it's your A&R men, disc jockeys, critics and your characters who don't like lovely music and push something different. These people keep repeating that good music won't sell, but you have Tony Bennett, for instance, who does nothing but beautiful songs and old standards with good arrangements behind them, and sells millions. So what have the record companies to say to that?"
"I've never heard one pop group that plays great. People who say they do are reading into them things that don't exist. It is not for people who've had more experience of listening, and whose tastes are cultivated, to lower themselves to the tastes of foolish children. It's for children to come up to the tastes of mature people. Very often the parents, who've played such a weak and incompetent part in bringing up their children, think the only way they can make up for this incompetence is to sink to the child's level in matters like music, dancing and the arts. Really they are seeking child acceptance, see? It is their way of buying off their children for not being able to teach them about life and cultivate their minds properly."
And what, I wondered, about the musicians who seem to favour modern pop.
"Most of the musicians I've heard speak well of this music are those who have to make a living, or part of their living, recording in the studio with this kind of thing. And many of them feel so miserable and guilty about having to do it that they talk themselves into thinking it's good music. This is the danger of the people of musicality becoming involved with this rubbish. They begin to believe in it. Just as this happens to fine musicians, so it can happen to a whole public. Their taste becomes corroded. It is very sad, because it makes me think that a lot of these people never really loved and appreciated the things they paid lip service to for many years--the recognized great works.
"Now there's nothing wrong, so far as I'm concerned, with record companies producing this rubbish for people who don't know, or with musicians recording the same in order to earn their livelihood. But they mustn't get to believe in it.
“The important thing is this: those who've lost their way had better renew their faith in things they once knew were wonderful and valid before they end up with the same immaturity and indecision and sickness as so many young people are featuring in their philosophy.”
"In any case, the idea of trying to stay young by acting young and dressing up young is wrong. One way to stay young is by becoming wise and being constantly busy studying, learning and accomplishing something. Love for something that you do well, that helps to keep you young."
Quoted from page 88 "TALKING JAZZ" by Max Jones © Max Jones 1987