J.J. Johnson: Jazz Will Survive

This week I’ll be linking to some classic Downbeat interviews. Here is a cool 1970 talk with Trombone great J.J. Johnson. From the interview, his take on avant garde musicians coming to save jazz in the 1960s:

“Several years ago,” J.J. explained, “there appeared on the scene a number of musicians who looked upon themselves as the saviors of jazz. These players went around shooting off about ‘way out this’ and ‘avant garde that,’ but in the end they didn’t fool anyone but themselves.

“Once the public had a chance to really tune in, to see what they were all about, it didn’t take them long to tune out. That’s when the live jazz gates and record sales began to fall off. The public had caught on. As it turned out, instead of helping jazz, those so-called saviors nearly killed the music.

“That’s what I’ve always admired about jazz listeners,” J.J. said. “They can’t be fooled. They’re broad-minded enough to want to hear innovation. At the same time, they’re too hip to be taken in by false prophets. Not only do jazz people love their music, but they know it too.”

Click here to read J.J. Johnson: Jazz Will Survive

— Peter Blasevick