As a young jazz commentator, I felt the need to reply to Chris Timmons’ assertion that there are no young voices in jazz. The crisis is not so much that there are not young voices in jazz commentary and criticism, but rather that our voices are not being heard through traditional media. Because of the changes in the way press and publication works in the 21st century it is far more difficult for our voices to be heard through ‘traditional’ means. We find it harder to get work in traditional publications because those publications either have their full complement of staff writers who are well established, or they are moving towards ‘reader provided’ content for no cost. Other publications (such as one I regularly write for) might need to rely on the goodwill of willing and enthusiastic volunteers to survive. It is also becoming more difficult to find jobs to support us while we research a biography or history (in fact it is getting harder to find a jazz related job period!), thus it takes longer to get to the point of sending something to a publisher (and then there are the issues of getting it published…).
Young voices are writing and talking about jazz, but we are not communicating as much as our forefathers (and mothers) did through traditional media. Today you are more likely to find us airing our opinions on our own blogs and other social media accounts — or we are writing (voluntarily, I might add- very little of this work is paid) for other blogs and sites. We might also be using podcasts or YouTube to reach our audiences. There are a number of ways for young writers to reach an audience, and while I agree that it is much harder to find young voices amongst the thousands of jazz sites and blogs out there, it is not impossible if the reader is willing to try.
–writer Aleisha Ward blogs at New Zealand Jazz