The State of Jazz

I was recently listening to "The Best of Diana Krall" LP. It is an amazing album. But later, I reflected on the fact that she sang almost entirely 'standards,' which means the songs are all at least 50 years old. Then, I thought, why hasn't the Jazz Community produced any more recent songs that have become standards. Then I thought: it is most likely, that the same standards (i.e., basin street blues; willow weep for me, etc.) will be sung for the next 50 years--and I wondered, are we producing any songs today that will become standards. I don't think so. Bu, why not?
Taste level has taken a massive decline since the advent of
both TV and Rock. And it was not all that high before that.
Also, as you ship every job not nailed down to China, dumber the people are the better .
Interesting question!

I'd say times change, including the standards.

Jazz sought new directions and largely wandered away from those standards years ago. Meandered away might be a better term, towards a lot of jamming to demonstrate a groups ability to work together and play off each other.

"Standards" always originate with popular songs. Those still come about these days but in a different form than in past years that produced modern day standards. SOme of that, the ones that are most accessible to the most, will continue to be popular I suspect. Unfotunately, I can't think of any single artist since The Beatles perhaps that produce a large portion of the times standards.

I think the internet and information age changes the game forever, making it increasingly harder for any single act to dominate on a large scale, like say The Beatles last did years ago.
Jazz? Are you serious?
What kind of 50 years or whatever standards?
Jazz is not not not about standards! Standart is Jazz's enemy and not only Jazz. It's for any style of music including classical as well. It's about maximum creativity and Diana Krall is only repeating what's already being done. There are large number of talented jazz musicians that aquired their own style, introduced new scales or combination of scales and Diana, sorry sorry isn't one of them at all. The 'except Diana, Norah or Kenny G' jazz alphabet is HUGE so listing of artists is pointless. The number of recommendation on jazz performances is also HUGE here in the previous posts.
Jazz also has history and herritage approaching span of classical music and has big future as well. Jazz will be forever jazz if it will be different and it is nowdays and it will always be in the future.
Jazz is pleasant and worthy due to the talented performers that acquire improvisational and technical abilities. If you're tired of listening of how Diana Krall's same thing is recorded on different albums and versions, you should really start researching great labels such as ECM, CMP, Verve, Celluloid, CTI, Prestige, Riverside, Roulette etc.
The number of talented jazz musicians is growing every day and you need to keep that State of Jazz by visiting festivals, going to live concerts and buying different jazz records not only Krall or Norah Jones.
Standards (ie song standards) serve a purpose for jazz and other musicians I would think, but few originate in the world of Jazz anymore.

The purpose is to have a well known or "standard" point of reference for different artist's to tackle and do their unique thing with that people can recognize and compare with other interpretations.

A lot of jazz focuses on improvising around a main theme, like that which a well known "standard" tune provides. Improvisation is probably most inherent in Jazz compared to other genres. So standards play a particularly important role in the world of JAzz, but one that other genres share as well, but perhaps usually to a much lesser degree.
What are now known as Jazz Standards, were IMO pop songs of the day. Any good Jazz band can and does "Jazz up" pop songs. One that comes to mind is Mile Davis version of "Time After Time". I suspect there are many more . . .
The targeted audience has a significant role. I played in a band for a while, and we had some members who worked diligently at creating new music and arrangements. During our gigs, the audiences were always very polite with the new stuff. It was the standards, however, that they really liked and wanted more of. Artists who want to sell jazz recordings have to consider the targeted market. A successful musician (in terms of recordings sold) will have good marketing in addition to good musicianship. Yes, even the standards of classical music had a money trail!

I think Mapman is correct in that the volumes of information available via the internet make it very difficult for the audiences to quickly elevate some pieces as standards. I suspect it may take a while before the standards from today's generation separate themselves from the rest. Even then, it may not be a clear separation.

I think some "magic" has to take place for a piece to become a standard. It isn't just about creativity, or the musician, or the tune. It isn't just about the recipient, or the story being told. There isn't a simple formula. There is a connection somewhere though. Perhaps the changing of tastes have created an environment where the connections are very few and far between...
Look up "the great American songbook". The standards arose from a specific set of circumstances that for the most part no longer exists.

I also agree with Pgawan's comments about audience preference.
Personally, I'd look to Steven Sondheim (and a handful of others) for the "standard" songbook of tomorrow. This is the community of songwriters still working the classic elements of songcraft in IMHO interesting ways. However....

Adventurous contemporary artists (whether jazz, pop, or classical) continue to explore new avenues of expression that may or may not prove long-lived. For me, there's often joy in the exploration and I don't worry about how history ultimately views the efforts.
There was a huge swap about 5 years ago in jazz for every "popular" jazz artist to do a standards album. Ms Krall was just one of those artists who did standards all along.

If you want to hear what is really going on in the jazz world then go hang out over at

Body And Soul is historically (about) the most recorded Jazz standard.
I am listening to Tia Fuller's version on her "Angelic Warrior" album.
Dianne Reeves does the vocal on this otherwise fully instrumental album.
Music is the truest art form and Jazz is the truest representation of music to me.
Ptm, As a young child I feel in love with Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust" and always said that it could not be done badly. Then there was Rod Stewart....
"Hot Leggs"??? Is anything Sacred??? A sign of the Apocalypse to me!!!
Onhwy61 is correct. Also look up Tin Pan Alley.

Another reason is that with the birth of bebop, people were throwing out there backs trying to dance. Jazz became a spectator sport.
Czarivey: I do not think standards are the enemy of Jazz. Round Midnight is a great song that become a standard, and is not inimical to jazz, IMHO
Don't even ask how many cover versions of Round Midnight I
have in my collection. I'm guessing a few dozen. And each
has something unique to offer and enjoy.

Vocal jazz and of covers in particular get a lot of airtime
in my system. I often queue up 2, 3 or more different
covers of a song on my music server just to be able to soak
something in from multiple perspectives in rapid sequence,
compare and contrast, etc. The variety of interpretation
extends the utility of the composition further each time,
making the whole greater than the sum of the parts.
well first of all the standards were pop tunes bag then, and actually lots of Jazz artist are still taking good recently composed pop tunes and rearrange and record them.
Brad Mehldau(Radiohead),Carmen Gomes(Bruce Springsteen)and Holy Cole(Tom Waits)comes to my mind immediately.
"Jazz is not dead--it just smells funny."--Frank Zappa
Still still creativity should dominate standards.
Cover of "Man's World" by Residents is evident to it.
Miles is smiling.
The jazz lite vocalists, Krall, Cole, Monheit, Barber, Jones, etc. have absolutely nothing to do with the state of jazz, IMHO. They might have something to do with the state of the popular song, but the state of jazz, really?
Like it or not, Diana Krall is generally categorized as a jazz artist and is one of the most popular and best selling as well I believe, so its hard to argue that she has nothing to do with the state of jazz.

Jazz light is still Jazz. SO what happens there does have something to do with Jazz, even if it may not be every jazz fans cup of tea.

Ella Fitzgerald sang "A Tisket A Tasket" and has sold a lot of records. Pretty light! Does that make her not a jazz artist?

Diana Krall plays piano as well. Ella just sang.

BTW, I consider Ella Fitzgerald to be one of the all time greats and my personal favorite female jazz vocalist, along with Dinah Washington (also pretty light at times) and Billy Holiday (not as light overall perhaps). I'm just pointing these things out to help balance out the argument.
Thank you for taking the time to help balance out the arguement. It must've needed balancing.

Ella and Dinah were certainly popular singers working in the jazz idiom, though I wouldn't say that either defined the state of jazz for their era. That's a pretty pretentious concept, IMHO. As pretentious as thinking that Krall defines the state of jazz for this era.

And no, I would never put Krall or any of the jazz lite singers in the same class as the greats of the former generation that you mentioned, but that's a subjective assessment of their talents and has nothing to do with the state of jazz either.

And as you said, "Diana Krall plays piano as well". Which is not quite the same as saying, "Diana Krall plays piano well."
****Then, I thought, why hasn't the Jazz Community produced any more
recent songs that have become standards. ****are we producing any songs
today that will become standards. I don't think so*****

Just a few jazz standards (or appropriated by jazz players) written after

One Note Samba
Stolen Moments
Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)
Days of Wine and Roses
Blue Bossa
Girl From Ipanema
Once I Loved
Oye Como Va
Watermelon Man
Cantaloupe Island
Song For My Father
Dolphin Dance
The Gentle Rain
Maiden Voyage
Speak No Evil
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
Freedom Jazz Dance
La Fiesta
Crystal Silence
Little Sunflower
Red Clay
Mr Magic
Send In The Clowns
A Time For Love
Pretty Women
Send In The Clowns
What I Did For Love

And the list goes on. Some of the Beatles' songbook are well on their way
as are songs by Stevie Wonder and others. Jazz may be different today
(it's supposed to be), but it is alive and well.
The most popular may also be simply pronounced as POP.
Can't think of many recent pop hits that I would classify as Jazz.

Popularity of Jazz overall has seemed to be on the decline for a number of years now.

I suppose its all relative....
Audiogon forums are the only place where I see Diana Krall etc discussed as the state of the art in jazz.
That's a great list of 'new standards'! It's telling that it's from the 60's forward (50 yrs ago!). I'd also strongly agree about certain Beatles/Wonder tunes being standard-worthy. What's sad is when you start to think of the possible standards written THIS century. I think that would be a pretty short list!

Diane Krall's 1st records seemed to be more in a Jazz vein, the 2 I bought from a used CD store back in the day were; 'All For You' - tribute to the Nat King Cole trio and 'Love Scenes' which featured her, Russell Malone (gtr), and Christian McBride (bs). After that her music became too formulaic for me although I've read that her 'Live In Paris' is pretty good.
FROGMAN: I completely agree with your post. And perhaps I should have been more clear. But I was reflecting upon the fact that the majority of my favorite songs (straight no chaser; ruby my dear; basin street blues, etc.) were composed many decades ago. Further, all of my favorite jazz musicians did most of the recordings in the 60's or early seventies, and I wondered: which of today's musicians are making music that will be listened to fifty years from now…who is my generation's T. Monk or Miles Davis? Perhaps today's music industry is such that today's musicians cannot forge careers like those epic musicians listed above. Maybe there are no longer record executives like Alfred Lion.
I can't believe someone used Ella Fitzgerald and Diana Krall in the same sentence. Sacrilege!! That in itself says volumes about today's Jazz 'audience'. Thank God we have recorded music!

Wait a minute are we talking about

1) the state of teh art as in what is happening in the art, or

2) state of the art as in who/what is setting the highest standards for others to surpass artistically?

Diana Krall is clearly significant in context of 1) in my mind.

2) is far more debatable and I would probably not go there myself, though her records I have heard do seem to have good sound quality and she herself would seem to have the "it" factor needed to be a star these days compared to many.
Contrary to opinion, Rok2id and I can agree. I would not exactly call it sacrilege, but I do agree with the general sentiment. Krall is good and her records do sound (hi-fi) great; but Ella, that's a whole other world. But this thread is really not about Krall, nor the state of jazz since song standards don't define the state of jazz; and certainly not the state-of-the-art in jazz. I think that the original question needs a bit more focus.

The jazz community did not "produce" songs as defined by the OP. The Great American Songbook is made up primarily of songs from the great American Broadway Musicals. Many of these later became instrumental vehicles for jazz players. Jazz players did produce (and still produce) many jazz tunes which have become "standards"; some of which were given lyrics after the fact. IMO, vocalists have never defined the "state of jazz" nor what is state-of-the-art in jazz, the great instrumentalists have. Jazz, being an improvisatory art, has always had instrumentalists as the greatest exponents of the art. Obviously, there have always been great singers, but not all the great singers who sang standards were, nor are, jazz singers. I think that the state of jazz singing is a category unto itself.
"Contrary to opinion, Rok2id and I can agree."

Nice to help bring you two together! :^)
Agree as well. Great American Songbook has nothing to do with jazz.
I love Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holidays' approach to jazz. In terms of what it means to be a jazz singer, they along with Ella, set the standard a long time ago. No one in our life time will be able to measure up to that.

I believe Diana Krall is doing the best she can with what she has. But the times are different, the material is different, and her audience has a different expectation than those of the old masters.

Really there are only a few masters left from the heyday of jazz. I felt that when Miles died in 1991, and more recently when Freddie died. The jazz of today is different. Wynton won't or can't carry the cup. But young cats like Roy Hargrove and Nick Payton are incorporating hip hop into there recordings lately. Hip hop and new music like it is our Standard Tunes today.

I think we have to embrace and believe what Miles was trying to tell us years ago. And that was jazz has gotta change with the times and the living experience of the people to stay viable. Miles remade himself and his music so many times it's scary. Then on top of that, his later stuff, which we all silently rejected, makes sense today. Listen to Water Babies, Live Evil, or Bitches Brew and see if you don't agree.

The problem with the State of Jazz today is everyone is trying to go back, and sounding like someone or something that's already been done. The young cats need to find their own voice. . . . Listen to Roy Hargrove, Antonio Hart and young musician like them, and you will see where jazz is going.

Jazz was about something else back then, that Diana Krall and poor Chris Botti do not understand. And I have heard them both acknowledge as much. I believe they know their limitations, and just accept what's given to them. I believe they love the music, but....
Getting back to the OP - good question. IMO, jazz ended in the late 60s and all any "jazz" artist can do is to replay what has already been created. Before anyone kneejerks to say how ridiculous this is, keep in mind that many forms of music have ended. Homophonic music ended, Baroque ended, Classical ended, Romantic ended, Punk ended... Jazz ended. So what? There are still musicians performing classical, romantic, punk, disco, jazz, etc. If you like the music, listen to it. Sounds simple, but it seems to generate a lot of arguments.
This statement
jazz ended in the late 60s and all any "jazz" artist can do is to replay what has already been created.

Ever hear of modern or fusion Jazz, which still going strong today?
@Don - I have certainly heard of fusion Jazz - Return to Forever, Tony Williams Lifetime, Dreams, Weather Report, etc. The fact that people are still playing something doesn't mean that its time of maximum creativity and artistic merit is not over. I'm sure there are thousands of kid trying to play Bach pieces for solo violin, but that doesn't mean the Baroque period hasn't ended.

But again, getting back to the OP, Diana sings old songs because people pay to hear her sing old songs. If they would pay to see her puke in a bucket, I'm sure she'd do that on stage as well. Bad example - People would pay to see her puke in a bucket. I forgot for a second how sick the world is.
Don_c55, before Roy Hargrove Miles Davis was incorporating HipHop into jazz
I guess it's easier to make a blanket statement about Jazz ending blah, blah, blah.... than to do a little digging for yourself. Some people need to be spoonfed and some like to cook their own meals, just sayin'!;)
The tendancy to declare that any creative period is "over" just mystifies me, although I realize people need to quantify and catalog shallow and innacurate as that might be. I currently work mixing live jazz shows (and other shows)...lucky me! There are BRILLIANT jazz musicians out there playing as good as anybody has, and standards are simply a platform for musicians to play together...Krall has the chops to be taken seriously by the musician community (that's good enough for me), as does the intensly creative and category defying Norah Jones. The current jazz scene is packed with "maximun creativity" and to listen to Jason Moran, Brad Mehldau, Avashai Cohen (either one), Bill Frisell, Bill Charlap, my Uncle Bill (well, maybe not him), Jeremy Pelt, etc. etc., all of whom are writing brilliant stuff that could very well join the legacy of "standards", you can't help but be diggin' needs to merely pull one's head out of their wazoo to see that Jazz is currently doing just fine.
Thanks, Wolf_garcia. Jazz is more than alive and well; unfortunately, likely due to limited and commercial exposure, one needs to be in the big cities to experience with any regularity. My observations, excluding the vocalists referred to by others, is jazz's direction. Many of the younger players are exploring new avenues, which to me often does not sound like jazz...not traditional or standards. Check out some of the new, highly critiqued jazzers...Ambrose Akinmusire; Aaron Parks; Walter Smith III; Gerald Clayton; Vijay Iyer; Christian Scott; Chris Potter; Dayna Stephens...among many others.
Check out the New Times Friday weekend shows. Youtube these guys to see their inclination of the jazz scene. For me, it is taking time to conform to. It has been explained this jazz is more intellectual than emotion.
Current jazz performers are just not promoted by the media in the good ole USA! They would rather debate if "Kind of Blue" is the greatest jazz recording(lol)! Even the acclaimed Ken Burns jazz series had very little to say after Miles or Coltrane. If Krall is to watered down for you check out Eliane Elias or Roberta Gambarini if you desire to hear a true current female jazz vocalist. BTW nice shout out(Wolf Garcia)for the Bill Charlap Trio!
I worked with the Charlap trio a couple of years ago, and more recently did a few shows with Peter Washington in various configurations...brilliant...and Charlap's Bernstein kills me. By the way, Peter Washington enjoys single ended tube amps from Brooklyn (can't remember the name) with Tannoy speakers, a Cary preamp, and a Basis turntable.
+1 on Charlap's Bernstein, one of my absolute favorite piano trio records!
The Charlap Bernstein is great to test your system's bass response...I have to turn my sub down a little for that album, but it sounds so damn good...
His wife, Renee Rosnes, ain't chopped liver either.