Friday, July 26, 2013

Only a Few Days Left: Help The Jazz Session's Comeback

My three sons, Charlie, Jamie and John, giving their support for The Jazz Session with Jason Crane.
I am writing, again, about Jason Crane. Try to understand.

Crane's work, namely the 400+ episodes he's produced for his jazz-interview podcast, The Jazz Session, has changed the way I think about music. Because of the hundreds of hours I have happily consumed, usually in the car or cleaning the kitchen, and the corresponding non-Jason-Crane rabbit holes they have led me down, I now feel like I can, for myself, finally define jazz. The show has reintroduced me to the players on the scene right now, a community of artists whose sounds, compositions, and approaches vary widely and wildly.

As I wrote in my last post, Crane has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money, and has very nearly met his goal with still a few days left. Kickstarter is what's called a crowdfunding website. It provides a way for artists, entrepreneurs and others to get their projects funded without necessarily relying on bank loans, record deals and wealthy patrons or investors. Gifts are rewarded with premiums, which in Crane's case include mp3s, CDs, his poetry book, a baseball signed by a dozen jazz musicians (his upcoming guests) and more.

Get Stuff: Click here to support The Return of The Jazz Session Kickstarter Campaign.

Not too long after I started to listen to his show, Crane moved to Auburn, Alabama, where I live. The Jazz Session ended, and we became friends. As to being friends, I feel like I was already halfway there having listened to his show. Despite wanting to objectively document this moment in the history of an art form he loves, he paints himself into the picture, and that's ok. He is a skilled broadcaster who is funny, intelligent, and thoughtful while allowing his interviewer persona to be, like he is in real life, impassioned, complex, and opinionated. I think because he reveals so much of himself, he is able to draw the same kinds of things out of his guests.

Money changes hands only if the project's goal is met. But even after the $6,000 goal has been committed, donors can keep giving until July 31, 2013, and still get the premiums. At this point, it looks good for the $6,000, but more money will very likely mean more episodes. As it stands, the current goal will only get me–I mean us–12 more shows to listen to. Sorry. Us. Do it for the children.

For the Children: Click here to support The Return of The Jazz Session Kickstarter Campaign.

For locals, you should know that Crane is more than a rabble-rousing used-bookstore clerk, itinerant poet and former college temp worker. Locally we've seen him in the Auburn Plainsman (here and here) and heard him on Troy University Public Radio and on his own arts show on WEGL. But he has been featured in The Village Voice's Sound of the City blog, the online magazine Nashville Scene, National Public Radio's A Blog Supreme, and the LA Times' Culture Monster blog, among others. He is a minor arts celebrity with a worldwide following and for me is as big as they come. I've joked with Crane about it being like hanging out with Hollywood actor Tony Shalhoub.

If you need more to go on than my opinion, you might read a post I wrote in 2012 when Crane was resigning himself to ending the show for financial reasons. It mentions the author of The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Barry Kernfeld, a guest on the show, and a comment he makes about its historical significance. If you need even more, and you do, then listen to some of the highlight reels and musician endorsements (including one from 3-time guest Sonny Rollins) on Crane's YouTube channel. If anything peaks your interest, go to the show's website and listen to an interview.

Make History: Click here to support The Return of The Jazz Session Kickstarter Campaign.

But the campaign ends July 31, 2013, so you don't have much time, at least not to get the Kickstarter premiums. If you're reading this in the future, pull the jet pack over and check out the show anyway. My guess is that the interviews will be online, as free as they always have been, and my hope is that the show is going on. Even if it's on break, Jason or his great-great granddaughter or some university, foundation, or conquering-alien archaeological unit will be paying for server space. Help a jazz brother out.

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