House of Representatives Affirms Miles Davis’ “Kind Of Blue” as National Treasure. Does This Ring Hollow To Anyone Else?

by Jason on December 16, 2009 · 11 comments

in Thoughts

Kind of Blue

Kind of Blue

Yesterday, by a vote of 409-0, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 894, a bill “Honoring the 50th anniversary of the recording of the album “Kind of Blue” and reaffirming jazz as a national treasure.”

The bill goes on to affirm that the House:

(1) honors the 50th anniversary of `Kind of Blue’ and recognizes the unique contribution the album has made to American jazz;
(2) directs the Clerk of the House of Representatives to transmit enrolled copies of this resolution to Columbia Records;
(3) encourages the United States Government to take all appropriate steps to preserve and advance the art form of jazz music;
(4) recommits itself to ensuring that musical artists such as Miles Davis and his Sextet receive fair protection under the copyright laws of the United States for their contributions to culture in the United States; and
(5) reaffirms the status of jazz as a national treasure.

Great, right?

On the surface, I’m all for this. but it seems that that’s all this is – surface. This comes at a time when Congress is slashing and burning funding for the arts and John McCain is publicly ridiculing jazz on the floor of Senate (go to the 119th minute).

To his credit, Barack Obama has given jazz some love recently. He and Michelle have hosted jazz nights at the White House featuring Wynton Marsalis, Paquito D’Rivera and Esperanza Spaulding. And at a recent dinner honoring Dave Brubeck at the Kennedy Center he said “You can’t understand America without understanding jazz.” See the whole speech here.

But if the government really wants to help the arts, how about giving money to local arts organizations? How about spreading the money more evenly over more organizations? How about sponsoring tours here in the US, instead of only sending our “Jazz Ambassadors” overseas? How about a national jazz festival on the mall in Washington DC? Those are just a few ideas off the top of my head. I’m sure we can all come up with many more ways the government could help out, if they truly want to.

Does this bill strike anyone else as hollow platitudes or am I just being cranky this morning?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Twitter: dave6834
December 16, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Hollow platitudes all the way. It’s what the government does best.

roland December 16, 2009 at 3:22 pm

of course there’s much more which can be done, and it doesn’t translate into much for the average musician, but any recognition jazz gets like this is better than none, doubt if even this would have happened under Bush, and be thankful Barack is in, giving some recognition to the music, like putting Esperanza on the world stage like he did

Dave Dolengewicz December 16, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Everybody lookout if Nic Cage hears about this…

Kris Tiner December 16, 2009 at 4:00 pm

How about actually helping some LIVING jazz musicians by passing a public option?

Twitter: arodjazz
December 16, 2009 at 5:34 pm

100% agreed. Reads like a lobbyist for Columbia wrote the resolution …

Twitter: 1WorkinMusician
December 16, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Amen, Kris!

And I’m usually the first to say that any press is good press. While I agree that this is true (a friend of mine told me that 50% of the Google traffic for “Kind of Blue” for the week has come in the last 24 hours), it still strikes me as very two-faced and self-serving that they are saying they will do everything the can to promote jazz while simultaneously bitching about and cutting the funding thereof. As Alex mentioned, it’s more of a press-release for Columbia Records than anything else.

Ira December 16, 2009 at 8:19 pm

Yup, they are a bunch of hypocrites all right.
Slash funding for the arts, bail out banks and brokerage firms to the tune of billions, refuse to enact meaningful health care reform because it might negatively impact the earnings of insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies, but declare “Kind of Blue” a national treasure. Can we declare them a national disgrace?

Rudy December 16, 2009 at 10:07 pm

[-figuratively- Miles from Heaven]: Awright…thanks for the recognition … Now put your money where your mouth is!

Mack Grout December 17, 2009 at 12:24 pm

I’m with you JP, with you all the way!

D'Jalma Garnier December 19, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Thank You Jason Parker,
It was interesting to see your influence and your site cited and this essay link at NPR. Action speaks louder than words; Kris Tiner’s mention of the Public Option if only for the innumerable American artists that will probably see an early grave working below the poverty line, promoting our greatest treasure with no health insurance. The worst scenario is above that line just enough to not qualify for Medicaid or no proof of income. There are people as old as Senator McCain working: playing, teaching, writing, and traveling. I wonder how he’d cut it, he kinda looks like a trumpet player – don’t let him contract the gig though.

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