The "new normal" has turned our world upside down.
Before the arrival of the coronavirus (COVID-19), we frequented our favorite music stores, cafes, festivals and jazz clubs to hear the music that we love so much. On top of the music, we connected with friends both old and new while listening to musicians we know — or musicians who we were excited to discover. And the memories. We’ll always have the memories of those times that lifted our spirits as we nodded to cool tunes and spent time with people we care about.
The last few months either drove us crazy, drove us to get creative or helped us reconnect to the things that brought us so much joy in the past, including our favorite jazz artists and songs. But imagine how the pandemic has impacted the jazz community.
April was Jazz Appreciation Month. This year’s celebration was designed to spotlight women in jazz since the achievements of female artists are often overlooked or minimized. Jazz Appreciation Month is a time for people of all ages to share their love of the genre. But this year’s celebration was bittersweet.
In the last few months, we’ve lost a number of wonderful jazz artists to COVID-19. Among them were:
We also lost artists like Richie Cole, Tony Allen and Ryo Kawasaki to non-COVID-19 causes.
In the event space, a number of cherished festivals and concerts were canceled. And many jazz musicians are trying to recover from all of this. Thing is, this is not the first time that the jazz world has been affected by a pandemic. The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic hit the jazz community hard, yet managed to miss a teenage Louis Armstrong.
While the coronavirus pandemic brought a great amount of loss, it’s hard to be pessimistic about jazz’s future given how the genre has recovered from adversity in the past. Jazz survived one pandemic and most definitely will make it through another.
The jazz world has lost some bright lights, but they will shine on through the passion, innovation and dedication of the next generation of jazz musicians. And jazz fans everywhere are sure to never let the legacies of those we lost die.
So, if you feel a little bit lost right now and you’re not sure if the music you love will stand the test of a major pandemic, take comfort in knowing that it has before — and it will again. In the meantime, keep listening to your favorites and keep the catalogs of the jazz legends we lost front and center by exploring every melody they left behind.