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June 25, 2019

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Experts talk on the state of jazz in Las Vegas

Jazz symposium evokes comments about saving jazz as art form

During a symposium earlier this year, a panel of experts spoke on the fate of jazz in Las Vegas. Here are some of their comments:

Vincent Falcone, long-time music director for Frank Sinatra: “I remember Frank Sinatra once saying to me, 'If you only play the notes, it doesn’t mean a thing.’ You’ve got to have soul, dynamics, ups and downs. That’s what the greatest jazz musicians do naturally, instinctively. ... What we need today is the support of those of us who really love jazz. Get out and support the musicians.”

David Loeb, director of jazz studies at UNLV: “This is a jazz town, or at least it was. I believe it still is. There is certainly an undercurrent, an optimism for continuing the art form. That’s what we’re trying to do at the university -- we’re trying to perpetuate the art form of jazz and also to prepare students to go out and make a living. Jazz is our cultural art form, and we need to preserve it.”

John Nasshan, drummer and host of a jazz program on KUNV 91.5-FM: “Jazz is the only true American art form and we don’t treat it well. Once you get involved in jazz at any level, you don’t lose the love for it. We need to support the art form, but we’re not doing it. ”

Frank Leone, president of the Las Vegas Jazz Society and Musicians Union Local 369: “We grew up with songs that easily became accessible to jazz, but not today. It’s all hip-hop, and Clear Channel owns every radio station in America and it’s not going to give you a choice. Today kids aren’t being exposed to jazz till they get to junior high school, and all of a sudden have a music appreciation class in jazz and classical. It’s too late – way too late. We have to get them early.”

Dana Crawford, smooth jazz deejay with KOAS 105.7-FM: “If we don’t build a bridge between what jazz was and what jazz needs to become it’s going to die here. We need to find a way for the art form to evolve and become something people in their 20s and 30s will want to come out and see. If we don’t educate the young about what was and also expose them to what is, jazz is going to die. It has nowhere to go.”

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