Today we’d like to introduce you to David Stoddard.
Hi David, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
The Austin Traditional Jazz Society seeks to preserve, promote and present traditional jazz to Austin and other Central Texas communities. It has been in operation since 1977. Traditional jazz goes back to the beginnings of jazz in the 1890s. It has a number of styles, the most recognizable label being New Orleans Jazz.
The Society typically offers 8-9 Sunday afternoon events per season (September to June). It supports traditional jazz players by paying concert pay that is significantly better than most clubs offering music. Many of the bands are drawn from the area. However, over the years the Society has offered concerts by nationally and internationally renowned traditional jazz performers and bands.
The Society seeks to promote traditional jazz where possible. During the pandemic, it contributed to Project Safety Net, a financial aid project for full-time Austin jazz musicians. It sponsored a clinic for aspiring traditional jazz players at St. Edwards University. Each year the Annual Jam Session is a free event, giving non-members a chance to sample the music without charge. Young people through high school get free admission to regular concerts. The Society offered free presentations on traditional jazz for several years. The ATJS website is loaded with information on traditional jazz, including links to Internet videos by area traditional jazz performers.
Jazz is one of the most important American contributions to world culture. It is a part of who we are. In addition, the best of jazz is great music, and learning either to play or listen to it is very enriching. One of the Society’s missions is to introduce as many people as possible to the music and get them involved for the long haul. As a rule, traditional jazz is very accessible to most new listeners (in the sense that it is easy to listen to), and is often used to highlight non-music events such as conventions and baseball games.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Traditional jazz is not mainstream music and has not been for a long time. One is hard-pressed to find it on radio or television. The Society adds new members one or two at a time, seeking to gain more new members than it loses to attrition of various kinds. Competition is keen in the Austin music scene. There are many types of music being played, and traditional jazz has to work hard for its share of the audience.
Many people think of “jazz” as some all-encompassing umbrella. In fact, there is a great divide between traditional jazz forms, including swing, and modern jazz forms which began with bebop in the 1940s and have evolved into a number of styles. High school and college jazz ensembles mostly teach and perform modern jazz styles.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has presented ATJS with the greatest crisis in its long tenure. It went two full years between music events, having re-started just recently with the 19th Annual Jam Session. In the summer of 2020 its venue of 13 years closed, forcing the Society to move to an event center. The Jam Session at the new venue was a success, but it is not certain at this time how many members have been lost.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
501(c)(3) non-profit corporation
- $25 for 2022 single membership
- $45 for 2022 couple membership
- $15 for 2022 student membership
- $10 single admission at a concert
- $5 single college admission at a concert
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.atjs.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/austintraditionaljazz/
- Facebook: @atjs.org