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- Posted on Nov 18th 2010 4:30PM by Tad Hendrickson
Schatz (pictured, right) heads up the nonprofit Search & Restore group, whose objective is to bring jazz and creative music to 21st-century audiences using its website, social networking like Facebook, digital technologies like Kickstarter and Twitter (@nycjazz), as well as traditional ideas such as presenting live performances. For those outside the New York City area, S&R has started a Kickstarter fund drive to raise money for videotaping four shows a week in the jazz capital throughout 2011, documenting some of the great music out there and putting it on the Web. What follows is an interview conducted by e-mail exchange between Schatz and myself.
Tad Hendrickson: There's a distinct agenda to Search & Restore -- mainly that jazz is still a creative endeavor for some of its musicians. Is this a fair assessment?
Adam Schatz: That's definitely a part of it. The bottom line is that I want to build and unite the community of new jazz fans around the world. That can happen in so many ways on so many levels, through concert organization, content generation and Web development. But it all started as a way for me to bring this music that I loved so much to my friends and other folks who may not have known it was happening. And I think the fact that the music is such a creative endeavor for the musicians, coming at it with such a blank slate and influences not just from the music they love but also from their own personalities and humor, is not apparent to the general public. The simple fact is that to most people around the world, jazz is represented as a historical music that creates an older connotation that doesn't inspire the curiosity to find the new music being made. I want to change that public perception.
Why do you feel the need to make this point?
Because I truly believe this music is too wonderful to go so unheard. Improvisation drives this community, and it creates for one of the most engaging and unique live experiences – one where an audience can be present for something entirely unique and something entirely human. As pop music moves further into the realm of the Auto-Tune and backing track performances, there is something that remains so staggeringly human and emotionally stimulating about the new jazz music being made right now. And I know that there are fans of this music already across the globe, but there's such a disconnect that it has been so difficult for a sustainable environment for this music to present itself. So that's the task I've taken on.
What attracts you to younger audiences?
Because I'm young , and I know the potential is there. Now more than ever, large sects alternative youth culture have been supporting music on a commercial scale that is not by any means ordinary but is still accessible. What makes something accessible to young ears is universal qualities, like rhythm and melody, and I believe those qualities that have inspired masses of young audiences to love and support strange rock 'n' roll heroes like the Dirty Projectors, Deerhoof and Animal Collective are just as strong within many of the champions in the new jazz scene. Once young ears can be given a method to discover these artists, I think it's only a matter of time before a larger support of the music will follow.
What are you working on as a musician?
A lot. I'm working on a bunch of albums at the moment: my progressive pop band Landlady, in which I play Farfisa [organ] and sing; an Afrobeat band, Zongo Junction, which I play sax in and am co-producing the record. My zombie jazz band, Father Figures, is going into the studio next month -- this is a collective of my best friends. I'm also going into the studio next week with a rock band I used to play in a lot and am producing the record for a band called the Teenage Prayers. My improvised dance band Blast Off!! is also slowly working on recordings, and all of these bands are playing a lot of shows. I'm also in the early stages of a bigger project: recording a song featuring everyone I know on the recording. More on this as it develops, but it's a six-minute pop song about aliens cutting up Planet Earth, and I think there will be at least 2,000 people involved when it's all said and done. I also run a vinyl record label called Museum People with a fellow in Japan, and our next release is the Relatives, an amazing folk band whose album I recorded and produced in my basement over the past year; I played some horn, Casios and organ on that, as well.
You also play and run a website, as well as present shows. Isn't this spreading you too thin?
Somehow it's not. I don't sleep too much and I don't really take vacations, but I just see out every one of my ideas and projects to the best of my ability, and I don't think the quality of any of them has been compromised. Soon Search & Restore will need a few more full-time employees so that all the work doesn't fall on my shoulders, but that's just the next logical step for making it a fully functioning nonprofit organization. When we reach that stage, I firmly believe that I could even go on tour for a few months and oversee the activities as I move, with people I trust handling the day-to-day business of things.
Who is involved in Search & Restore currently?
It's myself, a small board of directors, some generous consultants and a team of very dedicated volunteers who love the music and really support everything we do. But I'd like to have it function higher as an organization, with more part-time employees taking on project development so we can begin to reach more people.
And now there's this video project with a Kickstarter fund drive. What's the goal of the drive and what's the goal of the video documentation?
This is an idea I've had for over a year now. I believe what is making jazz such a hard music to sustain is that there is no point of discovery for the music online. Like it or not, it's how everyone is discovering music now, and though there is more and more coverage of jazz online now than ever, it's still only relevant to people who already are involved in the community and know what the writers are talking about. I'm not putting that down in any way; I think it's all great. But the way these artists thrive is in the live setting, and I believe that by making a massive quantity of live video of everyone who's instrumental in the new jazz scene available online for global consumption, the audience for this music will grow in serious ways.
The project itself is simple. We're going to film four concerts a week for the next year and house the footage in artist pages for the 200-plus artists we'll have captured, making it available for anyone to discover on SearchAndRestore.com. We'll also provide a login feature for up-and-coming artists to make their own artist pages. It will be a huge promotional tool for artists and an incredible gateway for new and old fans alike.
We're doing it through Kickstarter and have set such a giant $75,000 goal because I believe this project is only worth doing if it is done on a huge scale. By having the funds to film, edit and distribute over 200 shows, we'll be able to come very close to accurately representing the community as it lives and breathes in New York. Any less would not have the same effect. People will always want more, but the only way we can have a real impact is to do it big and do it right. Every dollar has been accounted for in the budget to pay for cameras, editing stations, Web development, data entry and storage.
We only receive the money if we reach our goal by Dec. 6, and I believe we can do it. If 2,000 people donate $25, we're there, so it's just about our cause reaching enough people, because this can truly benefit everyone -- the artists, the fans, the venues, everyone. It's the hardest I've worked on anything ever, and probably the most stressed out I've ever been, but I know we can do it.
What else are you working on?
There's always more. I've got a lot of plans for the future of Search & Restore, bringing versions of the calendar listings to other cities is the next step. Places like Seattle, Philadelphia and Chicago all have thriving scenes that could benefit from some organization of what's going down every night. I also want to begin organizing tours for these artists to bring the music to cities that have no way of accessing it otherwise. My band Father Figures toured the country this July, to California and back, and it was incredible to realize that cities like Austin and Portland[, Ore.], which have such strong music scenes and young audiences supporting them, have virtually no communities around new jazz and improvised music. And the audience reaction to our music seemed to justify that they could handle a lot more.
Here's what our friends at All About Jazz have been working on:
Josh Roseman: Reimagining the Constellations
Jay Phelps: Swing Is the New Avant-Garde
'Omega Is the Alpha,' Vic Juris
'Jay Walkin',' Jay Phelps
'Dirty & Beautiful Volume One,' Gary Husband
'Greasy Feets Music,' Josh Roseman (from 'New Constellations: Live in Vienna')
'Waltz for Moe,' Paquito D'Rivera (from 'Panamericana Suite')
'Live 2010 7th Annual Concert Tour: The Works of Horace Silver,' SFJazz Collective
Jazz Forward Coalition: "Business of Jazz" Launches