How A Korean Jazz Festival Found A Huge Young Audience

January 13, 2016 - Picnic Time

Danish Afrobeat-inspired rope The KutiMangoes poise for photos with a throng during a Jarasum International Jazz Festival.i

Danish Afrobeat-inspired rope The KutiMangoes poise for photos with a throng during a Jarasum International Jazz Festival.

Roh Seung-hwan/Courtesy of Jarasum International Jazz Festival


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Roh Seung-hwan/Courtesy of Jarasum International Jazz Festival

Danish Afrobeat-inspired rope The KutiMangoes poise for photos with a throng during a Jarasum International Jazz Festival.

Danish Afrobeat-inspired rope The KutiMangoes poise for photos with a throng during a Jarasum International Jazz Festival.

Roh Seung-hwan/Courtesy of Jarasum International Jazz Festival

It was like finding a together reality.

After completing a sponsored outing to South Korea for song professionals in October, we stayed in a country, distinguished out on my own. we grabbed a sight to a Jarasum International Jazz Festival, a integrate hours from Seoul, and arrived in a center of a set by a ubiquitous energy pairing of Paolo Fresu, Omar Sosa and Trilok Gurtu.

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I did a double take — and afterwards a triple take. A outrageous assembly of mostly twentysomethings was smiling and dancing, display vast adore for a music. we looked around for a trustworthy explanation. Was a K-pop video being projected on a shade nearby a jazz trio? No, a festival proffer explained — a crowd’s unrestrained was all for a improvising trumpeter, pianist and percussionist onstage. Younger people, he said: They like jazz.

The Jarasum International Jazz Festival is set on stream islands amid mountains.

The Jarasum International Jazz Festival is set on stream islands amid mountains.

Courtesy of Jarasum International Jazz Festival


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Courtesy of Jarasum International Jazz Festival

“Stepping onstage during a Jarasum Jazz Festival is like stumbling into an swap star where jazz is unexpected young, hip, voluptuous and cool,” says Joshua Redman, a distinguished American saxophonist.

After Redman achieved during Jarasum a few years ago, festival executive In Jae-jin remembers a saxophonist observant he wanted to take half of a assembly home to a U.S. In has gotten used to conference that arrange of thing.

“Actually, so many ubiquitous guest are so astounded to see a immature assembly in Korea, generally for this festival,” In says. “Wherever we attend jazz festivals, routinely a assembly is over 50 or even 60, yet during my festival they are in their 20s and 30s.”

Now in a 12th year, a Jarasum Jazz Festival frequently draws between 200,000 and 250,000 people over 3 days. Jarasum estimates that 88 percent of a 2015 assembly was underneath age 40. To put this demographic in perspective, a numbers are fundamentally flipped during a Newport Jazz Festival, where a 2012 consult found that 82 percent of a assembly is over age 45.

The art of jazz is flourishing, we know, with immature musicians building a song all over a world. But a business of jazz sees many hand-wringing over a music’s aging audience, a sea of gray hair. And nowhere in a universe have we seen a jazz assembly as immature as during Jarasum: The throng felt anachronistic, like a 21st-century rebirth of jazz’s swing-era popularity.

A immature jazz assembly is such a rarity, in fact, that it’s turn a kind of holy grail for presenters. So how does Jarasum do it?

Zen And The Art of Festival Presentation

Koreans are discerning to indicate out that song festivals in ubiquitous are smart among immature people. Music festivals are positively renouned among immature people in a U.S., too — yet jazz festivals, not so much.

The required believe of flourishing a jazz-festival assembly is to enhance programming, that mostly means adding pop-friendly headliners. True, Jarasum is not accurately diligent with regard over jazz authenticity. On mixed stages, a festival presents a mix of jazz and universe music, internal and ubiquitous acts, crowd-pleasing and crowd-challenging sounds. Jazz cognoscenti don’t seem disturbed that Spyro Gyra is as expected to title a festival as a Heath Brothers. Korean jazz talent seems sincerely represented in a program, and there’s also a renouned annual foe for rising Korean musicians. Jarasum’s many distinguished programming underline is a globalism: Appearing this year were a Brazilian guitarist Badi Assad, Cameroon-born bassist Richard Bona and Russian saxophonist Igor Butman, along with many tip musicians from Germany, 2015’s “focus country.”

Festival executive In Jae-jin addresses a crowd.

Festival executive In Jae-jin addresses a crowd.

Nah Seung-yull/Courtesy of Jarasum International Jazz Festival


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Nah Seung-yull/Courtesy of Jarasum International Jazz Festival

The big-tent proceed isn’t scarcely a whole story, though. In fact, a festival literally depends on many tiny tents. When In Jae-jin initial presented Jarasum in 2004, a festival’s environment — a stream island that was submerged during complicated sleet — seemed like a impractical choice during best. But a camping breakthrough started around a same time and helped make a area a premier eco-destination.

Following a festival’s early years, when In says his vital appropriation from a internal supervision came with too many clumsy requests (festival soccer fields, for one), he started building toward what he calls a “golden balance”: one-third supervision funding, one-third corporate appropriation and one-third sheet revenues. After some severe patches, Jarasum’s bill has now some-more or reduction staid on that three-part balance, and a festival is thriving. Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism named Jarasum a country’s best festival of 2014. In himself has warranted some fame, too, lecturing on “performance media” during a university and edition a 2014 discourse patrician Youth Is A Sizzling Jazz Festival.

Along with tolerant programming, an appealing environment for camping and plain funding, there’s a counterintuitive cause in Jarasum’s success. “From a beginning,” In explains, “the categorical themes of my festival were nature, friends and family, and rest and refreshment, with reduction importance on music.”

Yes, that’s correct. In attributes a success of his song festival to a truth of putting song last. Check out a branding in Jarasum’s 2015 trailer:

In a blurb that Wes Anderson competence have made, Jarasum sells a retro camping adventure, compelling a festival’s river-island environment as a hipster inlet wonderland. The names of behaving musicians seem on a boat, map, book — props for a weekend in a nation — promulgation a summary that song is immaterial to a altogether Jarasum experience.

“I’m perplexing to give some dreams to a audience,” In explained, when we asked him about a promo film. “They usually wish to spend one or dual days carrying a unequivocally pacific holiday with family and friends, and afterwards maybe there’s some music, too.”

Just as poignant is what a trailer does not have. There are no low angle shots of behaving musicians, forcing a spectator to demeanour adult with requisite reverence; there’s no billing of “legendary artists,” requiring insider believe of what creates them so legendary. Nowhere does Jarasum’s trailer instil that usually jazz heads will scrupulously suffer a festival.

At Jarasum, we mostly suspicion of a Telluride Bluegrass Festival nearby my home in Colorado, where a towering environment and campground jam stage pull festivalgoers as many as a central song program. But Jarasum’s eco-trendiness defines a interest so overwhelmingly that a module can be irrelevant. On a festival’s final afternoon, we found Kim Chan-hee, 26, and her beloved Hyeon, 32, gnawing selfies subsequent to a vast Jarasum Jazz Festival sign. It was their second year during Jarasum, they said, yet when we asked about their favorite act during this year’s festival, they couldn’t name even one.

“We usually come here for a mood, for enjoying a atmosphere,” Kim said, ostensible a small undetermined that she indispensable to spell this out. “We brought a tent. We don’t know a lot about jazz, yet it’s good to hear.” About three-quarters of a festivalgoers we met had a identical story.

On a other finish of a spectrum, we found Lee Cheong-ah, 28, listening attentively to a Jeon Yong Jun Group, a Korean quintet, while she enjoyed some booze and a picnic. (Festivalgoers competence move any food and drinks onto Jarasum’s grounds, and mostly demeanour like well-dressed nomads as they circle their elaborate supplies around in built bags and coolers.) Lee pronounced she’s been listening to jazz given high school. Jazz is her favorite genre of music, and Michel Petrucciani is her favorite musician. Besides creation an annual event to Jarasum, Lee buys jazz recordings and frequently hits Seoul jazz bars like Once In A Blue Moon.

About a fourth of a festivalgoers we met were jazz fans of Lee’s earnestness. The cove between Kim Chan-hee and Lee Cheong-ah, between Jarasum’s jazz agnostics and jazz aficionados, seems wide. Many festivalgoers couldn’t caring reduction about who’s on a program, yet a ones who do come opposite as loyal jazz devotees.

Some of Jarasum’s many vehement festivalgoers were internal troops organisation on holiday. At a festival entrance, a organisation of these camo-bedecked guys, all around 20 years old, told me they were about to hear live jazz for a initial time. we wondered how they’d like a music.

“Of march we’ll like it,” one said. “Why wouldn’t we?”

It’s Only Jazz, But we Like It

“I was unequivocally taken by a childish and intensely fervent audience, as good as a outrageous turnout,” says American guitarist John Scofield, who achieved during Jarasum in 2012. “The younger Korean audiences in ubiquitous are unequivocally understanding jazz enthusiasts who act like they are during a ‘rock concert’ instead of jazz.”

Even a many people during Jarasum who don’t know jazz denote this rock-style unrestrained for it. That slant competence have something to do with South Korea’s new informative history. For decades, an peremptory Korean supervision put a check on a country’s low-pitched development. So jazz is comparatively new to Koreans.

“Though Korea also had a story of jazz during a swing-music era, a tangible time of jazz’s introduction in Korea was a late ’80s,” says Kim Gwang-hyun, editor-in-chief of Korea’s monthly jazz repository Jazzpeople. “During a late ’80s, a democratization epoch in Korea, opposite forms of enlightenment were introduced. Also, jazz was used in many cinema and radio shows during this time, that helped a popularization.”

Jarasum attendees mostly come prepared to stay for a three-day weekend.

Jarasum attendees mostly come prepared to stay for a three-day weekend.

Nah Seung-yull/Courtesy of Jarasum International Jazz Festival


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Nah Seung-yull/Courtesy of Jarasum International Jazz Festival

In Korea, jazz was not a vital low-pitched enlightenment opposite that stone rebelled, so Koreans aren’t compliant to see jazz as a archaic prototype of fresh, childish stone and pop. In other words, a specific low-pitched story gives jazz larger contingency of likability among immature Koreans.

But is Jarasum building a durability jazz audience? After attending a festival, do all those immature urbanites flow into Seoul jazz clubs? Do they get on their smartphones and buy all in Scofield’s behind catalog? The ubiquitous notice is that some do, maybe, yet not most. For “young Koreans who live bustling lives in vast cities,”Jazzpeople‘s Kim says, “jazz festivals are a once-a-year believe of spending cruise time with music. It’s not easy to design critical listening from them.”

The vast event during a Jarasum festival — a assembly doesn’t caring if it’s jazz — can be a vast problem outward a festival: The assembly doesn’t caring adequate about jazz to rise a deeper appreciation. While Jarasum exposes people to jazz in a live setting, Kim says preparation is indispensable to maintain an fast audience. And that raises a paradox: A some-more instructional proceed to jazz competence divide many of those who now suffer a song so accidentally during a festival.

“This was a new believe for a immature Koreans, and in many ways it is successful,” Kim says. “But we have to contend that one festival can’t change everything. It is critical for people to listen some-more and be fervent to learn more.”

So it’s tough to contend how many of Jarasum’s 200,000-plus attendees will turn critical jazz fans. Still, a festival manages to have millennials crowding a jazz stages, and that alone feels like a feat to this American. If, for usually one Oct weekend any year, each Korean hipster wants to be during a jazz festival, it has to be good for a music, right?

“Most of a assembly doesn’t have many event to listen to jazz,” upholder In Jae-jin says. “But during my festival, they can have that chance, and maybe a assembly can find that jazz is utterly good and not bad.”

Americans can’t replicate a relations newness of jazz in Korea, and we wouldn’t wish to; a low jazz story is a inhabitant treasure. But American festivals competence learn something from Jarasum’s gentle jazz presentation, that offers adult a song as one partial of a lovely weekend; that doesn’t design pledges to a jazz fraternity; that is calm with a accepting of “quite good and not bad.”

As someone who’s too mostly been a usually twenty- or thirtysomething in a crowd, a young, charcterised assembly during Jarasum gave me intrinsic hope. During my weekend during Jarasum, we didn’t worry about jazz’s destiny during all.

Michelle Mercer reviews jazz and other song for All Things Considered.

source ⦿ http://www.npr.org/sections/ablogsupreme/2016/01/12/462781123/how-a-korean-jazz-festival-found-a-huge-young-audience

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