2014 July Nashville Arts Magazine

Page 30

Unplugged

Art in Formation PHOTOGRAPH BY ANTHONY SCARLATI

Stirrings from the Nashville Underground by Tony Youngblood According to Greg Bryant, Nashville has all the hallmarks of a vital jazz scene. All but one. He explains: “More players are moving into the area, and patrons of the music have increased, but in order to be healthier, we still need an establishment to embrace a full-time (five to seven days a week) policy where jazz and improvisational music is the focus.”

Greg Bryant, Mason Embry, and Dara Tucker performing at the Jazz Cave

As a Nashville native and working musician, Bryant would know. He plays electric bass in Concurrence (with Paul Horton), Greg Bryant Expansion, and jazz ensembles all over town. He produces (most recently Dara Tucker’s upcoming album The Sun Season), composes, organizes shows for national artists like Dr. Lonnie Smith and Nasheet Waits, and hosts the JazzWatch podcast.

PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN SCARPATI

In the absence of a dedicated jazz venue, Bryant says, “We’re seeing musicians taking the lead to create their own playing opportunities at restaurants, educational spaces, and clubs like Dalts American Grill, Springwater, Tokyo Grill, Soulshine Pizza, The Five Spot, and the Schermerhorn. The Nashville Jazz Workshop continues to showcase several of our city’s finest improvisers as well as internationally recognized players. Curators like Chris Davis, Cliff Richmond, Rahsaan Barber, and Evan Cobb host events that highlight different sides of the music.”

Even though Nashville is teeming with world-class improvisers, it can still be a struggle to be heard over the din of steel guitars and fuzz pedals. We need greater media exposure, more community support, and perhaps even a change in how we perceive improvisational music. “Even in its rawest, most challenging state, I’m learning that it shouldn’t be sold as ‘underground’ or ‘fringe music’. It is people music. It can be cerebral and visceral. It involves community and must be willing to reach beyond its borders to attract new listeners.” Tony Youngblood is the founder of the Circuit Benders’ Ball, a biennial celebration of free culture, art, music, and the creative spirit. He created the open-source, multi-artist, scalable “art tunnel” concept called M.A.P.s (ModularArtPods.com) and runs the experimental improv music blog and podcast www.TheatreIntangible.com.

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30 | July 2014 NashvilleArts.com


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