Down Beat hasn't been cool since jazz musicians themselves were America's arbiters of cool (i.e., before Wynton Marsalis picked up a trumpet). The cover of the February issue depicts blond, white blues musicians Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, beckoning readers with sugary looks and the command "Hop Aboard the Family Blues Caravan!" (Thanks, but I'm going to the mall with Stacey.)
The institutions that rep jazz in the 21st century are simply out of touch. That's why they have to struggle to get young people interested. Who gives a fuck what kids think they don't appreciate jazz anyway, right?
Are jazzmudgeons actually happy that the Blue Room is run by the American Jazz Museum, kept alive by donations and tax dollars?
It's more heartbreaking that no one is rushing to save the Mutual Musicians Foundation, a beacon of hope where audiences and musicians could forget that Cosby-sweater jazz ever existed.
It's good that Kansas City made Down Beat's list. Better a Blue Room than no Blue Room. And its calendar has looked pleasingly full these days.
But we live next to de Missouri River, not de Nile. Jazz won't be hip again until its proponents get over all that historical-legacy-art-form talk, get rid of the TV-studio look at clubs and just let it blow, wild and dirty.