Jazz festival economics. Arrgh.
My gut response to Nate Chinen's valuable coverage of unrest at Undead: Once again, I'd like to suggest that the future of jazz lies in bands. No one is going to make a decent living in this music anymore, so we all have to decide what music we really want to make and back it 100%. (For the record, TBP lost several thousand dollars in the first two years of existence.)
At the same time, for those unwilling to commit to the band ethos, it would make sense for there to be some kind of "improvising musician's union" that would ensure a baseline of pay. Local 802 is chronically worthless for our cause.
Stepping away from any specific festival (I haven't had any dealings with Undead or Winter) and moving on to NYC gigs in general --
If everybody knew well in advance that the "union" demanded $200 (a figure suggested by the petition) for approved, concert-level improvising musicians, then that would make every gig in town instantly more scarce and valuable. (Uh, maybe we should start with a $100 baseline, even that would be revolutionary.) Perhaps society will eventually realize that live performance is actually worth more than surfing the internet. If so, it would be good to begin experimenting with these ideas sooner rather than later.
In related news, my gut response to Doug Ramsey and his comment section's derision of Prince at Montreal: Jazz festivals underwritten by corporate sponsors have to book non-jazz acts. There are not enough truly commanding jazz artists left for it to be otherwise. Even the biggest jazz names often bring boring, bloated, unrehearsed, self-involved museum pieces to the main stages of the major festivals. I'd much rather see Prince, who is more in the Duke Ellington tradition of "Afro-American artistry meets entertainment" than dozens of DownBeat poll-winners.