What exactly is a jazz star? Is it he or she who is popular, sells a lot of CDs, or headlines the major festivals? Could be...or not. As I see it there are two kinds: There are those who arrive at jazz stardom through merit, and those who arrive at it through marketing. One is a byproduct of doing great work; they produce something desirable and consequently, a lot of people want it; the other is a byproduct of having out spent their contemporaries. People do want they have to offer, but mainly because they're being told to. This was very common in the late 80s and most of the 1990s.
The problem with the latter is that it has influenced the previous. People who initially created good and sincere work began mimmicking the strategies of those who achieved it through marketing.
During this period, managers and agents had us duped into believing that we could not have a career without having a marketable story. People had totally lost faith in just doing quality work. It was really sad. And what was considered a good story was constantly changing. At one time it was being from New Orleans; then it was being able to play jazz and classical; then it was being young and black; then it was being from Cuba; then it was having a band with your brother; then it was being the son of a famous jazz musician. And it went on and on. It was everything except producing great music. So you can see why many who rose to jazz stardom under these pretenses, eventually faded.
First they madea name for themselves playing their own music.
- Then when bookings became more difficult, they began forming all-star bands.
- When that stopped working, they put together an electric or funk project.
- And when all else failed, they started playing someone else's music.