Veteran Jazz artistes have lamented that the lack of Jazz institutes and funding hamper growth of Jazz music and artistes in Nigeria.
The artistes spoke at a virtual Jazz Conference organised by the Lagos Jazz Society (LJS) to mark the eightieth birthday of actor, storyteller, folklorist and jazz player, Jimi Solanke.
Describing Jazz education in Nigeria as both ‘abysmal and growing’, award-winning Jazz Artiste, and composer, Bright Gain said while there are many Nigerians willing to learn jazz music, there are a few to no jazz schools in the country.
The director of Span Academy of Jazz and Contemporary Music, Lagos, said those who manage to attend the academy eventually drop out owing to their inability to fund their tuition. Although the institute had sought foreign aid from Jazz Education in the US, support is often rendered in-kind via the delegation of jazz educators to the institute to build capacity and a collaboration with the institute to develop a Jazz curriculum.
The collaboration also yielded in an opening for Nigerian students to study Masters in Jazz in the US. Nigerians, he however, noted are yet to meet the rigorous standards of the school.
“It takes passion, love for the artform and money to learn jazz in Nigeria,” said Gain. Second to the lack of funding is artistes’ impatience to master the fundamentals of Jazz, beyond learning to play the instrument, thereby leading to mediocre jazz artistes.
“Learning an instrument is fine but learning to play an instrument very well is another thing. The latter is harder, but when you learn something very well, you can express yourself anyway you chose to. We need funding for young people to properly learn Jazz.”
Lending his voice to Gain’s, classical flutist and Jazz enthusiast, Tee Mac, said the higher the number of music schools in the country, the higher the standard of play.
He urged individuals and groups to seek financial support from government or government officials with passion for Jazz to help drive jazz education and support Jazz artistes.
Presently, Nigerian Jazz artistes, Tee Mac said lack the education to compare to their counterparts abroad. What we need to do is to train their brains to become professionals in Jazz, so they can tour abroad and wow their audience with what they can bring to the artform. We need to invest financially into Jazz so that younger artistes can record their music in reputable studios. We need to do recorded shows, with invited journalists in attendance to cover these shows, and commercialize them since live shows are not as popular and lucrative as they were in the 90s.”
Lasting about four hours, the virtual conference wound down with the documentary on the celebrant by Ayo Adewunmi titled The Jimi Show.