25th Anniversary Magazine: editorial by Filippo Bianchi
Tam Tutta Un' Altra Musica - Eventi SCRL | Various articles | 2012-05-10
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Whatever you think can’t be done, someone will come along and do it.
The first question posed by Francesco Martinelli when interviewing some of the EJN’s former presidents for this magazine was: “Are you aware of experiences of European jazz networking before the foundation of EJN in 1987?”.
Most of us answered no, but I am quite sure there had been attempts, and they probably had higher ambitions than EJN. But memory is often not fair, and it seems no one remembers even their existence...
Our ambitions were not all that great – basically the idea was to create a platform to support music that was innovative and interesting, but not backed by the major record industry nor by public institutions. I remember discussing whether, as a metaphor, EJN should have resembled a party or a parliament. The prospect of representing ‘everyone’, as in a parliament, looked out of reach and not that promising. A party then – meaning a group of people that had chosen one another freely, and based around a number of quite specific and limited aims. During meetings we never asked ourselves “how long are we going to last?” . “Our attitude was rather:
We’ve got to do this, and we’re going to have fun doing it.”
Sharing and co-operating are sometimes seen by people just as extra work (often unpaid) and not worth the trouble. Being a journalist at heart, I have the highest respect for the well known
‘five Ws’, but while the who, where, what and when normally have only one objective answer, the why often presents more than one option and it is therefore the most intriguing question. When it comes to why EJN survived and prospered for a quarter century, a possible answer is because its members gave it their time – precious time, as we’re talking about very busy people.
Even in assembling this magazine, the ones who had to write something were sort of late and apologising “sorry, time is short”, but in the end they did deliver.
When EJN started, the words jazz or improvisation did not appear in any document of the EU dealing with cultural policy - the old argument being that jazz was born in the US and thus it’s an American only artform which is akin to saying theatre was born in Greece and thus it’s a Greek only art form! Today we have a steady relationship with the EU and have developed into one of the largest and tightest cultural associations worldwide.
I could go on forever telling you why we should be proud of what we have done in the past and will do in the future, but to keep it short I’ll just quote a recent email that Mehmet Ulug wrote to the members which I found explains it well: “I just would like to tell all the EJN members what a wonderful tool our network can be... I needed to find an artist and sent out a general email asking for help. I had more than 10 very helpful replies back in less than an hour! Thanks to all who are a part of this wonderful network.”
It’s that simple.