Letters for the Week of May 18 

Readers sound off on the Bay Area jazz scene, guns at Berkeley High, and Art Murmur.

"Kind of Blue," Feature, 5/4

Jazz Musicians and A's Players

What a sad piece of truth in your article! With KCSM-FM on in the background as I read your piece, I couldn't help but wonder if the sounds of jazz emanating from my radio was akin to a slow — albeit spirited — death march.

As informative as your piece was (e.g., BART's limited hours and the aging jazz lovers), I couldn't help but see the same parallels playing out with the Oakland A's and the talent they keep losing to other baseball markets.

While there are some shining moments, I fear we are losing the fight to other genres of music. It's a fight worth waging, nonetheless.

Finally, much praise to you for capturing the emotional highs and lows of the local jazz scene that I have been feeling for some time. Having been a fan of jazz since 1995, your article, without question, is the greatest piece of writing on the local jazz scene that I have read to date. I hope to read more of your work.

P.S. Two thumbs up to those who designed the cover page! It was the Miles Davis album theme that attracted me to your article.

Jeff Regan, Berkeley

Listen Up

Jazz isn't played on the radio? That's what Rachel Swan said in her interesting and thought-provoking article. I beg to differ. The Bay Area is fortunate to have one of the few remaining all-jazz stations in the country at 91.1 FM and KCSM.org. We are proud to be a part of the Bay Area's jazz scene, and broadcasting our 24-a-day, non-commercial, all-jazz format on the web as well. Check us out and help us to continue our mission of keeping jazz alive and well, here and abroad, by supporting us during our spring membership drive at 1-800-527-6911 or KCSM.org.

Melanie Berzon

Program Director, KCSM Radio

Jazz Center for Whom?

Somehow, I don't think much of the $60 million being spent on the SFJAZZ Center is going to end up supporting local jazz musicians. I have a feeling the lion's share, if not all of it, will end up in the pockets of architects, construction workers, administrators, and jazz academics.

As a local jazz musician who's made a living playing improvised music for thirty years and is barely scrimping by, it hurts to get a phone call asking for donations for a $60-million "jazz center." What about spending that money on publicizing the venues that already exist and subsidizing the pay of the musicians who play at those venues? The local venues need help — not more competition from a subsidized institution of jazz academics which will hire more East Coast jazz groups to perform while the local jazz players can't even afford to pay to hear them.

Matt Eakle, San Anselmo

Age Bias

Why is so much attention here on the high school contingent? Jazz is about life experience and soul expression and there are plenty of talented jazz musicians who never went to Berkeley High, who are a lot older, that are overlooked for these "hot new kids on the block." I realize they may be the future of jazz, but one needs to look at motivation — is it the media attention spurring them on or the music?

Mary D'Orazi, Oakland

Where's the Love?

I think that the Bay Area jazz scene is very much alive. The musicians are working very hard and creatively to keep playing the music they love. The biggest part is that you have support for the music that you love. There is a lot of great music being played to an empty audience. These same folks would pack out the house if a rap or R&B group came to a major club, but you could hear crickets chirp if it were a jazz act during the week. Jazz is our American art form. Let's give it the love it deserves. Peace!

James Knox, Oakland

"Reacting to Guns at Berkeley High," News, 5/4

Get 'Em Young

As a graduate of Berkeley High in 1957, I am troubled by issues over weapons on campus. During my years weapons were nonexistent, even larger pocket knives.

The solution must start before these students even get to BHS. Through all lower school grades there must be conversations, counseling, information, and in-depth education about the harm (with no upside benefits) that weapons bring.

A system must be employed where previous offenders are screened and checked randomly on campus.

Violence begets violence.

Bob Kurtz, Berkeley

Powerless Victims

Comparing administrative processes in Richmond Unified to BUSD requires a hard look at some of central differences between the "Berkeley way" and school districts nationally. Berkeley's superintendent and board claim they are prohibited from reporting on-campus robberies to police; this is a violation of state and federal laws that require violent crimes be referred to local law enforcement.

Wrap-around services start with early identification; if the school district is in the business of covering up crime there is little likelihood that prevention will be meaningful. Compare the high school incident data with the district expulsion data and the mandated state reporting data. The ad hoc safety committee is spending time listening to the district explanation of discrepancies rather than focusing on systemic data collection capable of targeting high-risk kids for early intervention purposes.


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