A NEW campaign which aims to strip the “beards and beer bellies” image away from jazz music in Scotland has been unveiled.
The J-Word project will see six leading venue promoters across the country join forces to stage shows by acts which they believe will consign “old men’s music” cliches about the genre to the past.
The Scottish Jazz Federation has won a £30,000 grant from arts agency Creative Scotland for the venture, which will be launched in the spring with two major tours.
Its director, Cathie Rae, admits that jazz is perceived as a “bad word” by many music fans - despite being heavily used in advertising campaigns.
Now the Eden Court Theatre, in Inverness, Aberdeen Performing Arts, Perth Theatre, the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh, the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and OnatFife have linked up with the Sage Centre in Gateshead to run the tours, which will feature major international acts alongside lesser-known Scottish groups.
Ms Rae said: “There’s been a problem for a long time with new audiences being put off going to jazz gigs because they’re seen as the preserve of ageing ‘pale male afficionados.
“We want audiences to focus on the great experience they’ve had, rather than the style of music they’ve been listening to, so that the next time a J-Word tour is advertised, they buy a ticket regardless of who’s on.
“This way, we hope to change the perception of jazz from ‘old men’s music’. No more beards or beer bellies.”
Adrian Harris, chief executive of the Queen’s Hall, said: “The creation of the J-Word was necessary because jazz audiences in Scotland are levelling off, not growing, and our research showed that many different demographic groups were interested in going to jazz gigs, but were turned off for various reasons.
“We hope to address those reasons, while retaining our core audience, and encourage people to experience some great music.”