The Playing Field: Panel on Jazz Careers in New York

In this virtual panel, four musicians shared their opinions on and experiences of working in New York City, the Center for Jazz Studies' home base. JSO asked why the panelists chose to work here, how they got established, how the audiences they perform for may have changed, and what their favorite venues in the city are and why.

We selected panelists who were either born in and stayed in New York or have spent crucial parts of their careers here. Saxophonist Dave Liebman is from Queens, and percussionist Bobby Sanabria is from the Bronx (and thus represents Spanish culture and Latin jazz in this mix). Trombonist Dave Gibson is from the American Midwest. Pianist Dado Moroni is from Italy, but has spent many years traveling between New York and his native Genova.

Despite their differing background, the four musicians gave the same reasons to work in New York and took similar paths to become established here. As Liebman puts it the "sheer density" of other players, and the level of inspiration to improvisation and creativity that brings, keep musicians living in this city. The musical networking Liebman alludes to is just as much present, furthermore, in the "other" New York, in Sanabria's Bronx, purportedly at the margins of the city's mainstream culture and away from the most noted venues in Manhattan. All panelists acknowledge that the city has changed over the last generation or so, and that there are fewer local performing opportunities than they found earlier in their careers. Yet together they affirm New enduing status as a creative center and as a prime example of urban environment where jazz often takes form.

Links to each panelist's response appear in the lower left under "Related Resources." "Outside Resources" includes links to the panelists' own websites and to those of venues they refer to in their responses.