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Shake This Devil Off

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Shake This Devil Off
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Ray Gehring & Commonwealth,  a Brooklyn based, modern jazz ensemble comprised of dozens of multi-national participants citywide, is requesting funding from organizations (in collaboration with other not-for-profits) in order to produce “Shake This Devil Off”, a project to expose, engage and excite the public about jazz music by expanding their experience through live performances at various accessible sites throughout the New York City area. Over the next 12 months the project team will perform and record a series of concerts to assess and identify what our communities find most engaging about live jazz. We will reframe the present context of a traditional jazz concert by performing our music out in the public during the day and earlier evenings allowing more of the general public to attend. This will introduce a larger percentage of the population to jazz music thus developing a broader, diverse and more involved audience/fan base for its musicians. In so doing, we will build greater sustainability for jazz artists while the community benefits from more exposure to one of the most unique and innovative music genres in American history.


We are seeking the non-traditional jazz fan in the New York City Area. A music lover who either holds no view or a negative view of jazz music. In 2012, to better understand prospective jazz audiences, The Jazz Audiences Initiative provided formidable exhaustive research data regarding the concert choices and listening habits of Columbus, OH area participants and national survey respondents discovering three major “musical pathways” into jazz for prospective audiences: 1) rock/popular music; 2) classical music, and 3) country/folk/bluegrass.

Musicians have been aware of this trend for decades now and prospective jazz fans have contributed significantly to the diverse, cross-cultural success of our ensemble's music and many others. Much of our “fans” didn't have exposure to jazz prior to attending our performances. Furthermore, they didn’t consider the music they experienced as “jazz” when indeed we incorporate countless elements of this great tradtion. 

When reaching out to “prospectives”, a non-jazz vocabulary is crucial in order to for many to relate through the larger scope of current music. The term “jazz” has become arcane and we must act with even greater urgency in unique ways to capture new listeners. This project's concerts are designed to attract them,  ask them to communicate in return (via email, website, Facebook etc.) and act upon they liked and what more we can do to keep them engaged in the local jazz/ music communities.

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