In November-December 2019, I did a qualitative survey focussing on life and working conditions of young professional German jazz musicians. The project was undertaken for and presented at the 2nd international symposium of the Hungarian Jazz Research Group (Jatakucs), following the invitation of Kornél Zipernovszky to Budapest in 02/2020. As the Covid-19 pandemic spread over the globe it became apparent that a publication of the subsequent paper would not be possible in 2020 due to many delaying factors in the academic conference and publication spheres.
Instead, I decided to upload a preprint version of the article here on my website with the aim of making the findings more accessible.
Jazz culture in today’s Germany is a broad kaleidoscope of creative local and translocal musicians, scenes, clubs, festivals and universities. Still, the majority of German jazz musicians struggles to make a decent living doing jazz (Renz 2016). The article drafts an overview aimed for an international readership, asking how the German jazz scenes and networks in context with state subsidies and institutions are generally structured. On the other side stands the question of social and practical realities of a young generation of professional German jazz musicians. How and why are they «doing jazz» (Müller 2017)? Here, again aimed for an international audience, the article presents findings of the first large German jazz study („Jazzstudie 2016“, Renz 2016) and compares key insights and hypothesis to findings of a qualitative focussed survey undertaken by me in December 2019. As a mostly educated middle-class music, jazz has seemingly lost its friction as a means to mutualize, criticize or take part in contemporary political discourses. Yet, being a jazz musician is a valid life script in nowadays Germany. Central aspects here seem to be individuality and the expression of oneself. The overall intention of this paper is to give some insights into existing cultural structures, as well as discussing self-conceptions and needs of a selection of young professional German jazz musicians.