If you visit the Web site of Boosey & Hawkes, the leading independent publisher of classical music, and scroll just left of the images of Sergei Rachmaninof and Aaron Copland, you'll land on Wynton Marsalis.
Should it surprise that the company representing deceased classical masters such as Rachmaninoff and Copland and celebrated living composers like John Adams and Steve Reich has now turned to the work of jazz composers? Not really. Jazz musicians from Ellington to Mingus to Marsalis and beyond have long blurred the lines between jazz and classical forms. And leading jazz figures have for some time now earned rightful status as composers, as well as musicians.
"If you think about demographics for classical and jazz, it's roughly the same percentage of marketplace," says Marc Ostrow, general manager of the company's New York office. "And if you think about what we do, it's really just a way to expand the diversity of our musical offerings without diminishing the Boosey & Hawkes brand." Ostrow created the company's jazz initiative two years ago, and hired its first-ever jazz expert, Adina Williams.
Since launching the initiative, in addition to Marsalis, the company has signed on David Benoit, Chick Corea, Paquito D'Rivera, and, just a month before his passing, Andrew Hill. It has also forged relationships with Sue Mingus, representing some of Charles Mingus' music, Don Sickler's Second Floor Music imprint, and Kay Duke, representing the work of Vernon Duke.
"We believe that this initiative is significant," says Ostrow, "in that no other publisher, let alone a classical publisher of Boosey's stature, is actively building a jazz publishing program and providing these artists with the exposure and respect they so richly deserve."
Is it an entirely different game, marketing the music of a jazz composer as opposed to a classical one? "Ironically, the answer to is that we treat our jazz clients in the same manner as we treat our classical clients," says Ostrow. "It's just finding appropriate venues and partners."
Already, Boosey & Hawkes's jazz initiative has led to orchestral commissions for Chick Corea and David Benoit. And it has enabled some less obvious activity: Corea's "Check Blast" has been licensed for the X-Box "Gotham Racing" game.