How The Jazzworld Is Indelibly Tied To The Travel Industry

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​Reedist Tim Berne said he’s rethinking the way he books tours and runs a band in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic upending air travel.

(Photo: Courtesy of Artist)

The uncertainty has made Berne think differently about running a band in the future.

I don’t really want to front plane tickets on any tour anymore. … I’m going to think twice about that,” he said. “The other thing is, I’m also 65. So, I’ve been doing this for a while, and I’m in the latter part of my [career]. So, do I want to go to Europe five times a year, and travel around and fly all over the place? I’m a little hesitant about that in the immediate future, at least.”

Concerns over prices and lingering worries about the pandemic are compounding some musicians’ anxieties about returning to normal touring. And although vibraphonist Warren Wolf, who recently released Reincarnation on Mack Avenue, still has some gigs on the books, he’s got just as many reservations.

I’m scheduled to play Dazzle at the end of July. And, you know, personally I have to talk with each one of my band members to see how they feel about flying,” Wolf said in April about a booking in Denver that has since been canceled. “And, you know, we have a gig actually right before—we play Vail. And I have to talk to each one of these guys; I’ll say, How do you guys feel, Number 1, about flying? They’ll say either yes or no. And then I have the next question: Once we get to [Colorado], how do you guys feel about all being in the car for two hours, all together? And, you know, it seems like most people are OK. Me personally, I live my life just moving forward. I mean, I understand the fear and what’s at stake. Eventually, I think, all of us are gonna have to deal with it, we’re gonna have to come out—sure, we’re going to take precautions. But we’re going to have to move past this at some point. Who knows when that will be.”

Dealing with rearranging other flights wasn’t problematic for Wolf, who, in addition to leading his own ensemble and playing in the SFJAZZ Collective, teaches at the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He does, however, think that this moment’s instability requires a bit more understanding from carriers.

“I just wish the airlines would lighten up a little bit and just give most folks refunds … because giving us 12 months [to reschedule flights] is typically great,” he began, “but if it’s 12 months and we don’t exactly know what’s gonna happen in the future, then it’s kind of like, What’s up?” DB

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