This month's issue of JazzEd magazine (page 32) has an interview with Elvin Jones from 1971. His voice on the page sparkles with life and intelligence, the same way his drumming did when I saw him at the Regattabar more than 10 years ago.
He speaks to the music scene in Detroit when he was coming up. I'll quote him here (emphases mine):
There was an elderly man then who was a jazz patron of the arts, you might say. He was quite walthy and had retired from business. He used to run one of Ford's plants in Ohio, as the general manager or something like that. He lived in Royal Oak, Michigan, so he used to come to the Bluebird a lot. He decided that he wanted to sponsor concerts like Norman Granz. He asked Thad and me to get some musicians together and from there we would see about hiring a hall, get publicity out, and put on a concert. So we did it.
I love the do-it-yourself attitude here. An individual who felt that music was important to the culture of his community spent his own money, talked to some musicians and made it happen. Elvin doesn't say whether the concerts made or lost money, but surely that was not the point.
In the United States today, there are surely no shortages of individuals with the wherewithal to sponsor concerts and the passion to encourage the growth of music that builds intelligence, soul, and culture. Are they out there?