Well...yes, Chris. Digitally-induced individualism is on the way to replacing "localism," if I may coin a word...at least it is on some of the lower levels of achievement.
What I see happening...and this goes to jazz and latino styles as well as orchestral approaches...is that current players in their formative years have a vastly wider world of choices than did players of previous generations. Just the last 7 or 8 years have seen a huge proliferation of YouTube-generated "masterclsses," for example...also archival and more recent performances from many players. Ditto non-video examples...recordings...as far as young listeners are concerned. A young player...and I do mean young
, say 14 years old or thereabouts, just past childhood (the real formative years, in my view)...can sit in front of a computer and watch/listen to literally thousands of trombone-related streams with no real idea of who most of the players may be and probably not much of an idea (past his or her own level of intelligence and talent) about their relative expertise. For all you need to know on that account, witness the recent, relatively widespread acceptance on this site of a player who invented some sort of "non-pressure" device and then proceeded to demonstrate it while demonstrating that he was a terrible-sounding trombonist.
Before the digital revolution it was not so easy to find examples at that age. Whatever was on mass media (including well-distributed recordings) was all there was to find, and "media" were all fairly local. French trombonists heard mostly French trombonists, Germans heard Germans and U.S. players heard U.S. players.
Not anymore they don't...
The upside of that sort of localism was that pretty much only the cream of the crop got famous enough to be heard by aspiring players (providing at least some
general level of good-playing examples), thus "local" styles began to form. The downside was that after a generation or two those styles began to harden. They began to stop growing and became a sort of lock-step orthodoxy.
Before recording? Before recording there were mostly larger city orthodoxies. "Leipzig" style. "London" style. Paris" style. "New York" style. Wherever.
Now? No orthodoxies. It is as easy to want to emulate Ian Bousfield as it is to want to emulate Joe Alessi or Christian Lindberg, as easy to be influenced by J.J. Johnson as it is to be influenced by...oh, I don't know...Roswell Rudd, Tommy Dorsey, Slide Hampton, Willie Colon, Urbie Green, Frank Rosolino, Jack Teagarden, Trombone Shorty, Wycliffe Gordon, Barry Rogers, etc.
Localism disappears. The downside? "Style" grows in a somewhat linear fashion...from direct contact with highly skilled players. No Denis Wick? No Ian Bousfield, for example, and that lineage surely goes back several generations. No Jimmy Knepper? No Sam Burtis. Bet on it. Not in my current form, anyway. Crossing instrument lines? No Charlie Parker, no Jimmy Knepper. Bet on that as well. I wnet into the Jimmy Knepper caldron one player and came out several years later completely different. That would not had happened...at least not in the same way...if I had at that time been living in Macon, Georgia no matter if I had collected the entire Knepper discography and transcribed every note. I had to be
here, sitting next to him or at the very least hearing him live. And the Charlie Parker-->Jimmy Knepper lineage was about as localistic as it can get. The style that Bird and Diz founded was almost entirely
-centric in its earliest years...and Jimmy had an uptown cellar apartment with Gene Quill where people...including Bird...came to jam.
In all idioms.
I'll bet there is more...and more easily accessed...Kenny G stuff on the web that there is Charlie Parker.
Like dat, too.
Every technological advance is a two-edged...maybe even three
So it goes.
Interesting..... this is pretty much what I thought would happen.... but with my experience of young players in college it is not as powerful an influence, at least in my neck of the woods. My students discover heros online, sure.... Bob Hughes is popular but so is Stefan Schulz... and do these players sound like their heros ? The Bob Hughes fans do tend towards his style... because it is mainstream British... Stefan is admired greatly, but not copied as such.
This is an area of development is well worth more study....