Ever since producing concerts as a high school student in 1967 featuring such artists as Tony Scott, Jaki Byard and Gary Bartz, producer/manager/strategic planner/writer/activist Marty Khan has worked tirelessly for more than 40 years as an advocate for Jazz, especially dedicated to those who make the music.
A co-founder of Outward Visions, Inc., a not-for-profit arts and education service organization incorporated in 1980 (previously known as Rasa Artists since 1976), and one of the most astute, knowledgeable and dedicated Jazz professionals, he learned the business from the ground up, with eight years in retail, wholesale and distribution (the company he co-founded was the first American national distributor of labels like Black Saint, Steeplechase, Concord Jazz and many independent musicians’ labels), while studying saxophone with Bill Barron and Sam Rivers and playing for two years in one of Rivers’ Studio Rivbea workshop ensembles in the early 1970s.
Marty has produced more than 30 albums, scores of concerts and through the Outward Visions Touring Program (1977-1994) arranged over 200 tours comprising more than 1000 concerts which helped establish Jazz presenters all over the country, some of which are among the foremost producers of Jazz concerts today. He has also curated and produced festivals in New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Tucson.
Affiliated with some of the late 20th Century’s most innovative and provocative artists in Jazz and the performing arts, he handled management for the Art Ensemble of Chicago and the World Saxophone Quartet for 14 years each as well as shorter, but highly productive stints with such heavyweights as Sam Rivers, Anthony Braxton, Sonny Fortune and non-Jazz notables like John Zorn, Steve Reich and Kennedy Center Honoree, visionary choreographer Alwin Nikolais. In addition, Marty was involved in arranging major tours for artists like Randy Weston, Sun Ra, Lester Bowie, Henry Threadgill and many other adventurous and innovative artists.
His nearly 25-year management relationship with the legendary George Russell ended with George’s passing in 2007, and he continues to advise Alice Russell on matters of George’s estate. He also helped oversee the activities of the Contemporary African-American Music Organization, Inc. (CAAMO), dedicated to preserving and extending the legacy of the late Makanda Ken McIntyre and provided similar services on behalf of the legacy of the late Thomas Chapin through Akasha, Inc., the non-profit organization Marty helped established for this purpose in 1999.
His record production credits include albums by Rivers, Fortune, George Russell, the WSQ, Oliver Lake, John Stubblefield, James Spaulding, Makanda Ken McIntyre, Mike Nock, Leroy Jenkins and others. He has also been instrumental in the business arrangements for dozens more, including Thomas Chapin, Charles Gayle, Giacomo Gates, Jimmy Giuffre, Melvin Gibbs, Bernie Worrell and many others
Khan produced the Kool Jazz Festival’s New Directions in Sound and Rhythm in Los Angeles in 1982, a highly successful all “avant-garde” festival featuring such luminaries as the Art Ensemble, Bowie, World Sax Quartet, James ‘Blood’ Ulmer, Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell’s Sound & Space, John Carter, Muhal Richard Abrams, Air, Laurie Anderson and the Nikolais Dance Theatre. He was highly instrumental in creating the groundbreaking New Jazz at the Public series at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater in New York that brought the avant-garde scene of the late ’70s and ’80s into public prominence.
In 1994, after moving to the desert mountains just outside of Tucson, Arizona, Marty began laying the groundwork for the massive Coltrane Project of Philadelphia to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the birth of John Coltrane in 1996. He conceived The Project to “expose children and young adults to the ideals that Coltrane represents – commitment, spirituality, enlightenment, and transcendence”. The Project involved seven arts-oriented community organizations, the University of Pennsylvania and artists like Fortune, Lake, Reggie Workman, Larry Harlow, Charles Gayle, Rashied Ali, Makanda Ken McIntyre and choreographers Eiko and Koma, Rennie Harris Roko Kawai, Hassan al Falak, and many more artists creating new works and providing workshops and concerts throughout the city.
In 2003 he produced The Afro-Latino-Americas Festival in Tucson, which provided over 30 workshops in 16 schools by internationally acclaimed artists, including Lake, Navajo vocalist Mary Redhouse, Ravi Coltrane and Dom Minasi that culminated in a free outdoor festival at an urban park; and established The Transcendence Initiative (Dedicated to the Artistry & Spirit of John Coltrane) which brought the Oliver Lake Steel Quartet to Tucson for seven concerts and over 30 workshops in schools and community centers in the Fall of 2003 and Spring of 2004.
Over the years Khan has developed a number of programs to address the most pressing needs of Jazz musicians including product distribution, incorporation, health care and self-empowerment. He also developed a number of large-scale plans and initiatives that are culturally and socially-based and designed for economic self-sufficiency and created to have a profound impact on both the local and national level. These include the MOJO™ Initiative (Masters of Jazz Oracle), The Living Jazz Heritage Initiative™, URSA (Urban Renewal through Sports Activism) and The Cultural Enterprise Initiative. Although the funding world spends a great deal of money on meetings, panels and surveys, it became clear that there was no interest in seriously addressing any of these issues or implementing any of these initiatives, so Marty moved on to other things.
After writing a series of blistering articles for the Pariah’s Diatribes at birdlives.com, Marty began writing about the music as gmn.com and Jazzplus.com’s George Lane and he continues to write on a freelance basis under his own name. He has four articles on allaboutjazz.com addressing the serious issues confronting Jazz artists and the art form itself, and several blogs on www.outwardvisions.com. His writings have always been thought-provoking, insightful, passionate, honest and informative. His foresight and predictions regarding the current crises in the Jazz business and the failings of so many programs due to poor conception and lack of integrated planning have been dead on target and increasingly more evident as time goes on.
Marty has worked as a consultant and advisor to a variety of organizations since he provided more than 50 consultations for the National Jazz Service Organization’s Technical Assistance Program in the early ‘90s. He was principal consultant for the African American Jazz Caucus (AAJC), for whom he conducted business workshops and other activities at several IAJE Conferences. In addition, from August 2005 through November 2006 he worked extensively with the AAJC on the development and establishment of a Jazz Research Institute at North Carolina Central University. He conceived the elements and related programs and activities for the Institute, including the establishment of a Festival and Summit Conference, the first of which took place in June 2007. From 2008 to 2010 Khan was the principal strategist and business consultant for LiveWired, Inc., a New York-based non-profit focused upon a wide range of activities in music, design and social enterprise.
A widely recognized expert in the non-profit arts world, Khan has helped set up more than 60 non-profit organizations for Jazz musicians and service providers, and has provided assistance to dozens more and literally hundreds of individual artists as well, including Passin’ Thru, Inc. (Oliver Lake), Concept, Inc. (George Russell), Nation of Imagination, Inc. (Craig Harris), Connection Works, Inc. (Rob Garcia), Y’all of New York (James Jabbo Ware), Inner Arts Initiative, Inc. (Chris Dingman), Resonant Motion, Inc., (Noah Baerman), Convergence Arts, Inc. (Amanda Monaco) and ShapeShifter Plus (Matthew Garrison). Marty has also advised, trained and mentored numerous Jazz professionals over the last 40 years, many of whom have become major figures in the performing and fine arts business, including Seton Hawkins, Doug Keogh, Robert Singerman, Lauren Iossa, John Tomlinson, Terry Jenoure, Don Lucoff, Joel Chriss and Darrell Bridges.
Extensively experienced in virtually every aspect of the Jazz and performing arts business, Khan wrote Straight Ahead: A Comprehensive Guide to the Business of Jazz (Without Sacrificing Dignity or Artistic Integrity) for both Jazz musicians and professionals and the accompanying Teacher’s Guide with Suggested Assignments, both published in Spring 2004 by Outward Visions Books. He has also developed a full two-semester curriculum for a college level course on the Jazz business that utilizes Straight Ahead as the textbook. Straight Ahead is in the libraries of more than 100 educational institutions and has beenutilized as the principal text in classes at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, University of Illinois-Urbana, North Carolina Central University and the University of Arizona and is a recommended book at many more. It is now also available as an e-book.
An energizing and knowledgeable speaker and raconteur, Marty has lectured at Yale, Rutgers, New York University, the New School for Social Research (now the New School University), Columbia, the New England Conservatory, the Hartford Artists Collective, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, ASCAP, and the Arizona Commission for the Arts, and from 2007 to 2011 he lectured extensively for the Careers in Music courses at the University of Arizona’s Camerata Program.
In 2005 Marty began providing strategic planning services for many outstanding artists whose goals and aspirations are to search for the highest level of artistic achievement in the classic traditions of the Jazz art. Past and current clients include Oliver Lake, Warren Smith, Joseph Daley, Dom Minasi, Claire Daly, Kirpal Gordon, Giacomo Gates, Chris Dingman, Robert Mitchell, Rob Reddy, Amanda Monaco, Noah Baerman, Andrew Drury, Brian Chin, Christian Howes, ShapeShifter and Jeff Denson.
Most recently Marty has begun to combine his love of writing and music by providing writing services to musicians, publicists and record labels, including press releases, one-sheets, bios and educational imperatives. His keen understanding of the music and those who make it has given him another creative outlet for his talents. Response from musicians has been overwhelmingly positive and the most frequent comment is that he totally gets what they are trying to communicate through their music.
Marty’s first book of fiction, Through the Membrane, was published in December 2015 on Giant Steps Press. The book contains three novellas of paranormal-tinged tales that take place in the Jazz environment.
Scheduled to be published in the near future are:
Transformations In Syncopated Time, a collection of short stories.
Riffin’ on a Thrive, a collection of Jazz writings dating back to the late 1990s.