Europe has it. So does Japan. The States? Not so much...and that's lame.
When I interviewed Sonny Rollins years back, the veteran saxophonist said the main reason American-based jazz and creative music isn't really in the public consciousness is because there aren't any television programs devoted to the subject. Using Japan's love of the form as an example, Rollins, while on tour in that part of the planet, lamented about tuning in to several television programs, where a host would play a jazz record and then rap about it afterward.
That obviously doesn't happen in this country very often (if at all?), but that's about to change in Houston.
Beginning in a few weeks, the locally-produced Binarium Sound Series will have its own 30-minute program on the Urban Houston Network. Though details are still in the works, Binarium Sound Series is tentatively scheduled to lock down the 6 p.m. slot every Saturday (as well as a to-be-determined re-air during the week) on the new-ish digital television station 21.6.
"I will film the physical performances from now on and sections of these will be broadcast on the show, as well as me going to other people's studios and documenting their own home processes," says Binarium main man Jonathan Jindra. "I'd like to keep it open to dance, performance and visual art as well, but for the most part, it will focus on music."
The show is an extension of a live series that Jindra currently presents every last Sunday of the month at the Heights' 14 Pews. Binarium also boasts an impressive catalog of podcasts (with new ones added about every two weeks) that showcases a Houston or Houston-connected musician talking about and playing his or her sound art recordings.
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Jindra's brainchild won't be the easiest thing to pull off financially ("the biggest hill for me to climb," he says), especially because the network, which operates under a modest budget, won't be funneling cash into Jindra's Binarium Productions video company. However, Jindra feels that he'll be able to pull off the initial eight-episode run thanks to a sponsorship/advertising deal that he worked out with the network.
In terms of presenting consistently original and interesting content, that shouldn't be a big deal, mostly because he has the following sales pitch in his back pocket: "I doubt there is anybody in this city that I can call and say, 'Hey, I want to put you on TV for five minutes for free' and they'll turn that down!"
For more information, check out Binarium's website.
Full disclosure: Steve Jansen has performed in the Binarium series at 14 Pews before.