Okay Okay- before everyone or no one goes off on this, lets start with this:
There are really TWO interconnected sides to the future of Jazz. There is of course, the business side of it; which we know everyone in the music industry is trying to figure out now, not just us Jazz musicians.
But, at least of equal importance is the artistic side, the musical side. Certainly trends in the business side greatly influence the artistic side, but does it work the other way?
As musicians, we have become increasingly reactionary to other types of popular musics. Sometimes we copy parts of them, but we always do it with the air of one-ups-manship.
In our minds, we know that because we are better trained musicians, we can automatically do it better. Or we tend to go the other way- include no elements of the things that make other music 'popular'.
Unfortunately, as you may have guessed, neither approach seems to be beneficial to the music itself.
One of the great things that makes other music popular is that it often still contains an element of Melody- something modern Erudite Jazz and Classical musicians have often forgotten.
Secondly, and this is specifically a criticism of modern classical music; it has an element of GROOVE.
Third- there is often times an element of ethnic folk musics, hey, we have a World full of em.
While, good Jazz can never lose the things that make it great, rhythm, hard swing, etc.
Hopefully, at some point, we can begin to embrace these elements which many of us currently shun, and keep moving the music forward. There are still places to go, and countries undiscovered.
But, don't wait for most industry folks to point the way, they're too busy waiting for their next new 'Savior' of music.