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Jazz Primer

What's the best way to introduce someone to Jazz?

By Published: December 9, 2004
Date: 29-May-1998 00:14:26
From: Clive Wing ( clive@accesshost.com.sg )
Ask them what they like about their favourite music or artist —rhythm, melody, lyrics etc—and match it with a jazz musician whose work has parallels. That's pretty much how I came to jazz in the late 60s. I liked Hendrix, Cream, Pink Floyd and Indian music and through a friend quickly found Carla Bley (because Jack Bruce was on Escalator over the Hill), Mahavishnu Orchestra and Yusef Lateef (his fine Impulse! recordings have lots of Asian instruments and rhythms). Then, through John Mclaughlin, Miles Davis. Then along came Weather Report and Gary Burton. Once you find an artist you like and start reading about them, by association you'll find others (Although it's taken me 30 years to find Bobby Hutcherson!) And if one is lost for ideas, Kind of Blue is as good a baptism as any, as several other contributors have mentioned. I've played it to several Chinese friends who know nothing about jazz and they've instantly connected. A very perceptive comment from one of them who was hearing jazz for the first time, was that no matter how many times you listen to it, it never sounds the same even though you can hum along with the tunes. Perhaps his love of Chinese opera has taught him to listen in a different way to somebody who lives for rock music? Clive Wing


Date: 29-May-1998 14:20:18
From: Anupam Basu ( anupam@comports.com )
Hi, I'm from India; that is to say outside the 'culture.' But yet it seems I might be getting hooked to Jazz for good. Here radio stations don't play Jazz—we only get the hateful MTV crap! So getting into Jazz is proving a difficult road for me. I usually listened to some standard Rock Music from the Beatles to U2 and Nirvana and also a lot of Western Classical music. But unlike the Jazz-rock fusion path that most rock fans seem to take I first got interested when I heard the Indian Classical- Jazz fusion of Shakti. I suppose the appeal of the Shakti sound was natural. As I was trying to get deeper into the new music from the new world someone told me Kenny G played Jazz! and I almost got off the train. But Miles Davis and Kind of Blue came to the rescue. I think that was the turning point for me—divine. One major problem has been the availability of albums. I'm often recommended albums over the net but simply can't find them here. The only ray of hope is the Sony legacy series which has recently become available. Well, I'll sign off for now. Wish me luck as I try to grapple with Mozart and Monk with a sprinkling of Ali Akbar thrown in:-)! Bye, Anupam.


Date: 31-May-1998 19:45:03
From: Semenya McCord ( semenya@aol.com )
Haven't read every comment word for word, but seems like we have a continually growing audience for this artform. This is a good thing! I didn't get "into" jazz, as such, until I was in college, but I feel like the fact that I was hearing and performing a variety of music: classical, folk, pop all my life (since 5th grade), and that somewhat predisposed me to be an ardent jazz fan/performer because I feel like I can appreciate the "multicultural" contributions to the genre, especially since the 1940s or so. I teach a jazz history course at UMASS/Dartmouth, and this website is great! Thanks!


Date: 01-Jun-1998 14:25:51
From: Amy ( award@prodigy.net )
I can't think of a better way to introduce jazz than to pretend you're not doing it at all—have friend in question over, slap on My Funny Valentine—Miles Davis in Concert, or any form of Dave Bruebeck you have, and all of a sudden you'll have a drooling "give me more of this" person staring you in the face, realizing they've loved it all their lives. I just think that's how it works.


Date: 09-Jun-1998 08:08:55
From: Peter Schmidlin ( info@tcb.ch )
Whenever I play some Jazz CDs for guests at home who DON'T know about Jazz I get this: "Oh, that is nice music, what's that." When I tell them that this is Jazz they say: "This is Jazz? Well, I always thought Jazz is just loud and with no melody, but this is really nice." Then of course I try to explain what Jazz is all about and (hopefully) there goes a new future Jazzfan. This obviously shows that all starts with education. How can you expect someone to like/love Jazz, if all he/she hears in his/her youth is just 'noise'? To all the music-teachers out there: There's a big job to be done. If done correctly, the Jazz community might well increase to 20 or 30% in 2 or 3 generations as against 2-3% today......


Date: 24-Jun-1998 17:22:03
From: Stephen B.
I agree with the comment that there are not many Bay City Roller fans who like Chuck Berry. I think that the best way to introduce jazz is to give them Kind of Blue. I got started on Kind of Blue and although now I listen to a lot of jazz, I still think that Kind of Blue is the best of all. If they don't like jazz after listening to that album, they're not gonna like it.


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