All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Serving jazz worldwide since 1995
All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Genius Guide to Jazz

All About All About Jazz

By Published: December 12, 2003
The egalitarian mission of AAJ firmly in place, Ricci began building AAJ into a cornucopia of all possible jazz-related material. To that end, he acquired the rights to virtually every available photograph of a jazz musician stroking their chin thoughtfully and looking into the camera with an expression of stern contemplation. He also purchased virtually everything in Dizzy Gillespie's catalogue (Diz, a tireless crusader for jazz and marketing genius, had compiled a mail-order compendium of jazz-related merchandise. I recently sent away for the beret-shaped salsa bowl, and the deluxe soul patch grooming kit).

Early on, AAJ distinguished itself from its competition by providing a level of jazz coverage heretofore unseen in the electronic media. While other sites were content just to post dry, academic histories and elitist dissertations on the hallowed nature of jazz and how it was too sacred to be entrusted to the heathen masses, AAJ took the reader so deep inside jazz it would take a colonoscopy to find them.

That came out wrong.

As his dream finally began to come to fruition, Ricci began to plan his next move. He could be content with his thriving software business, Screenthemes, and his growing online jazz emporium; or he could set his sights higher, become the next great impresario of the music he loved so much. Like Norman Granz, George Wein and Lt. Gen. Lewis "Chesty" Puller, USMC (Ret.), before him, Ricci saw an unprecedented opportunity to promote the music he loved and gain for himself the sort of rewards that come with serving the higher needs of mankind: obscene amounts of cash and more leg than Sinatra tallied during a long weekend at the Aladdin.

Building AAJ, Ricci was intent that it should always remain about jazz. That may seem obvious, with a name like All About Jazz, but consider how many others had originally began with the same intent and ended up somewhere else entirely. Playboy had once championed jazz as the soundtrack for the modern good life, and now mentions Britney Spears 50-1 more than Miles Davis (I counted. Repeatedly). The letters in Campbell's alphabet soup used to spell out things like "bop" and "john coltrane," but a recent bowl only produced such ambiguous phrases as "go cat" and "i am minus" (it may have been trying to spell "Mingus," but I had already used all the G's to spell "Guggenheim").

Soon, AAJ had grown to include such current staples as CD reviews and, borrowing liberally from the iconic early Playboy, tasteful nudes of jazz musicians (and some disturbing paparazzi photos of King Oliver doing shots of tequila from Bessie Smith's cleavage at Mardi Gras in 1923). Visits to the site increased exponentially, as Web surfers found they could kill two birds with one stone at the emergent hotspot.

As the new millennium dawned, Ricci envisioned an AAJ that not only passively served all conceivable needs of the jazz aficionado, but took an active role in bringing jazz to the people. First, he had to determine who the people were. The "we the people" mentioned in the Constitution were all dead. The motley assortment of chuckleheads on The People's Court didn't deserve anything as wonderful as jazz, and People magazine just seemed to serve as empirical proof that Andy Warhol had overestimated by about 10 minutes.

Finally, Ricci decided that jazz was an American invention, something that only a truly heterogeneous and democratic republic could produce, and thus belonged to all people. Even those who can't seem to figure out what the signal light on their car is for (you know who you are, red Mazda with the vanity plate MCH2KUL) and those who insist on ruining a perfectly good steak by cooking all the taste out of it and then having the nerve to call it well done.

Subsequently.

AAJ began to be a magnet not only for seekers, but for sages as well. All manner of jazz-focused artists began to fill the AAJ servers with their craft (I said craft, not crafts. Don't send us busts of Ken Burns carved out of potatoes. I'm serious). From the uncanny Arcanum of Ken Dryden, who uses his superhuman abilities to discern truths about jazz recordings (he was once able to list the personnel of a set just by smelling the record jacket liner), to the fascinating insights of psychologist Dr. Judith Schlesinger (who maintains that creative personalities are no more prone to mental illness than anyone else, but thinks I'm mad as a hatter), to the surreal and self-referential humor of embryonic steeplejack Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius; AAJ has attracted not only the most eclectic and exciting collection of voices currently discussing jazz, but also the tallest (average height 5'9," compared to 5'6" for Jazz Online).


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