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

AAJ Staff By

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Date: 17-Apr-1998 12:57:44
From: Chris S ( cslawec9@idt.net )
There probably isn't one, or even one dozen, particular place(s) to start. The beautiful thing about jazz is often one of the most frustrating things about it too—it is just so flexible and stylistically varied. I have a friend who really digs King Crimson; I'd be inclined to throw "Bitches Brew" at him to start. But then I have another friend who's into serious bluegrass—he'd hate "Bitches Brew" but would most likely appreciate Bill Frisell or some solo Pat Metheny. I hope I don't have any friends who like the Spice Girls, because I don't know what I'd do with them!


Date: 17-Apr-1998 13:31:21
From: Chris S ( cslawec9@idt.net )
I guess what I'm attempting to say is: It's going to depend on the "who" in question. But some things are constant regardless of the particular taste of that individual: I would be inclined to recommend stuff that's endured for decades as meaningful and important to you, rather than something that might have your ear now, but you might not want to hear five to ten years from now. I tend to be rather catholic (small "c") with this sort of stuff among my friends and family.


Date: 18-Apr-1998 18:47:03
From: Michael Ricci ( mricci@visionx.com )
I'd like to add to Chris's comments. It certainly does matter where someone is coming from musically. If you're a folky then you may want to give Marc Johnson's "Sound of Summer Running" a try. Classical: Eddie Daniels "Beautiful Love." Rock: stuff by either Pat Metheny or John Scofield. And Country: Bill Frisell. Not everyone needs to start with "Kind of Blue" but it ain't a bad way to go! One thing that I've found that turns most people off during an initial listen is frenetic bebop or avant-garde (music that's difficult to wrap the ol' noodle around). Me, I discovered jazz through hard bop and latin music, and I still listen to Jimmy Smith, Horace Silver, Cal Tjader and Stan Getz to this day.


Date: 19-Apr-1998 19:17:01
From: Steve Irons ( irons002@tc.umn.edu )
Ditto on what everyone else has said. What it comes down to is that you need find something of quality which is accessible to the target listener. And what is accessible will depend on where their tastes already lie. I myself came into Jazz via rock/blues/soul. It was late 50s Mingus, and the hard bop that got me started- it sounded like a more complex version of the sort of music Ray Charles and company, et.al., were doing. This general phenomenon is probably why people like Kenny G are popular- it sounds like the saccharine pop that a lot of people have grown up listening to, but with something different, i.e., jazz inflected melodies. (I don't know if the G meister qualifies as jazz or not- I vote no). So if you have a friend you want to Jazz, find out what they already like a turn them on to whatever the next logical step is (remember, I said QUALITY in my opening statement.) Maybe someone like Dexter Gordon—strong sense of melody and structure, but challlenging and inventive at the same time.


Date: 19-Apr-1998 22:55:09
From: Vicki D. ( vicki@uab.campus.mci.net )
It really does depend on what musical tastes the person already has to determine who to introduce them to jazz-wise. My own personal trek began with the 70's fusion. Then I fell into that Kenny G. phase (Duotones). However, it wasnt' until I got into the live scene here in my hometown that I was really exposed to the straight ahead stuff. Live performance commands your attention and you really notice melodies and vibes that you may not notice if you are listening in the car or at home while on the phone (as I used to). Now I'm into Miles, Trane and all the greats. So my suggestion is take them to a bar or jazz club with a jammin' house band. You are usually prone to get a variety of genres and most people sort out exactly what it is they like and seek out those recordings.


Date: 20-Apr-1998 07:06:01
From: Nigel Burtt ( njb@dolby.co.uk )
I came to jazz through blues/rock (Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Thin Lizzy, Steely Dan, Buddy Guy)—my entry point being Miles' "In A Silent Way" and "Kind Of Blue"—I defy anyone really into music not to find something in these records that they like and to possibly kindle their interest to look further. If you get into this then look at the players and try some of their own records—I went via 70s fusion (McLaughlin & Mahavishnu, Wayne Shorter & Weather Report, Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea & Return To Forever) from the former and on to Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins among others from the latter. Each time you buy a new record, check out new names read up on the people they cite as influences generally or for particular pieces. But in general, once you dig Miles & Trane, you're well on your way to discovering an enormous field of exciting music from Satchmo to the Avant-Garde.

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