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

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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.

Date: 20-Apr-1998 09:13:47

Date: 20-Apr-1998 10:56:59
From: Deborah Yordy ( dlyordy@woodteam.com )
I rather "eased" into jazz as I grew older. For me personally, it was a natural transition from the more complex Rhythm & Blues of the 70's to contemporary jazz. Also, I grew up under the strong influence of classical music, which I believe has had a tremendous influence on the development of jazz (along with Blues, of course). And I have always loved the Big Band sound. So, one way for me would be to "ease" someone into jazz. Another way would be to ask them to come along with you to a jazz festival. The Chicago Jazz Fest, for example, has a good variety of artists. But, your pupil needs to have a ready ear: "You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink."

Date: 20-Apr-1998 11:16:35
From: George Barker ( george.barker@usa.net )
When I was a teenager (a long time ago) I was given 2 albums that got me into jazz: "Live at Montreaux"- Les McCann and Eddie Harris and "In A Silent Way"—Miles Davis. For something newer I would suggest "High Life"—Wayne Shorter.

Date: 20-Apr-1998 15:09:30
From: howard ( howard.peirce@sdrc.com )
I don't think it's so much a question of specific recordings, as telling new listeners how jazz "works." I tell people it's not so much about liking this song or that song, but that jazz is a kind of game—what happens when artist X encounters song Y. Listening to jazz is like watching baseball. Baseball is incredibly boring if you don't know what's going on, but the more you know, the more you enjoy it. It's the same way with jazz. You can learn the basic rules (head-solos-head, etc.) in about 5 minutes. Then, the more you know about the game, the more you can appreciate the subtleties. That's why "Kind of Blue" is such a great introduction: the rules are very easy to understand, but the game is so well played.

Date: 20-Apr-1998 20:50:51
From: Patrick ( pjknight@polsci.umass.edu )
This topic is great, in fact recently two friends of mine were asking me about jazz and they wanted my recommendations. It is not easy, as others have stated, you have to know what the person likes. If they like funk, then let them sample some 70s Herbie Hancock, Roy Ayers and George Duke. If they like rock, they should try Bitches Brew and fusion.

I was introduced to jazz at an early age by my godfather, he was a huge Buddy Rich fan, and soon I turned into a huge Buddy Rich fan too. Yet I know Buddy is probably not a good choice for a person who likes easy listening and adult contemporary music. So the key is to know your listener. For my friend who loves guitar, lounge and rock, I suggested Wes Montgomery, you can't go wrong with the fast fingers of Wes.

Date: 20-Apr-1998 21:10:55
From: Arun Dias-Bandaranaike ( arundb@serendib.ccom.lk )
Interesting thoughts from all previous. My view is that 'seeing' and hearing is usually far more a powerful way to attract interest, than just to provide music of a record. I have helped initiate people who have little interest in improvised music by just sitting with them at a performance and then assisting them to follow what's going on ( whispering in the ear, of course!). In the 70's I was not that much into Ellington's work ( save the usual 'hit' stuff) until I heard the band in all its glory, with maximum impact up close—Wow! Life was never the same after that!!!! I guess you can follow the drift of my argument. Love always.

Date: 21-Apr-1998 19:05:53
From: K Bray ( kcbray@televar.com )
As a high school photo teacher attempting to introduce my students in a small PNW community to the value of jazz, your comments are most beneficial. I am a new fan. We are excited to visit Western WA U next month to view the Smithsonian traveling exhibit "Seeing Jazz." I've been playing the popular Kenny G but we're looking at the masters from Louie to Duke to Dizzy. Your suggestions are most appreciated.

Date: 22-Apr-1998 20:58:20
From: Nathaniel Crockett ( jasbo@cyberdude.com )
Gender is a point of beginning. Women whether faking it or not will go with the flow. They may acquise only to congenial, but if they stick with the music, you may win them. My wife has pursued that path, not really into, however, she does approve of the perks. I have two daughters who have been exposed to the music all of their lives. They enjoy jazz too. So it can be exposure by association. My family's favorite riff is the theme from The Duke, by Bruebeck. With the jazz exposion, they have been known to astonish all by there knowledge of the music. Jazz is an attitude developed from association, appreciation, you don't really have to know it. Either you dig, or you don't.

Date: 23-Apr-1998 15:34:29
From: Chris S ( cslawec9@idt.net )
Interesting that the topic of genre has been introduced here...

Date: 23-Apr-1998 15:35:56
From: Chris S ( cslawec9@idt.net )
I meant GENDER, not "genre." Doh!


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