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

AAJ Staff By

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Some of the things I've heard Jazz musicians do are at least as stirring as what I've come to appreciate in bands like Pink Floyd and The Grateful Dead, and I've begun to more clearly see the relationship between the Rock music that I'd always enjoyed and its Jazz roots.

There's nothing like seeing live, though, too. CD players, as good as they are, can't bring the experience of a live performance to a listener quite the way actually seeing it first-hand does. And also, I've found that Jazz musicians are far more self-critical than Rock musicians, so it's unusual to come across a serious Jazz band that "sucks." There's plenty of Rock musicians out there that suck that don't know it (despite the fact that nobody comes to their shows or buys their CDs).

Thanks for reading,


Date: 26-Oct-1998 00:34:36
From: Mike Flinck ( )
If the person is a musician, find someone who plays their instrument and dazzle them. Especially drummers. A lot of drummers in "popular music" aren't that dazzling..... put in some Buddy Rich and play it for any given drummer and they'll drool over his awesome chops. Trumpet players go nuts when they hear Arturo Sandoval play those piercing high notes. Just a couple of examples. That's one way, at least, to get people started.

Date: 27-Oct-1998 18:32:08
From: Chris
For years, the only "jazz" I ever listened to was Harry Connick jr, because it was the only exposure I had in the classic rockland where I grew up. -And when I did hear something interesting, no one could tell me what it was.

-Jazz is a hard thing to pick up and run with. -It's like wine. You've got snobs that tell you what you should like, and then there are things that appeal to you immeditately. And you need to develop a "pallate" to determine what you do and don't like. I swear some people that claim to like jazz, just like feeling they're in a secret club, and don't feel the music.

I've been pretty much on my own discovering jazz in the last year or so, but had two events happen that acted as springboards: (1) I got to see Lionel Hampton on his 90th birthday tour with my fiancee's dad and I was finally in the right place to say "THERE -that's something I like! What's this style of jazz called? -Who are the other artists? etc." and her dad knew the answers. (2) I was sitting in a Starbuck's and heard Chet Baker's perfect version of "But Not for Me"

I picked up a 2 vol set from Decca called Hamp! which came with liner notes, a couple BlueNote Blend CDs and Chet Baker Sings, and I was on my way. I worked outwards from there. -Baker led to Mulligan & Art Pepper,Comparisons of Baker led to Miles & Diz, Comps of Hamp to Milt Jackson, Milt to Monk. Miles & Monk led to everyone else :) I tried to start with 40's swing/Big Band and move chronologically forward because jazz became more sophisticated somewhat chronologically, so it proved a suitable approach to pallate sophistication as well. Then I went back and got the Smithsonian collection to sample stuff I missed by this approach.

If someone had handed me "Kind of Blue" right away, I probably would have been turned off because I wasn't ready for it. I only truly appreciate Miles Davis' range and inovation after loving Chet Baker's style, consistency and lyricism.

I truly believe jazz has to move you to stay interested in it ( heck I almost drove off the road last week because I couldn't resist closing my eyes to listen to Mingus's Haitian Fight Song in my car)

-but I digress -Anyway I would give interested friends the Blue Note Blend CD's because it's a good 40-60's sampler, and because it doesn't seem as intimidating because you got it/heard it at a Starbucks. -Then ask them which tracks they liked, and lend/recommend comparable stuff. Variations on Gershwin standards is a good non-threatening way to go as well.

I just got into jazz last Feb. For many years, I heard things that interested me, but found that people who knew about jazz usually decided that

Date: 04-Nov-1998 16:03:40
From: Jason K
I played trumpet from grades 4-12 and I probably had a jump start on jazz because I was in the junior high jazz band (most of the music we did was my teacher's own numbers—a puddle of washed-up cool and bop styles). But when I actually started to listen, I got hooked up with a Miles Davis box set (The Columbia Years). As someone who was just starting to listen, I found his work from the 50s to be accessible and so wonderful and hypnotic. Even when I went to college and would play them for people who never would have given jazz a second thought, they too were captivated by him. I'll never forget the one time I came home from a party and found my jockhead-gangsta rap loving roommate sitting there on the couch looking out the window into a snowstorm listening to "Blues For Pablo." Great moment.


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