Sunday, January 23, 2011

5 Albums For a New Jazz Listener - My picks

The more I think about it, I realize just how difficult it is to come up with five introductory jazz albums. The scope of the music is so vast, and as been throguh so many changes in style, five albums isn't enough to represent that. Which period do you choose? Which artists should be included, or must be included. The style of music the prospective listener prefers would also influence the choices.

Under normal circumstances, most of us would find out those preferences of the listener and choose to compliment or contrast their normal listening pleasures. Without the benefit of that information, how would you approach the selections? Knowing if the listener was just curious about the music, wanted to understand more of the history of the music, or just start in with what is current, has a significant impact on the choices.

Since most modern styles never really seem to go away, my approach would be to stick with some of the classic releases, while trying to cover a reasonable time period, and a variety of lead instruments. Jazz has never been one dimensional, so this selection shouldn't be either. My selections cover the classic big band era, the cool period, the post-cool-pre-fusion to the early 70's, fusion, and post bop. Enough of the background, here goes.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

5 Albums For a New Jazz Listener

A blog post recently caught my eye. The interest evolved into an intriguing question. It was Wynton Marsalis' "top 5" must listen albums for a new jazz listener. At least, that was the way it was presented. I immediately clicked on the link, getting ready to debate the choices. Once I got there I found it was actually Wynton's picks from his own discography, to acquaint a new listener to his music. You can check it out yourself here.

My first thought was it would be very interesting to hear any of the current jazz legend's view of how a new listener should approach their music. That would have to be fascinating. The challenge would have to be picking releasing that were not necessarily the best, but those that were most reflective of their artistry. Poll a group of die-hard fans of any artist and there is likely to be strong debate over those five album titles. When the list comes from the artist, where's your grounds for debate?

The question quickly came to mind, what 5 releases would I choose for a new listener? An automatic impulse is to pick my favorite 5 albums. Even that is a major challenge, but then, if I truly want to enlighten a new listener to this music, the selection will have to be much broader than the favorites that come to mind on that particular day. Remember, this is for a new listener, not someone that wants to find out what I like in jazz.

So, I open Jazz Currents for 2011 with a question to the collective. What 5 would you pick? Feel free to post a comment/response to this posting. I'll post my choices in my next update. I want to have some fun thinking about this for a minute. First, some additional context. Assume the person asking knows nothing about jazz, and nothing about your personal taste, but they know you are a serious fan of the music. They would like to learn more about the music in general, and would like your recommendations. What would you pick, and why? I'll post the updates as they come in. Only one ground rule: no attacking someone else's suggestions.

Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 - Endings and Beginnings

For almost 15 years, I've had the pleasure and honor to cover the San Francisco Bay Area jazz community for CityFlight. CityFlight is a non-profit, community based media entity that began as CityFlight NewsMagazine based in the Silicon Valley. In that role, I've covered quite a few of the major venues and festivals in the area. My objective has always been to expose our audience to the latest happenings and trends in the world of jazz through interviews, photographs, and reviews of CDs and live performances. If this is starting to sound like a farewell, it is. At least, partially.

CityFlight has always been staffed by a small, virtual, dedicated staff of volunteers. Many current and former staff contributors, like me, owe our journalistic start to CityFlight. At its peak, the print circulation topped 40,000 copies. The publication successfully transitioned to an online "eZine" format almost two years ago, as print costs became unsustainable.  After 16 years of serving San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, and the greater Bay Area, CityFlight has ceased publication. The last post to was made in mid-December.

While other remaining staff members ponder their next journey in journalism, I will simply concentrate my reporting efforts here at Jazz Currents. Look for more frequent updates of news and reviews of artists and performances from the SF Bay Area Jazz scene. For me, it's a matter of following my passion for this art form, and making sure it stays alive and vibrant.

Say hello to 2011, and welcome to Jazz Currents. I hope you find the content interesting, and visit often. This is a dialog. I fully expect to see your comments as well.

BTW, I also wrote the Wine Sense column for CityFlight, focusing on wine education and the wine culture. You can follow that now as well at