This is the last week of broadcasting for XM satellite radio channel 72 – Beyond Jazz. When I originally decided to get satellite radio over six years ago, the primary reason was to get the jazz channels. The only jazz I could regularly get on the radio in Kansas City was a not-to-my-liking, now-gone smooth jazz station. XM’s music wasn’t even commercial free at the time. Beyond Jazz immediately became the #1 preset and has stayed there since. Russ Davis played what I wanted to hear. When I first subscribed, he had five recordings he was playing heavily – Pat Metheny Group’s Speaking of Now, John Scofield’s Uberjam, Yellowjackets’ Mint Jam, Joe Zawinul’s Faces & Places, and one other that I can’t remember. Those were all winners. In between those anchor recordings was a cornucopia of modern jazz sounds. It was the first time I heard Liquid Soul on the radio. My mouth dropped when he first played the Solsonics. This was my station.
Soon, Russ added classic fusion to the mix and I discovered the origins of a lot of modern jazz. As the years progressed, Russ added more and more songs to the playlist. I don’t know the final count it was in the thousands. Thousands of nu jazz, fusion, acid jazz, plugged-in jazz, new vocalists, jam bands…every type of contemporary jazz style you can think of. Russ had no fear of Squarepusher. He would create shows dedicated to everyone from Miles Davis to Frank Zappa to Dave Samuels to Steve Khan to … well, you name it.
Beyond Jazz was primarily responsible for my returning to the jazz web scene in 2002. I’d originally created ContemporaryJazz.com in 1996 (then called cJazz: The Contemporary Jazz Site) and sold it in 2001. When I got XM, I couldn’t keep silent about XM 72 and had to share this contemporary jazz treasure with everyone. I created tomorrowJazz and promoted the station like crazy. I even contacted XM’s legal departure and signed legal forms so I had beyondjazz.com (wish I’d kept that). I integrated those blog posts in this new ContemporaryJazz.com – read what I had to say then.
I drive a lot and have racked up over 100,000 miles over these years. Beyond Jazz has been my companion, a constant source of inspiration and discovery. I’ve already posted about Russ’ future plans and I’m encouraged that the story isn’t over. However, hearing great contemporary jazz when I first get in the car and having the artist and song display on my dash – that’s over for now. Thank you, Russ Davis. I will miss this station.