Twenty years ago this month, I launched this site.
Where does the time go? When I started out in 1996, I was 25 years old. Being a fan of contemporary jazz was a core part of my identity. I seemed to have all the time in the world. I loved working on the site as much as possible. My wife and the site were my top passions. Since then, a lot has happened with me and contemporary jazz. I found a deeper passion – being a father. I could not be more blessed with my two wonderful children. Contemporary jazz was overshadowed by smooth jazz. And then vocals became the thing – the worst music I remember is when instrumentalists tried to be singers. Illegal downloading cut into record company profits and genres were cut. Jazz, with a couple of rare exceptions, was solely delegated to independent labels. The smooth jazz radio format disappeared. Touring seems to have been eliminated.
At least, that’s what I’ve observed.
Today, it’s easier than ever to find the music you want to hear through an abundance of online radio and services. AccuJazz has nearly every type of jazz you can imagine. For ten dollars a month you can listen to almost any recording with Google Play Music or Apple Music. Getting the word out is the hard part. Without a centralized hub, you can’t spread the word to the masses. So artists are on their own a lot to get the word out. I think most of them want to make music and not spend time with the business and marketing aspect of it. You can communicate with your existing audience with social media but how do you build a new audience? It’s the best of times and the worst of times for some. Record labels were sometimes seen as a pain if they insisted on a certain type of record or a set number of vocals. But they had a resource or resources to get the music to people who could write about it or play it. Now there is freedom from record companies since you can pretty easily sell your music online but the outreach is gone.
This is speculation on my part. I’m a communicator, not a musician. Your thoughts are welcome.
I have plans for ContemporaryJazz.com. It’s been an important part of my life and I’ll never let it go. So stay tuned as I am determined to have 40th and 60th anniversaries too!
First logo for the site, made in late 1995 with Paint Shop Pro:
I’ve seen comments like this a dozen times. Look at this brief bio of David Benoit you can find on AllMusic and other sites:
One of the more popular performers in the idiom somewhat inaccurately called “contemporary jazz,” David Benoit has mostly performed light melodic background music, what critic Alex Henderson has dubbed “new age with a beat.”
This guy leads off the bio with a tangent about contemporary jazz, immediately forsaking the goal of a bio. It’s hard to respect jazz writers who always slam an iteration of the genre because it’s not to their liking. Pretty sad.
I still miss having XM72 – Beyond Jazz on my XM radio (though it lives on as MOJA Radio). One of the most popular shows on that channel was Jammin’ Jazz, a weekly party by Michelle Sammartino featuring groovy jazz, jazzy jambands, and any high-octane jazz Michelle could find. Here’s the message she sent out last week:
Remember me? Your friend in MOJA, Michelle Sammartino! You are getting this email because you were on my mailing list from the old XM days on Beyond Jazz (XM 72) and/or the mailing list for MOJARadio!
And I have some BIG NEWS!!!!
Jammin’ Jazz – Jazz for The New Generation, my long running show, my baby, is back on the airwaves and you can listen in FREE every Wednesday night from 10PM – 12 Midnight CST from wherever you are! If you have web access you can stream it online at WDCB.org, OR if you are in the Chicagoland area you can tune in on 90.9fm WDCB!
The show is better than ever, TWO FULL HOURS of what is new and cool and groovy in Jazz RIGHT THIS MINUTE… Jazz in the Present Tense! Don’t think you are gonna lull yourself to sleep during this show… NO WAY! You remember…. I know ya do… this show is about getting that blood moving!
I am so happy to be back!!! After a six year hiatus from regularly servin’ up the jazzy-funk for ya, I have a lot to share and a ton of artists to turn you on to… so come on and get back on the bus!
Come take a listen at WDCB.org and be sure to say hello on the website at JamminJazz.com! I also have a Facebook page for Jammin’ Jazz and I try my best to do the Twitter dance too….
Here is official press release and more info about the station! Come support Jammin’ Jazz by tuning in and join the party every Wednesday night!!! And a huge thank you to WDCB and the people who brought this show back to life!!!
See ya Wednesday night!
Welcome back, Michelle!
Nelson Rangell is a guy whose playing I’ve always loved. He’s strong on the sax and fantastic on flute and piccolo. He’s released two albums independently this year. Red features him on sax on mostly original compositions in the familiar contemporary jazz mode. Blue has him on flute and piccolo in a variety of songs and styles. Bob James guests on a few tracks. Nelson tells you about it in his first blog.
I’ve posted the third in my series of top contemporary jazz recordings of past years. This one is eight of the best-selling artists in 1990, including the Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman, Bobby McFerrin, Joe Sample, Dave Weckl and more. Click the image below to immediately listen and spread the word!