Contemporary Jazz: How I Got Into It, Part 3

John Hilderbrand Avatar

This is the third part of a three-part series reminiscing on how I got started with contemporary jazz 20 years ago and highlights since. Part one is here; part two here.

Eventually, I graduated from the University of Missouri but still stayed on as a volunteer announcer for KBIA for some time. I think at some point the evening contemporary jazz show was put to rest and I didn’t want to stay on for programming that didn’t interest me as much. It wasn’t long before I missed it. At the same time, I started learning this new way to make content for this thing called the World Wide Web. In 1995, I learned HTML, got a web host and created my first GIF. cJazz: The Contemporary Jazz Site was launched in January 1996. I recall it being one of the first 16 jazz sites indexed by Yahoo! (people added sites manually then; there was nothing like Google yet). I’ll never forget how I quickly received 15 email messages about the site and about half were outside the U.S. It really put the world in World Wide Web. I remember an email exchange with Rob Mounsey, getting a nice message from a doctor in Italy, and meeting Suzy Cline who was running a jazz hub called Jazz Stuff.

Most labels weren’t sure or unaware of the Web then but Randall Kennedy at Warner Bros. knew the deal. I think he had a WB Jazzspace site going earlier than other jazz labels. Michael Ricci launched AllAboutJazz.com, now the top jazz site on the Web. Larry Rosen, Dave Grusin, and Jon Diamond founded Jazz Central Station. Morrice Blackwell launched JazzReview.com, still a top jazz site to visit.

I spent five years building up ContemporaryJazz.com (I’d bought the domain name soon after the site launched). I worked on it almost every day for most of those years. Due to a major change in my life and some burnout, I sold the site in 2001. I later regretted that decision and was happy to be able to get the site back a couple of years ago. I won’t be giving it up again.

John Hilderbrand Avatar

3 responses to “Contemporary Jazz: How I Got Into It, Part 3”

  1. […] and not smooth jazz. I have so many press releases, magazines, and other materials from the time I started listening to the music. I want to revisit the time when everything was exciting to […]

  2. […] 1993-1994, I produced a newsletter to promote the late night “new music program” for KBIA-FM. Following is an article I wrote for one of the […]

  3. […] Twenty years ago this month, I launched this site. […]

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