[JPL] Black vs White

Bobby Jackson ftapache1 at sbcglobal.net
Tue Nov 7 22:47:21 EST 2006


Dr. and this esteemed panel,

We talked about this earlier and yes indeed, it is sad that racial lines are 
still being drawn today even in jazz.  I share your anger. I don't really 
see the racial lines being drawn so much by record companies except in some 
instances where a label may showcase white female vocalists ad infinitum and 
black female vocalists are practically nonexistent.  There are labels out 
here that practice that perhaps consciously or subconsciously.  I honestly 
don't know what that's all about.  It may just be perception on my part but 
I'm sure there are others on this list that have a similar sense about that.

I do however see racial lines being drawn in radio.  We struggle so much to 
keep this music alive in our markets on the air.  Is race part of that 
equation?  As Jae recently articulated to us about all of his stations 
archived jazz albums being unceremoniously bounced into the "dumbsters" 
coupled with his comments about how classical music is perceived to be 
better or more refined than the music we all have chosen to shepherd and be 
a gate keeper for.  There is a ring of some ugly truths in his words.

Perhaps the most blatant example of this was when the so-called 
contemporary/fusion jazz stations changed their formats and used the 
so-called "smooth jazz" monicker.  Musicians such as Roy Ayers, Bobbi 
Humphrey, Lonnie Liston Smith, Ronnie Laws, The Crusaders, etc. etc. woke up 
one day to find their new music not being added to those stations play lists 
and their classic hits taken away as well.  Instead they were replaced by 
white acts as well as pop staples such as Lionel Richie, Luther Vandross, 
The Temptations, Dionne Warwick, Michael McDonald and Sade to name a few. 
The originators of that contemporary jazz sound with fender rhode pianos, 
electric bass and guitars, funk elements, so on and so forth were 
systematically "researched out" for a blander kind of listening experience. 
Smooth jazz became the latest "elevator music" on the radio.   It was 
shameless then and it is still pervasive on that side of the music.  If you 
question this just check the latest JazzWeek charts. If you look at their 
playlists today you will see the glaring disparity.  It is screaming right 
off the charts for all to see.

I sat on a panel in Cleveland during one Tri-C JazzFest event where this 
very issue was discussed.  One of the participants on the panel was the 
program director of our local smooth station, Bernie Kimble.  I asked him 
what was "smooth jazz?"  He answered, "it's not music, it's a lifestyle 
choice."  Stations like his played all of these people aforementioned in the 
paragraph above before the change instituted by the consulting company 
Broadcast Architecture.  They changed everything for about 60% of smooth 
radio stations that use their consultancy and account for about 80% of the 
smooth jazz listening audiences across the nation.

Groups such as Pat Metheny, Jean-Luc Ponty, The Yellowjackets and others 
were eliminated too but to a much larger extent black bands such as Ayers, 
Dr. Donald Byrd, Billy Cobham so on and so forth took a much bigger hit than 
their white counterparts.    It's a shame that they used to word jazz to 
push music that represents a "Lifestyle Choice" without addressing the 
fundamentals of jazz music first and not allowing people like Herbie 
Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Jeff Lorber, George Howard and others 
who purveyed contemporary jazz in the first place to have a home on the 
radio here in these United States where we can still hear that music with as 
much regularity as we hear Dexter Gordon, Coleman Hawkins, Eric Dolphy, 
Clifford Brown or some of the giants who made the music happen on the public 
radio side where we deliver the acoustic side of jazz.  The irony of this is 
these musicians (the ones still living anyway) have not stopped working. 
It's what they do.  Instead, their music is still heard regularly around the 
globe, everywhere except in the country that created it.  There are a new 
assortment of bands that have taken the torch from Cobham and the 
Yellowjackets and others and these bands are still moving the music forward. 
You can hear it if you tune to stations Europe, Japan, South America, South 
Africa and other places that continue to provide a home for the originators 
of contemporary jazz and their offspring.  It's ironic and it is no wonder 
that foreign audiences have fostered a greater appreciation for and are more 
astute about music that originated out of our own United States Of America; 
our culture.  Today, they are hipper than we are because their exposure to 
the new groups has not lapsed.  Is racism at work here?  It is THE 
sixty-four dollar question.

One might argue that the music doesn't have much content to it but I 
disagree.  Much of that music was very complex and innovative as we've 
talked about on this very panel.  I am also reminded of attending a Jazz 
Times convention one particular year in New York where then KXJZ-FM 
Sacramento, CA music director Gary Vercelli presided over a Jukebox Jury 
session.  It actually was the first panel I've ever participated on in a 
national forum.  Vercelli played a snippet of a performance by a soprano 
saxophonist taking a burning solo and asked panelist and music director Gary 
Walker of WBGO-FM what did he think about it.  Walker gave it favorable 
marks and told the room how he would choose to daypart it.  After all that, 
Vercelli revealed the player to be none other than Kenny G performing on a 
"live" recording.  I will always remember the snickering and gasps of jazz 
professionals of all description in attendance moving like waves crashing 
across the room.

Aloha,


Bobby Jackson
WCPN-FM
Cleveland, OH
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "jazzrockworld" <rick at jazzrockworld.com>
To: "'Jazz Programmers Mailing List'" <jazzproglist at jazzweek.com>
Sent: Tuesday, November 07, 2006 6:47 PM
Subject: RE: [JPL] Black vs White


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> Sad - just sad.
>
> Will it ever stop?
>
> Rick Calic
> www.jazzrockworld.com
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: jazzproglist-bounces at jazzweek.com
> [mailto:jazzproglist-bounces at jazzweek.com] On Behalf Of Dr. Jazz
> Sent: Tuesday, November 07, 2006 1:28 PM
> To: jazzproglist at jazzweek.com
> Subject: [JPL] Black vs White
>
> -------------------------------------------
>
> This week's sponsor:  JazzWeek Magazine
>
> -------------------------------------------
>
> The Jazz Programmers Mailing List is a free service provided by JazzWeek.
> For more information visit us at  http://www.jazzweek.com/jpl To become a
> sponsor contact Devon Murphy at devon at jazzweek.com or 866-453-6401 x3.
>
> -------------------------------------------
> I received an email today from someone in our industry that really pissed 
> me
> off.
>
> The person asked if one of my client labels "...EVER record any non-white
> artists?"
>
> To say I was taken a back would be an understatement indeed!  I replied 
> that
> up to to the point of receiving the email in question, in the 27 years in
> this business, the question never entered my mind.  The reply I received
> was:
>
> "...Yes, and unfortunately that's the historic position white folks have
> taken...  "You" never see such disparities unless "we" point them out."
>
> Your thoughts?
>
> -Dr.
>
>
> Dr. Jazz
> Dr. Jazz Operations
> 24270 Eastwood
> Oak Park, MI  48237
> (248) 542-7888
> http://www.drjazz.com
> SKYPE:  drjazz99
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> Musicians, broadcasters, industry personnel, students and educators can
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>
> This week's sponsor:  JazzWeek Magazine
>
> -------------------------------------------
>
> If you're a subscriber to the JPL and NOT a subscriber to the weekly PDF 
> edition of JazzWeek, you're missing out! See the latest jazz, smooth jazz, 
> college jazz and world music charts powered by Mediaguide, as well as 
> interviews with artists, industry and radio.  Each issue also has reviews, 
> listings of current releases and add dates, and music and industry news.
>
> Musicians, broadcasters, industry personnel, students and educators can 
> subscribe free -- and paid subscribers can receive extra features and/or 
> Wednesday delivery.
>
> Visit http://www.jazzweek.com/ to find out more.
>
> ALSO: Coming this fall -- an expanded JazzWeek website with enhanced 
> features. Watch for it.
>
> +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
>
> Send jazzproglist mailing list submissions to
> jazzproglist at jazzweek.com
>
> To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit
> http://lists.jazzweek.com/mailman/listinfo/jazzproglist
> or, via email, send a message with subject or body 'help' to
> jazzproglist-request at jazzweek.com
>
> You can reach the person managing the list at
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> Delivered to: ftapache1 at sbcglobal.net 



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