[JPL] Jazz RADIO

Lazaro Vega wblv.wblu.fm at gmail.com
Tue Mar 6 23:44:06 EST 2007


Well,

What to do? 50 records a month coming in? 40? 20? Listen to them all?
Play them all? That's the push, that's the expectation. Yet what is
being discussed here goes against that. Limit the playlist, focus it
and bring home the cows. Those are the old days. And they were good.

Heavy rotation does exist here, and it works best when tied to a live
event, but it does not always work with the audience. I've had
complaints. There was a guy who just couldn't get enough of Jimmy
McGriff's version of "Shiny Stockings" when it was new, so I played it
like a 45 on a neighborhood AM station. And eventually, after months
of this, there were calls to please stop playing that infernal song.
Far more callers just sick to death of it than going, Hey, can I hear
that AGAIN? Given commercial radio's over reliance on saturation
airplay there's a strong sense that the public radio audience comes to
us for something, ah, non-commercial.

No doubt heavy rotation works best on a regional level pushing live
concerts. What are we here for if not that? Jazz is after all a
performance art form.

Ricky wrote: "jazz radio will go from being a small part of exposing
new music to completely irrelevant."

That's only if the new music your playing is relevant. Is it? To who?
To jazz? There are the curious. Yet the music has a long tradition now
and if you choose to ignore it, or program away from the music's
history and evolution, which the audience knows more of than we give
them credit for because it is more widely available to them than at
any time in the history of recorded jazz, then that entertainment
quotient Jim mentions suffers.

Risk taking in radio in general has morphed into killing pigs on the
air and Ann Coulter (same things spiritually speaking). In music
programming it was once spinning all of Dark Side of the Moon at
midnight. What's the equivalent of that in jazz terms today? Where
does jazz radio take a risk, other than by simply playing jazz? As
comfortable and aging as the audience for jazz has become there's
still a sense that they want to wake up from time to time and be
surprised. Sure, we're playing the Tony DeSare disc, it's very nice,
but to think of him as "new" is an aesthetic misrepresentation. He's
filling some very well trod musical territory which, as people in the
audience will challenge you with, was perhaps done "better" in the
past. That does not stop me from programming him, but, you know,
Lester Young and Dexter Gordon took repertoire from Sinatra.

Fight the good fight fellow purveyors. Just remember this battle cry,
"More Ornette!" and we'll all be fine.


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