[JPL] starBUCKS & Concord

Blaise Lantana blaise.lantana at riomail.maricopa.edu
Fri Mar 23 20:29:56 EDT 2007

Jim, thanks for the Starbucks story; I really enjoyed hearing the truth of
how it all began.  
Sometimes, as a socialist recovering revolutionary I know I'm too eager to
condemn, especially corporate products and agendas.

Another good thing about Starbucks is that although the wages are not the
highest, they do pay health insurance for part time employees.  When I
interviewed some young New York players they talked about how MANY of the
young jazz cats in NY were working in Starbucks part time to get the
insurance and the coffee of course, sometimes working mornings after a late
So Starbucks is already subsidizing jazz in the big apple.

I believe that anyone who is playing music that isn't top forty in their
store, is doing a service to music and musicians and listeners.  If they
make money while they are at it, cool.

Blaise Lantana
Music Director
KJZZ Phoenix


Well, Arturo, I guess you probably wouldn't know that back in the 70s 
Starbucks was just one small storefront in the Pike Place Market, a 
farmer's market in Seattle. People were drawn to the smell of great 
coffee and discovered they liked coffee that was recently roasted, 
ground and brewed better than canned Folgers in an aluminum percolator.

After a few years, the young 20-something entrepreneurs who operated 
this small independent business had built enough demand for their then 
unique product/service they took a chance to open a second store in 
University Village, and then a  store at Northgate, and one at South 
Center, and then in Tacoma and ....  somewhere along the line, (50 
stores? 100 stores?) they became big, bad despised capitalists in some 
people's minds.   Maybe it was when they opened in Miami, New York or 

While it's not my favorite coffee today, I have to say Starbucks has 
been very supportive of jazz. One barista had such a good selection of 
recorded jazz playing in his store, people asked if they could get a 
collection of music like that - and Hear Music was born.  Timothy Jones 
was the guy, and he called me for advice and liner notes for some of 
the early compilation CDs.  They began doing an annual "Hot Java Cool 
Jazz" concert inviting six top high school jazz bands to perform in the 
biggest and most prestigious concert halls in Seattle, and sold it out 
every year... they're still doing it.   They've also had lots of 
informal concerts by young musicians in their shops, paying them, too!

Then Ray Brown recorded a trio album with Geoff Keezer & Karriem 
Riggins at a neighborhood Starbucks at 23rd & Jackson in Seattle, near 
the center of the old "after hours" jazz scene in the 40s. That CD and 
one by Dave Brubeck Quartet at Starbucks on Park Avenue South in 
Manhattan were issued on Telarc.   In short, they're probably the most 
jazz-friendly corporations I can think of.

Like any corporation, accountants and stockholders start having an 
influence and the "what's in it for us?" part of the equation gets more 
weight in decision making, but by and large it's a surprisingly 
sensitive organization for as large as it has grown.  For example, 
corporate officers served meals in at the Union Gospel Mission's 100th 
birthday party in Seattle yesterday. Starbucks is high on the list of 
corporate giving in several areas of the arts and service sectors. 
Their corporate social responsility policy is one of the best I've 
heard about.

But it all began with a couple of guys who found a way to make a better 
cup of coffee.  That's entrepreneurship, independent business and 
capitalism in the best sense.  And incidently, that little Starbucks 
store is still in the Pike Place Market in Seattle hardly changed from 
the way it looked thirty years ago.

Concord, on the other hand ....   Well, it was Carl Jefferson's baby 
which grew out of a little jazz festival the then car dealer threw in 
his town of Concord CA, and they decided to record some of the concerts 
and issue them.  "Jeff" only booked musicians he liked and he recorded 
only those he liked, just like a lot of the labels (Prestige, Fantasy, 
Riverside, etc) that later became part of the Concord family.  But 
after "Jeff"  things started to change and the personal concern and 
love for the music seemed to begin disappearing.   We can only hope 
that this huge and very important catalogue stays intact and available.

Jim Wilke

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