[ Issue 24 ]

Jazz is a particular interest of Emily Bronto

Bikwil celebrates Jazz


In the Web Line column for Issue 24 Tony Rogers takes a look at some sites devoted to jazz.

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Web Line — Tony Rogers


Last issue’s article by Clare Hansson (Jazz — a Womanly Thing?) has prompted me this time to explore Internet coverage of jazz. At the outset I should remind you that the topic has already been covered very fully in George Howell’s column Jazz on the Internet, a regular feature in Eric Myers’ Australian publication Jazzchord, News & Information from the National Jazz Co-ordinator (ISSN 1039 7795).

Trying my best to avoid duplicating the places mentioned in that column, I will nevertheless start with Howell’s own site, Oz-Jazz Worldwide, “a free information service dedicated to bringing Australian jazz to the Net”. Ongoing sections include Musician Profiles, Festivals (local), On-air (radio) and Bookshelf.

Overall a useful site, but maybe one not kept as current as one would like. It also has links to other sites (e.g. Sydney’s jazz venue The Basement).

Special mention is due for the Where Do You Get It section. Among other listings this includes a link to that Sydney Mecca for jazz CD explorers — Birdland — where the shop’s current catalogue is available for your perusal.

Jazzchord itself is represented, and the most recent issue is reproduced in full. Subscription details are provided.

A good way to start surfing the Net for jazz is to type the word “jazz” into the search engine Yahoo. Not only do you get about 80 sites already linked for you, you also are presented with a series of subcategories like Big Band, Bossa Nova, Dixieland, Magazines, MIDI Files, Radio Programs, Ragtime, Reviews, Theory.

From Yahoo’s links and groupings your exploration possibilities open out into a whole variety of styles and geographical locations.

That’s how I stumbled on to a strong site called American Jazz Symposium. Sadly it also is out of date* in places (e.g. its record reviews section), but overall I have found it pretty useful, especially its Internet links section, AJS Presents Jazz on the Web. For example, the Jazz Bands and Artists section, though selective, gives a good coverage of such legends as

Bix Beiderbecke
Benny Carter
John Coltrane
Eric Dolphy
Duke Ellington
Bill Evans
Herbie Hancock
Charles Mingus
Thelonious Monk
Pee Wee Russell
Cecil Taylor.

There are subsections for trumpet players, trombonists and guitarists. As well, many minor instrumentalists have entries.

The site with the best name is, of course, that run by D.C. DowDell he calls A Passion for Jazz. I wholeheartedly recommend it to all Bikwilians. With commentary, history and education as its aims, this enthusiastic site is open-minded about all styles, from Dixieland to Acid Jazz, and a feeling for its spirit can had by reading this:

Jazz is not the result of choosing a tune, but an ideal that is created in the mind, inspired by one’s passion and willed next in playing music! Jazz music is not found on websites or in books or even written down in music script; it is in the act of creating the form itself that we find Jazz.

Evolution, Etymology, Music Instruction, Basic Musicianship, Jazz MIDI Files — these are just some of its subsections.

An equally convincing site is NPR Jazz Profiles. This is based on the weekly (U.S.) National Public Radio’s series of the same name whose objective is to “document the careers of living jazz masters, through their own voices”. In other words, the radio show is a series of interviews with the musician(s) concerned, and the Web site reflects this admirably. Apart from a text outline of the career, we are given a selection of “live” audio extracts for your Internet browser to play through your computer speakers. Topics so far covered, or in the planning stage, include these — plus loads more:

Dave Brubeck
Chicago: a Jazz City
Erroll Garner
Jon Hendricks
The Violin.

While I’m at the Public Broadcasting Service, I must mention the Ken Burns Jazz phenomenon. Jazz is a ten-part TV series being screened in 2001 on PBS channels. It promises to be as provocative as Burns’ Civil War and Frank Lloyd Wright. (I hope we see it in Oz soon.) Very full details are available at the PBS site.

Another effective site based on a radio station is WNUR-FM Jazz Web *. This is maintained by volunteers at Northwestern University, Chicago, and comprises the following areas of interest:

Styles of Jazz
Performance (venues, festivals)
Media (radio, TV, press)
Jazz Art
Jazz Education and Musicianship
Jazz Labels on the Net
Other Jazz Resources on the Net.

Take the last named section, Other Jazz Resources on the Net, for instance. Among a selection of over 30 links is one to What Is Jazz? — a site well worth a visit. This too is digitised audio you can listen to through your computer. It consists of a series of four enlightening lectures on the history and nature of jazz presented by pianist and educator Billy Taylor. Another of those 30+ links I appreciated was that of the Wolverine Antique Music Society, dedicated to the preservation of 78s.

Speaking of jazz education, I recommend you pop into Outside Shore Music, a site that is particularly useful for the full text of a primer on jazz improvisation.

This work has been read and appreciated by tens of thousands of musicians around the world, and is used as course material in improvisation classes by several major universities. It covers the basics of jazz improvisation and accompaniment, as well as more advanced theoretical topics, yet it can also be used by non-musicians who wish to gain a deeper understanding of jazz.

The author, Marc Sabatella, also sells lessons by email.

Finally, if these sites fail to point you towards information on your favourite jazz musician, style or instrument, just type the name or phrase into your search engine, and you’re off and running.

* Note:
Since this article was first published in 2001,
(a) American Jazz Symposium seems to have vanished from the Internet, and
(b) WNUR-FM Jazz Web has moved to this location.

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