The Evolution of Jazz


Jazz is a music genre that has been with us for what seems to be decades, and although the major music companies would like to have you believe that it is a musical category that has gone the way of the dinosaur (mostly because they can’t make the millions that they made from rap, and Heavy metal) they decided to recreate it into a new category. This is how “Smooth Jazz” was born. However Jazz lovers, or “Jazz Purists” as I like to call them didn’t agree, and nor do I.  Jazz is more than something that you can categorize. It is a musician that has become one with his instrument of choice. In doing so, together they create an improvisational melody that branches out into a multi directional groove that only they know the route in which they are going.

It’s truly quite a unique and beautiful marriage of man and instrument. It requires years of love, commitment, and creativity.  Fortunately, we in Detroit and other cities as well, like New Orleans, Chicago, have a Jazz base that is well respected in music circles.

That being said, I’d like to share my view on the “Evolution of Jazz”.  It’s unique because Jazz hasn’t really changed,  at least TRUE JAZZ (not including the SMOOTH stuff) hasn’t changed. This sadly is part of the reason the record companies thought it would be easy to do away with it. Let’s face it, it’s not mainstream music, and many of the tunes don’t have lyrics, much of it you can’t dance to , and other than background music, and going on long drives you don’t listen to it much. The vast majority of listeners don’t know the artists, or the songs, and they don’t curse, verbally talk about sex, or call women hoes!

Jazz never became something else. To show you what I mean, Gospel became the blues, which gave us R&B, which became Rock & Roll.  I’m not sure what came first, Hip-Hop or Rap, but they are “cousins” no doubt. Even Country music has changed into a more contemporary sounding genre.  However, jazz artists stuck to their guns, staying true to the music, and the sound. Not giving in to the vast amounts of money on the table if they would just stretch their creativity to produce a more commercial sound, one that appeals to a broader audience. That my friends is LOVE.  Love and respect of those that came before you, and for the music itself. Some artists have given in to allowing dance music producers to remix their music as long as it didn’t take away from the original sound. It was successful for some, but other artists said no.
So where does this leave us? With so many artists out there and the fountain of talent astounding, either we wait on someone to create a new sound or we continue down the road to a place where the artist doesn’t gain notoriety until they’re long gone. I’m not a musician, but I ask the question, why can’t we have both?  I mean the new sound AND the classic vibe. I have been in radio for over 40 years. I have made friends in Jazz that I haven’t met face to face from places around the world. Their music is nothing short of phenomenal. I’ve taken it on myself to help the music I love so very much to “EVOLVE”. That is why I put together WJZDRADIO.COM. When I was given the distinct honor of signing WJZZ radio off the air many years ago, I left Detroit. Upon my return everyone asked me what I was going to do. I couldn’t afford a terrestrial station, and besides they are really going the way of the dinosaur. They are expensive to run, commercials cost a bundle, and people are switching to the internet. I researched and decided on internet radio.  I didn’t want to “re-do” WJZZ, so I set out to create something new. A station that would introduce jazz to new listeners, and also introduce jazz lovers to something new as well.  I added NeoSoul and Chicago Style House music to the format. The three genres blend together nicely, one not over powering the other. With the smooth grooves of jazz, the edgy vibe of Neosoul, and the “dance ability” of house, we have seemingly satisfied music lovers from three different categories.

Has Jazz “Evolved”?  Maybe not.  Have we given music lovers a new way to listen to Jazz, Neosoul, and House? Absolutely!

I hope that you will give us a listen. We have well over 200,000 listeners so far, which isn’t a lot when you consider that’s worldwide, but we’re growing…fast!  Listen, and I urge you to reach out to me on our Facebook page at WJZD RADIO JAZZ NEOSOUL HOUSE, like us and leave your comments there.  I read them as often as I can. After all, I’m the owner, DJ, Music Director, Program Director, Janitor, …you get the picture. You can also find us on the TUNEIN app on STREEMA, and USTREAM. Or go straight to this link .

Again, it has been my pleasure to give my views on what happened. Your views are your views. Until then, TURN OFF YOUR RADIO AND STREAM …

Don Allen

One thought on “The Evolution of Jazz

  1. Thanks for the invite to your station, Don. I will definitely take a listen. I too am one of the many hold out admirers of our great American art form. So many of us tend to ignore this great music, but I feel its partly due to education.

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